Bear injures man in Park County
A 51-year-old Bailey man suffered bite wounds from a bear inside his home early Thursday morning.
The man discovered the bear in his basement and approached it in hopes of getting the animal to leave. The 320-pound, male bear was later shot and killed.
According to wildlife officers, the family heard sounds in their kitchen shortly after midnight on Thursday morning and quickly determined that a bear had entered the home. The man attempted to monitor the bear’s whereabouts and was bitten as the bear tried to get past him.
A Division of Wildlife officer, responding alongside deputies from the Park County Sheriff’s Office, located the bear outside the home and killed it.
“The instructions we give our wildlife officers are 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 Thursday morning.
Most conflicts between people and bears involve some sort of food source. In this case, wildlife officers said there was an open door to a garage containing accessible trash and a refrigerator. In addition, officers reported that the door from the garage into the home appeared not to be latching correctly. Bears can smell food from miles away, be it birdseed, pet food, a greasy grill grate or accessible refuse. Bears that become habituated to people will seek out such food sources.
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. In most cases, bears avoid confrontations with people.
Aggressive bear attacks are rare, but encounters like the one in Bailey 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.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife recommends the following measures to avoid harmful wildlife interactions:
• If a wild animal enters your home, leave and call for help. Animals that feel cornered or threatened are a danger to humans and 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. To reduce residual odor, periodically clean garbage cans with hot water and chlorine bleach, or by burning trash residue in metal 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 outside or feed them outside. Clean your 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.
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