Bear wrecks car in East Vail |

Bear wrecks car in East Vail

Sarah Mausolf
Vail, CO Colorado
Kristin Anderson/Vail DailyWest Vail Shell employee Chris Cooke prepares to tow a Subaru that was destroyed by a bear Sunday night on Booth Falls Road in Vail, Colorado

EAST VAIL, Colorado – A bear chomped on the steering wheel of Jeff Leistad’s car in East Vail, Colorado Sunday night.

It defecated on his passenger seat.

And it deployed the air bags.

“It was literally like out of the movies,” Leistad said. “My whole interior is totaled.”

Shortly after dusk on Sunday, Leistad had just returned to his East Vail home from a camping trip when his yellow lab started barking.

When Leistad stepped outside to see what was going on, he saw a bear had broken into his brand new Subaru Forester.

“My car was shaking back and forth,” the 31-year-old said. “The windows were all steamed up and the bear was growling pretty badly.”

Leistad said the bear had opened the rear passenger’s side door and let itself into the unlocked car. The car had been parked in lot of his townhome complex on Booth Falls Road.

“The bear was inside my car, freaking out and going crazy because he couldn’t get out for a good 15 minutes,” Leistad said.

After a neighbor called 911, police responded to the scene. Leistad said they stood 30 yards from the car and opened the door with caution tape.

Sgt. Bill Clausen said police shot the black bear with a pepper ball gun. The bear then wandered away, he said. Clausen said police have been urging people to lock their cars because the bear has learned how to open car doors.

Steve Prawdzik, who also lives in the Booth Falls Mountain Homes, said the bear broke into his car around 5:30 a.m. Thursday.

“I heard the noise out in the parking lot,” he said. “It sounded like someone was slamming their door repeatedly. I woke up and looked out the window and saw the bear in my car and the light in my car was on.”

When Prawdzik yelled at the bear, it jumped out of the car and took off into the woods, he said. The bear gnawed on his rear windshield wiper but didn’t damage the car, he said.

Police didn’t have figures readily available on how many cars the bear has entered. Leistad said he’s heard of 12 other cars in the neighborhood the bear broke into or tried to break into.

Officials with the Colorado Division of Wildlife tried to trap the bear over the weekend but were unsuccessful, said Randy Hampton, a spokesman for the organization.

“If it keeps breaking into cars and stuff we may need to look at trying to relocate a trap back in that direction,” he said.

Colorado has a two strikes policy for bears, Hampton said. If a bear breaks into garbage or cars, officials can relocate it, he said. If the bear causes trouble again, officials can put it down, he said.

As for Leistad’s car, he’s reported the damage to his insurance company. He had the car towed to the dealership Monday, and isn’t exactly sure what will happen next to the car he just bought in January.

“I don’t think I have any expectations really,” he said. “I just want my car back.”