Colorado rangers kill bear suspected of mauling child

DENVER, May 14 (Reuters) - Wildlife rangers in Colorado on Monday shot and killed a black bear suspected of attacking and trying to drag off a five-year-old girl from her yard.

The attack occurred early Sunday morning when the girl went outside to check on a noise she thought her dog had made and her mother heard screaming, officials said.

"When she went outside to investigate, she witnessed a large black bear dragging her ... daughter," the Colorado Parks and Wildlife agency said in a statement.

The bear dropped the child after her mother yelled at it, officials said. The attack took place in East Orchard Mesa, a small community about 250 miles west of Denver.

The child, whose name was not released, was in fair condition early on Monday at a local hospital, NBC affiliate KKCO said.

Wildlife agents set up traps and deployed tracking hounds in an effort to locate the bear, said Mike Porras, a spokesman for the state parks agency's northwest region office.

He said agents were monitoring the traps overnight when they observed a bear approaching a home about a half-mile from where the attack on the girl occurred. They shot it before it entered a trap.

"Based on the description of the bear and that it returned to the same general area, we believe it is the same animal," Porras said by telephone.

Colorado has a "robust" population of about 18,000 black bears, he said, noting that unprovoked attacks by black bears on humans are rare.

The bear's carcass will be shipped to the agency’s laboratory for a necropsy to determine if DNA testing can confirm it was the animal that attacked the girl and to assess its overall health, Porras said.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver, additional reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Scott Malone and Dan Grebler)