We encountered a bear or two during our recent trip to south-central Colorado. One ran across a path near my nephew. An incident north of Denver was more harmful.

The Star Tribune of Minneapolis reports that a black bear suspected of attacking a camper was caught and killed this week. My family has had some close calls with bears. Each time we've able to laugh about it afterward, mostly.

A bear attacked a cooler left outside our cabin one year. It was empty but apparently the bear had learned that coolers usually contain food. It made quite a racket at 2AM when the bear was biting and kicking the cooler around the porch. We don't need to put our name on that cooler anymore. It's the one with the teeth marks in it.

A bear broke into my mother-in-law's cabin some years ago. It dug around the cabinets for food and knocked over a can of paint and tracked it throughout the house. No one was home at the time. Another year a bear broke into my brother-in-law's van when it smelled the food inside. I imagine that was an interesting conversation with the insurance agent.

Some people in my extended family used to bait bears by putting out greasy pans. It did its job, but was frowned upon. A bear ambled by a group of us one day while we were cleaning up brush and pine needles, startling us all, but it was just passing through.

Most of the animal encounters this year were pretty harmless. A fox strolled through the yard one day. It might have stricken fear in my little dog's heart had she been out. We enjoyed watching the hummingbirds jockey for position at the feeders. A black squirrel made a number of appearances. A fawn dashed up a path toward our group before putting on the brakes to seek out its mother. A couple of large rainbow trout met their demise at the end of a fishing line.

The safest way to observe wildlife might have been Sunday night when National Geographic television presented Earth Live, a two-hour special that switched to random live scenes from across the world. Viewers were treated to sharks feasting on fish, a lion stalking a pack of wildebeests, ants building a winter shelter and a human sitting in the dark feeding wild hyenas.

Jazzy, below, is our pet. She is a Chihuahua and Pomeranian mix and is a great mountain dog. She enjoys herding her humans on our hikes.

Roy Koenig/Townsquare Media