DENVER (AP) — A Colorado man had a rude awaking early Saturday morning when a roughly 400-pound (181-kilogram) bear flipped the lever doorknob to his home and rummaged through some dog food, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials said Monday.
The homeowner, Ken Mauldin, grabbed a gun and shot the bear multiple times until it collapsed and died just after 2 a.m., said Rachael Gonzalez, spokesperson for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Nobody was injured, she said. Officers removed the animal from the house, located in the ski-resort town of Steamboat Springs. The couple had a legal right to shoot the bear if they felt threatened, Gonzalez said.
Colorado has roughly 12,000 bears and break-ins aren't uncommon in Rocky Mountain towns. People shooting and killing bears in self-defense, however, is rare, said Gonzalez.
This particular male bear was not tagged and the department does not know if it was involved in other break-ins, she said.
“Steamboat, that area, they’ve been dealing with bears getting into homes all summer long,” said Gonzalez. "It’s not impossible that this bear learned the behavior from another bear.”
Residents of Steamboat Springs are warned by the agency to lock doors and windows, secure their trash and recycling in bear-proof bins, and even take down bird-feeders to prevent these kind of confrontations.
“These types of incidents are preventable,” said Gonzalez. “Bears are very smart. Once they learn that it’s easy to access food in a certain area, they are going to keep doing it.”
Jesse Bedayn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow Bedayn on Twitter.
This story corrects the name of a spokesperson for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. She is Rachael Gonzales, not Rachel Gonzalez.