A DNA test has confirmed that the bear killed by wildlife officers is the one that attacked a 5-year-old girl outside her home near Grand Junction over the weekend, Colorado Parks and Wildlife said Wednesday.
The attack happened early Sunday, on Mother's Day, when the girl went outside about 2:30 a.m. because she heard noises she thought was from her dog, the girl's mother told wildlife officers. The mother heard screaming and found her daughter being dragged by a large black bear.
The mother told authorities the bear dropped the girl after she yelled at it. The girl was hospitalized but wasn't seriously injured.
The black bear was shot and killed by wildlife officers that evening after it was found in a yard about a half-mile from the home where the attack took place in East Orchard Mesa, a semi-rural, unincorporated area near Grand Junction. Wildlife officers said the animal came within a few feet of their vehicle, peering into an open window as they monitored a nearby bear trap, officials said.
The bear was 2 years old and weighed 150 pounds.
The bear's carcass was sent to the agency's Wildlife Health Lab in Fort Collins, where a necropsy was conducted. The Wyoming Game and Fish Laboratory looked at DNA evidence and confirmed that wildlife officials had killed the bear that attacked the girl, the agency said.
Typically, wildlife officials said, it'd take a week to get results but "the high-profile and sensitive nature of the incident prompted an expedited effort."
"From the moment we first learned of the attack through confirmation that we killed the right bear, there have been a lot of dedicated people working very hard to protect the public and conduct a thorough, timely investigation," JT Romatzke, the agency's regional manager, said in a statement. "We continue to pray for the little girl and her family and they remain in our thoughts. We are glad to hear she is doing better. It gives us a great sense of accomplishment to let them know we have dealt with the bear that attacked their daughter."
Three bear traps that had been set in the area after the attack have been removed, wildlife officials said.