Black Bear That Severely Injured Colorado Sheep Herder Tracked And Killed

A back bear attacked and severely injured a sheep herder near Durango, Colorado, early Tuesday, biting his head and clawing other parts of his body. Wildlife officials later tracked the bear and killed it.

Mark Heinz

July 13, 20232 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

A Colorado sheep herder was severely injured by a black bear when he tried protecting his flock early Tuesday, and wildlife agents later tracked the bear down and killed it.

The sheep herder, a 35-year-old man, was attacked near a camp in the Weminuche Wilderness above Lemon Reservoir, roughly 23 miles northeast of Durango, Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Joey Livingston told Cowboy State Daily.

The agency didn’t release the name of the sheep herder, who was hospitalized after suffering bite wounds to his head, additional wounds to his left hand and arm and lacerations to his left hip and back.

“CPW does not believe there is a pattern of increased aggression among black bears. Wildlife attacks on people continue to be a rare occurrence in Colorado,” Livingston said.

It was the first reported bear attack in Colorado this year, according to CPW.

Was Trying To Defend Sheep

The victim told wildlife agents that he was jolted awake at about 1 a.m. Tuesday by a bear attacking the sheep, according to CPW. He fired a.30-30 rifle at the bear before it attacked him.

After the attack, he crawled to a tent and told his cousin what had happened, and first responders were called. After emergency treatment, he was flown to Grand Junction, Colorado, for surgery.

Wildlife agents found two dead sheep at the scene, which had apparently been killed by the bear. Agents from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service were brought in, with a team of dogs, to track down the bear.

Killed And Tested For Disease

They found the bear near the Florida River at about 11 p.m., and shot and killed it. DNA samples were taken from the carcass of the 250-pound male -- estimated to be 8 years old – to confirm that it was the bear that attacked the sheep and sheep herder.

Samples were also taken to test for rabies and other diseases that might have been transmitted to the sheep herder, according the CPW.

The results of those tests were still pending as of Thursday afternoon.

Mark Heinz can be reached at

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter