Bear breaking into cars prompts warning about locking up |

Bear breaking into cars prompts warning about locking up

Steamboat Springs resident Jessica Scroble said her car is totaled after a bear broke into it Tuesday night.
Matt Stensland

— Wildlife officials believe a black bear is breaking into Steamboat Springs cars, prompting a warning to residents to lock their doors and keep their windows closed.

Steamboat Springs resident Jessica Scroble said she can laugh about it now, but she still has to figure out what to do about her totaled Subaru after a bear destroyed the interior.

At 11:15 p.m. Tuesday, Scroble was letting her dogs out when she heard something in her usually quiet Christie Drive neighborhood.

“Literally, I could hear the bear in my car,” Scroble said.

There was huffing and puffing, the door handle was being jiggled from the inside, there was banging on the windows and the horn was sounding; then, the car’s alarm went off.

Scroble called police for help, but officers were dealing with an emergency call and had a delayed response.

“They came as soon as they could,” Scroble said.

When police arrived, they freed the trapped bear and scared it away with a bean bag shot.

Scroble was then able to see the damage, and it was extensive. Along with bear feces and urine on the seats, panels were torn out, upholstery was ripped, the doors were dented, wires were ripped out and a Patagonia jacket was destroyed.

“He was stuck in there probably 45 minutes that I knew of,” said Scroble, who works at the Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter.

Scroble does not have renter’s insurance and does not think the damage is covered. A friend is going to help her try and make repairs.

It is unclear what attracted the bear to the car.

In recent years, some of Steamboat’s black bears have learned to open car doors, especially Subarus. Their door handles allow bears to wedge their paws in and pull the handle. Sometimes, the door will close behind the bear and trap it.

Scroble and Colorado Parks and Wildlife urged people to lock their car doors.

“People just need to know that they need to lock their vehicles,” Area Wildlife Manager Jim Haskins said. “They are in an area where there are bears.”

One recent night, Haskins said, they discovered eight cars that had been opened by a bear in the Val D’Isere Circle area. There were paw prints on the cars but no damage.

“That’s why we’re so concerned,” Haskins said.

He said officers have been trying to trap the bear, but have not been successful.

So far this year, Parks and Wildlife officials have killed one bear, an animal that got into a pig pen and injured a pig in a neighborhood near Steamboat Springs Airport.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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