A 5-year-old Colorado girl attacked by a bear outside her home over the weekend is expected to make a full recovery, officials said Monday. Her mother is credited for possibly saving her life by scaring the animal away.
The unidentified girl was in good condition at St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction as wildlife officials announced they killed the bear believed to be responsible.
The attack happened early Sunday in East Orchard Mesa, an unincorporated area near Grand Junction, about 240 miles (386 kilometers) west of Denver.
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The girl's mother told state wildlife officers that her daughter went outside around 2:30 a.m. to investigate noises she thought might be related to her dog. The mother said she heard screaming and went out to find her daughter being dragged by a large black bear. She told authorities the bear dropped the girl after she began screaming at the animal.
Mike Porras, a spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said the mother's actions probably save the girl's life.
Pediatric surgeon Charles Breaux Jr. told reporters Sunday that the bear apparently bit the girl on her back side but she didn't have any injuries to her brain or organs or suffer any fractures. He said she received 77 external stitches and more internally.
Doctors expect the girl to "mend very well," hospital spokeswoman Teri Cavanagh said Monday.
The bear killed by wildlife officers was seen walking up to a home about a half-mile (0.8 kilometers) away from where the girl was attacked. Three traps were set to catch the bear but officers killed it before the animal could enter one, Porras said in a press release.
Wildlife officers are confident the bear is the one that attacked the girl based on its appearance and behavior but authorities won't know for sure until its body, including DNA, is analyzed in a laboratory.
The traps will remain in place in the meantime and state and federal wildlife officers will continue searching the area for additional bears.
Doctors will continue to monitor the girl to make sure she does not develop any infections or rabies.