By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) - A marauding black bear tore through a mountain campsite at a bowhunters gathering in west-central Colorado on Friday and mauled a teenage boy, wildlife officials said.
The bear entered the boy's campsite in Lake County before dawn and broke into a food cooler, feasting on eggs before it entered the boy's tent, Randy Hampton, spokesman for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, said.
The bear grabbed the boy by the leg before other campers who heard his screams scared the animal off. The boy, who was not identified, sustained minor lacerations to his leg and was treated at a local hospital and released, Hampton said.
He said wildlife officers were tracking the bear with dogs and would destroy the animal if it is found.
"We like to have a thriving black bear population, but when they become aggressive toward people they must be put down," he said.
Colorado is home to about 12,000 black bears, and attacks on people are rare, but typically happen when hungry bears lose their fear of humans, according to the division of wildlife.
Rose Ashurst, spokeswoman for the Colorado Bowhunters Association, said between 700 and 1,100 campers were attending the annual jamboree. The attack happened at one of the outlying campsites, she said.
Earlier this month, witnesses reported seeing a black bear sow and her two cubs rummaging in an outdoor trash receptacle at a Burger King restaurant in Eagle, Colorado.
The spectacle attracted a crowd, and at least two people were seen feeding the bruins hamburgers.
Ron Velarde, a regional manager for the division of wildlife, called the incident "an extraordinary example of stupid and irresponsible behavior" by the feeders.
"Because of their reckless action, the sow and her cubs now know that people mean food," and are at greater risk of having to be killed, Velarde said.
(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Cynthia Johnston)