Burglar? No, bruin
Pitkin County Correspondent
Vail CO, Colorado
BASALT, Colorado ” Mike Miller was prepared to confront a burglar in his Willits home Friday night.
Miller, who was home alone at the time, stepped out to get the mail at about 9:30. He exited his open garage and was re-entering the same way when he heard a noise he interpreted to be a burglar rummaging through drawers and cupboards. He figured someone walking along Willits Lane slipped in during the brief time he was out.
So he entered his house, rounded the corner and came face to face with a big black bear.
“I just ran. I wasn’t ready to fight a bear,” Miller said.
The bear had opened the sliding freezer door and was helping himself to shrimp and fruit. The bruin was as startled as Miller when they discovered one another, and Miller said the bear might have left the kitchen for the garage. Miller hightailed it the other direction, out into the back yard. He looked in a window and saw the bear back in the house. It discovered Chips Ahoy cookies and fruit in his roommate’s bedroom closet. He gobbled the cookies before returning to the kitchen on a quest for more food. The bruin found a bag of chips and assorted other goodies.
The bear ate like a pig, said Miller, and left a mess.
While out in the yard, Miller called authorities, and a Basalt officer responded. The bear wandered off without further incident around the same time the officer arrived.
Miller said the bear had two red tags in each ear and a white collar. That fits the description of a large male seen numerous times in the Willits/Sopris Village area over the past two weeks. The bear has been tagged by the Colorado Division of Wildlife for being a nuisance. Under the wildlife division’s policy, a bear with two strikes for entering homes or acting aggressively in encounters with humans is killed if captured.
District wildlife officer Kelly Wood said she had previously set a trap for the bear but didn’t have any luck catching it. She said midvalley residents should take the same precautions as upper valley residents by not providing any type of opportunity for bears to score food. That means putting garbage out on the day of pickup or using bear-proof containers, cleaning grills, not leaving pet food outside and taking precautions with doors and windows.
Miller advised closing garage doors at night ” and avoiding confrontations.
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