Black bear surprises Steamboat resident with visit into home |

Black bear surprises Steamboat resident with visit into home

Brandon Gee

A strange noise in her kitchen stirred seventh-grade teacher Kerry Kerrigan from her sleep last week. When she went downstairs to investigate she discovered that a bear, which had ripped the screen off her window and pushed it open, was helping himself to a late-night snack in the kitchen.

— When Kerry Kerrigan heard a rustling from the lower level of her home last week, she assumed her cats had brought home a mouse. What she found was several hundred pounds larger.

A black bear entered Kerrigan’s home through an open window and was helping itself to everything from watermelon to cake mix.

Kerrigan yelled to her parents, who were visiting and sleeping on the same floor the bear was pillaging, to stay in their room, and she locked herself in a closet and waited for the Colorado Division of Wildlife to arrive.

Mike Middleton, a district wildlife manger with the DOW, said there have been about four instances of bears entering Steamboat-area homes during the past two weeks. Middleton said that number is typical for this time of year, when bears enter a “super feeding frenzy” and are active for more hours throughout the day.

“It happens from time to time,” Middleton said. “Bears get progressively more active as summer goes on.”

Inconveniently, that means the time of year people would most like to have their windows open is the time it is most important to keep them closed – at least on ground levels.

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“If they happen to be walking by an open window and there’s good things coming out of it, they’re just going to follow their nose,” Middleton said.

Kerrigan’s bear, which caused no major damage besides breaking a screen window and a kitchen drawer, has become a frequent visitor.

“The bear has been here every night since trying to get in,” Kerrigan said.

On the advice of Middleton, Kerrigan has surrounded her house with carpet tack strips to discourage the bear from snooping around. She hopes the bear will give up in the next few days.

“They find a food source and they’ll come see if there’s more,” Middleton said. “They’re creatures of habit.”

If a bear gets into your home, Middleton said to retreat from it, close a door between you and it, and call 911. He said to make a lot of noise and “don’t let the bear have the run of the place.”

“Within reason they can make enough noise to let them know they’re occupying the same space and the bear needs to go,” Middleton said. “A bear can have quite a time when they know they have the run of the place.”

Kerrigan said she has been keeping a vacuum plugged in that she turns on to make noise when the bear comes to her house each night. She has also begun yelling at it.

“Once you get the sense that they can’t get in, you get a little more gumption to yell at them,” Kerrigan said.

Middleton said it also is a good idea to corral pets so they don’t attack the bear. He said a bear usually won’t stay long at a location when they realize they’re not alone. He said it is rare that he responds to a bear call and finds the animal still on scene. But don’t expect the bear to run away quickly, Middleton said. Bears are the “king of the mountain” he said, and they move at their own pace.