A man in the ski town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado shot and killed a black bear that entered his home in the middle of the night. According to the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife (CPW), homeowner Ken Mauldin dispatched the bruin with a .40-caliber Glock pistol after it opened and went through an exterior door.
“The door was open and it’s one of the old style lever door handles. So the bear pushed him to open the door,” says CPW public information officer Rachel Gonzalez. F&S. “[Mauldin] he was alerted when his wife screamed. It was only 2 am when we got the notification about the incident.”
According to an incident report filed by CPW, Mauldin discharged his pistol nine times to take down the bear. “It was a pretty big bear,” Gonzalez said. “It was a pig and it was somewhere between 300 and 400 pounds.”
Fortunately, no one at the Mauldin residence was injured during the incident. As for the bear, Gonzalez says CPW doesn’t know for sure if it had a previous history of human conflict or food habit. “The bear had no ear tags, so we have no record of its previous activity,” Gonzalez said.
Steamboat Springs is a hot spot for human-bear conflicts
Ken Mauldin said the incident that happened inside his home on Aug. 13 is indicative of a larger bear issue in his community. “We’re seeing bears that have lost all their natural fear of humans,” Mauldin told F&S. “They are walking around the restaurants. They are walking through hotel lobbies. They are entering occupied structures with large barking dogs. Here we have city bears that are not afraid of people.”
He says the bear that entered his home was not deterred by his screams or his dog. “I had a 100-pound German shepherd in the same room trying to chase him out of the house,” he said. “My wife was screaming and standing there. I wasn’t making any effort to get out of my house.”
Located in the Yampa Valley of northern Colorado, Steamboat Springs is a remote mountain community surrounded by prime black bear habitat. In August, bears are already increasing their feeding habits to prepare for the winter molt, which often leads to an increase in conflicts and encounters between humans and bears.
“The steamship is a place for bears. There is always bear activity. This time of year, you’re definitely going to see more bear activity because they’re starting to put on pounds, eating over 20 hours a day to try to get 20,000 calories,” Gonzalez says. “When we make them more easy access to food by leaving garbage outside or, in this case, an open door, they will look for it.”
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Mauldin says he hopes the incident will spur change to reverse the growing number of bear-human conflicts in Steamboat Springs. “What happened at my house is a significant escalation of conflicts between people and bears in this community,” he said. “If we don’t start implementing a comprehensive bear awareness strategy that includes bear scares, it’s only a matter of time before there’s an even worse conflict.”