WATCH: Colorado homeowner shoots bear during confrontation in garage
After the homeowner discovered the bear in his garage, he attempted to scare it away. The homeowner “felt cornered between the bear and his house” and fired his .45 Long Colt at the animal, striking it in the leg, Huntington said.
The homeowner contacted officials from Colorado Parks and Wildlife who responded to the scene and began tracking the injured bear.
After several hours of search, state authorities located the bear near the Fraser River behind the East Grand Fire District’s Fraser firehouse. State officials euthanized the bear at around 2 p.m. that day.
The meat from the bear was salvaged and donated to a family from Kremmling. Its hide will be auctioned off by the state.
State authorities determined the homeowner was acting to protect his property and in self-defense and therefore he received no citation or ticket.
The bear was euthanized primarily because it was already injured, however, Huntington explained that Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s official policy for human-bear conflicts requires euthanization for all bears that break into occupied dwellings. The garage the bear broke into, he said, had a pedestrian access door with a lever handle, which makes it easier for bears to attempt to access. It also had a coded lock system, but it was not engaged when the bear broke into the premises, he added.
Huntington said the bear was attempting to access a garbage can that was stored inside the garage at the time. While Colorado Parks and Wildlife does recommend homeowners store garbage can in garages rather than outdoors during overnight hours, Huntington said additional precautions are often warranted.
“Even in a garage, bears can get through the doors, or siding,” he said. “If it is made out of wood, it won’t keep bears out.”
Be bear aware: A spring check-list
- Store trash in bear-resistant containers or enclosures or put trash out only on the morning of pickup, not the night before
- Feed birds only when bears are hibernating, OR
- Bring bird feeders in every night while bears are active, OR
- Hang bird feeders 10 feet off the ground and 10 feet from anything bears can climb
- Store pet food, bird seed and livestock feed inside in a secure area
- Lock bear-accessible doors and windows on your house, garage, car and outbuildings at night and when you leave home
- Keep your garage door closed, even when you are home
- Keep food, beverages, scented toiletries, candles and other attractants out of the sight, smell and reach of bears
- Keep no food, trash, air fresheners, coolers or scented products in your car
- Bear-proof your compost area, or choose not to compost food scraps
- Clean your barbecue grill after each use or store it inside
- Pick any fruit before it ripens and pick up fallen fruit promptly
- Keep your unattended pets and livestock in a secure enclosure
- Share information about bear-proofing with your neighbors and friends
Garages made from heavy construction materials can prevent bears from breaking in, but the lighter shed-like garage structures can be broken into. According to Huntington, a bear in the Winter Park area broke through the siding of a detached garage in the Fraser Valley earlier this year while attempting to access garbage.
“Bear’s don’t just come from the wild and enter someone’s house,” he said. “They become habituated over time through easy access to food sources, mostly trash and bird feeders.”
Events like these, while unfortunate, are not uncommon.
Last year, Colorado Parks and Wildlife had to euthanize four bears in Grand County and sedated and relocated one additional bear.
“It is up to the community to protect bears, they can do that by being bear aware,” Huntington said, noting his frustration with ongoing bear conflicts that are largely related to homeowners leaving garbage cans or bird feeders out at night. “The biggest thing I see up here is there are a lot of places with plastic lids on dumpsters. We need to find a way to keep bears out of the trash.”
A bear relocated from Steamboat Springs was killed by CPW officers April 8 after it disturbed a farmer’s beehive near Meeker. It was the first bear the agency had destroyed in the state this year.
Kris Middledorf, the Steamboat area’s wildlife manager, assisted in the bear’s relocation and was disheartened to learn of its death, according to the Steamboat Pilot & Today.
“It’s the worst day for wildlife officers who go into this business to conserve wildlife, and then, they have to go put an animal down,” Middledorf said.
Middledorf posted an update on the incident on Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Facebook page Thursday morning, urging local residents to be vigilant about securing their trash and other wildlife attractants, as well.
Editor’s note: The video below will be hard for some people to watch. We decided to show this video, which was taken from a neighbor’s security camera in relation to the April 11 bear in Fraser, to show what can happen if you don’t take care to prevent bears from accessing items at your home, such as open garbage containers or bird feeders. You, and only you, can help prevent this from happening on your property.