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Glenwood bear catches, eats housecat

Jeremy Heiman

A black bear, attracted to a West Glenwood neighborhood by garbage, killed and ate a pet cat last week while a neighbor and a sheriff’s deputy watched.

Sally Melia, who lives on Ponderosa Circle, said the incident happened about 11 p.m. Wednesday. The neighborhood is just north of the Glenwood Springs Mall.

The bear “got into my neighbor’s trash, and it was in our front yard, munching on it,” Melia said.



Melia said her daughter, Lindsey Constance, first noticed the bear when Constance went outside to move her car.

“He was about 20 feet away from me when I first saw him,” Constance said, “but he really didn’t care that I was there. He just kept on eating the garbage.”



When she started her car and turned on the lights, the bear climbed a tree. After a short time, it came down and continued eating garbage.

This was a good-sized adult bear, Melia said.

“When it stood up on its hind legs, I would say it was probably six feet, maybe even taller than that,” she said.



Garfield County Sheriff’s Deputy Leah Campbell responded to Melia’s telephone call and alerted neighbors to the bear’s presence, warning them to keep their doors and windows closed, Melia said. The two continued to watch the bear for about an hour.

Then a passing car startled the bear, and it crossed the street diagonally into another neighbor’s yard. Melia, feeling safer, went outside to talk with Campbell.

“I had just walked outside when she said, ‘Oh! It just killed a cat.'” Melia said. “Then she said, ‘He just took a big bite out of it.'”

Neither Melia nor Constance knew whose cat was eaten, they said. Campbell was unavailable for comment.

Pat Tucker, the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s district wildlife manager for Glenwood Springs, said bears aren’t an uncommon sight in West Glenwood.

“They’re right on the outskirts, most of the time,” Tucker said. “Right now, the berries they eat aren’t ripe yet. They’re opportunistic feeders, so he probably caught wind of that trash.”

Opportunistic feeders eat pretty much whatever is available, even if it’s not their favorite meal.

“Garbage is probably the No. 1 reason we have problems with bears,” Tucker said. Pet food, hummingbird feeders, birdseed, barbecue grills and compost piles also attract bears. But garbage is at the top of the list.

“Once a bear has found an easy meal in someone’s trash, they’ll remember it and come back again and again,” Tucker warned. “Then it becomes a neighborhood issue.”

Once a bear begins to frequent a neighborhood, everyone must be vigilant, about not only their trash, but keeping their doors and first-floor windows closed and their pets inside. But bears, unlike mountain lions and coyotes, aren’t commonly known for dining on housecats, Tucker said.

“That’s something we don’t see frequently,” he said. “Again, that’s the bear being an opportunistic feeder.”


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