BAILEY, Colo. – A 51 year-old Bailey man who discovered a bear in his home early Thursday morning suffered bite wounds when he approached the animal in his basement in an effort to make it leave. The 320-pound male bear was later shot and killed.
According to wildlife officers, the family heard sounds in their kitchen soon after midnight on Thursday morning and quickly determined that a bear had entered the home. The homeowner attempted to monitor the bear’s whereabouts and was bit as the bear tried to get past him.
Responding alongside deputies from the Park County Sheriff’s Office, a Division of Wildlife Officer located the bear outside the home and killed it.
“The instructions we give our Wildlife Officers is clear – public safety is our first priority,” said Reid DeWalt, Area Wildlife Manager. “Bears that enter homes are a threat to public safety. When we’re dealing with aggressive or habituated wildlife, people come first.”
The victim was taken to Swedish Medical Center in Littleton and released early this morning.
Most conflicts between people and bears involve some sort of food source. In this case, wildlife officers said the door to a garage containing accessible trash and a refrigerator was open. In addition, officers reported that the door from the garage into the home appeared to be not latching correctly. The DOW reminds Colorado residents that bears can smell food from miles away, be it birdfeed, pet food, a greasy barbeque grill grate or accessible refuse and that bears which become habitatuated to people will seek such food sources out.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife recommends the following:
If a wild animal enters your home, leave and call for help. Animals who feel cornered or threatened are a threat to humans or pets.
Make your property safe by keeping garbage out of reach and smell of bears. Use bear-proof trash containers. Be sure garbage cans are emptied regularly. Periodically clean garbage cans to reduce residual odor—using hot water and chlorine bleach, or by burning trash residue in cans. Store trash in a bear proof enclosure. Contact the Division of Wildlife for designs.
Lock all ground-level windows and doors. Bears are smart—when they learn that homes contain food, they may try to enter.
If you have pets, do not store their food or feed them outside. Clean your BBQ grill of grease and store inside. Hang bird seed, suet and hummingbird feeders on a wire between trees instead of on your deck or porch. Bring all bird feeders in at night. Do not put fruit, melon rinds and other tasty items in mulch or compost piles.
Most bears sighted in residential areas within bear habitat do not cause any damage. If a bear doesn’t find abundant food, it will move on.
Aggressive bear attacks are rare, but encounters such as this one have increased as Colorado’s population grows. The bear population has not increased, but the number of people living, working and recreating in bear country has.
There are no definite rules about what to do if you meet a bear. In most cases, bears avoid confrontations with people.
Here are some suggestions if you see a bear:
–Stay calm. If you see a bear and it has not seen you, calmly leave the area. As you move away, make noise to let the bear discover your presence.
–Stop. Back away slowly while facing the bear. Avoid direct eye contact, as bears may perceive this as a threat.
–Give the bear plenty of room to escape. Bears rarely attack people unless they feel threatened or provoked.
–Do not run. If on a trail, step off the trail on the downhill side and slowly move away. Do not run or make any sudden movements. Running is likely to prompt the bear to give chase, and you cannot outrun a bear.
–Speak softly. This may reassure the bear that you mean it no harm. Try not to show fear.
–If a black bear attacks you, use tools such as rocks, sticks, binoculars and even their bare hands to defend yourself. Aim for the nose or eyes if possible.
For more information on bear proofing your home and other ways to deter bears in your neighborhood, visit http://www.wildlife.state.co.us/bears.