A Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer on Thursday euthanized a bear that shattered a window at a Red Mountain home, and officials are urging residents to lock windows and doors and take other steps that can help save a bruin’s life.
CPW officer Kevin Wright said there’s no reason a bear should be breaking into a house so soon after emerging from hibernation.
“It shouldn’t be happening,” he said.
The Red Mountain homeowner hadn’t done anything wrong, like leaving pet food outside or a window open, Wright said.
The bear, a large, older male, simply “blew right through the window” in the Tuesday incident, he said. “That elevated its behavior beyond what’s acceptable. They don’t get a second chance with that.”
A trap he set near the residence caught the bear. Wright said he also set a trap for another bear at a home near Cemetery Lane, but that animal has eluded capture.
Aspenite Tanai Starrs, who is staying in the Red Butte-area house, said Thursday that a bear, possibly the same one, broke in twice in as many nights last week.
On April 26, a bruin was able to get into the home’s kitchen through an unlocked sliding-glass door. She said she heard the glass door open but thought it was snow sliding off the roof. The bear then helped itself to chocolate, ice cream and energy bars — “all the comfort food,” Starrs said.
The next night “was the scary one,” she said. “I heard the force of that bear opening what I thought was a very [secure] door” to the home’s study.
She awoke after a motion sensor turned a light on. Starrs said she also heard bells that are on a door to the study, which is right next to her bedroom.
“I thought, ‘Oh dang, a bear,’” she said. “I had checked all of the doors several times.”
Starrs kept quiet, believing that trying to get the bear out would cause it to wreck the place. She didn’t have a cell phone or landline with her in the bedroom, and the bear wasn’t going anywhere.
“He seemed to be very frustrated,” Starrs said. “He was making growling noises, he turned the lights on. ... He stayed for a very long time.”
Some 90 minutes later, she was able to call the police. The bruin, if it was the same one, did little damage during both incursions, though police told Starrs it carried her purse outside the second time.
Authorities told Starrs that a dead-bolt on the study door wasn’t quite locked.
She said she now ensures every door is locked tight. Authorities also advised her to put down boards with nails sticking up in front of the sliding glass door. A bear last year was able to completely remove that door from its sliding track, Starrs said.
Starrs said she now sleeps with a phone in her room and an air horn.
While Wright said Starrs, like the Red Mountain homeowner, also wasn’t in the wrong — he saw a flock of ravens emerge from the dumpster of a construction site near Cemetery Lane.
That can only mean that human food was inside, Wright said.
“I’m just very frustrated that people still don’t get it, and after the city’s had their ordinance since, what, 1999?” he said, referring to Aspen’s law that mandates the proper storage of any wildlife attractants, including trash. “C’mon, folks.”
He said the construction supervisors have a wildlife-proof trash bin on site but that workers “just weren’t using it.”
It should be a priority for supervisors, whether they’re the contractor or subcontractor, to inform their crews about the importance of securing their garbage, Wright said.
“It’s not a fun thing” to euthanize a bear, he said.
Tips on reducing bear encounters
Follow these tips to keep bears out of trouble and to reduce conflicts:
• Obtain a bear-resistant trash can or dumpster. Check with local authorities or your trash service to determine what types can be used where you live. Keep garbage in a well-secured location; and only put out garbage on the morning of pickup.
• Clean garbage cans regularly to eliminate food odors. If you don’t have secure storage, put food scraps and items that might become smelly into the freezer. Then put them in the trash on pick-up day.
• Don’t leave pet food or bowls outside.
• Attract birds naturally to your yard or garden with flowers and water features. For those who use bird feeders, suspend them high above the ground so that they’re inaccessible to bears; clean up beneath them every day and bring them in at night.
• Tightly secure any compost piles. Bears are attracted to the scent of rotting food.
• Clean up thoroughly after picnics in the yard or on the deck. Don’t allow food odors to linger.
• If you have fruit trees, pick fruit before it gets too ripe. Don’t allow fruit to fall and rot on the ground.
• If you keep chickens or other small livestock, build a secure enclosure and bring the animals inside at night. Clean up pens regularly to reduce odors.
• Keep the bottom-floor windows of your house and garage doors closed when you’re not at home. Lock car doors.
• Never intentionally feed bears or other wildlife. It’s illegal and dangerous.
• When backcountry camping, hang food high in trees; at campgrounds, lock food and trash in vehicles.
• For more information, go to http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/LivingWithWildlife/Pages/Liv...