Sheepherder recovering after bear attack
A Peruvian sheepherder is recovering following surgery to treat injuries sustained in a black bear attack.
David Vasquez, 35, was attacked while tending about 750 ewes with lambs in the Weminuche Wilderness, 23 miles northeast of Durango, Colo., near Lemon Reservoir.
Vasquez works for Sheep Rancher J. Paul Brown, who said he was able to call the ranch in the early morning hours following the attack.
Brown said Vasquez was able to move quickly up the trail to meet the medevac team from Mercy Regional Medical Center in Durango. He was transferred to Grand Junction, Colo. and treated for facial lacerations, a broken arm and puncture wounds.
This is Brown’s 53rd summer in the Weminuche. He said a bear woke him in his bedroll some 40 years ago, but an attack like this hasn’t occurred, something Brown attributes to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) management of black bears.
“We’ve never had this happen before to any of our men – nobody’s ever been attacked,” Brown said. “He went out that night and checked the sheep, and the bear was right there growling at him.”
Brown said Vasquez shot the bear, and while his dog fought to protect him, Vasquez slipped and the bear “was on top of him.”
“We’re very thankful he’s going to be all right,” he said. “He’s going to be scarred up, but he’s going to be all right. He has some puncture wounds on his thigh and groin area and a broken arm. He put his arm up to protect himself while the bear was trying to bite his head.”
CPW officials gathered DNA samples from Vasquez, and officers on scene found two sheep carcasses with wounds consistent with a bear attack. An agent with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service was called out, and using a team of dogs, he was able to locate a bear in the vicinity and shoot and kill it.
The bear is estimated to be an eight-year-old male weighing 250 pounds. Officers found sheep wool in the bear’s stomach and are confident it was the animal responsible for the attack but will not be certain until DNA testing is completed.