UPDATED: Bear euthanized after attacking Routt County man near home

A Routt County man is in stable condition after a bear attacked him outside of his home in the Whitewood subdivision southwest of Steamboat Springs late Sunday, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

The man’s injuries are not considered life threatening, but lacerations on his arms and legs did require surgery. CPW officers euthanized the bear.

“This is an unfortunate reminder that we need to stay vigilant and bear aware at all times,” said Kyle Bond, district wildlife manager for CPW. “Easy access to food will always override a bear’s natural fear of people, so we humans have to stay on top of keeping all food sources secure.”

Around 11 p.m. Sunday, the man noticed the door to his garage, where he stored birdseed, was open. When he went to close it, he came upon a mother bear with two cubs. When he tried to back away slowly, the mother bear attacked, according to CPW.

When officers arrived, they began a search for the bears, quickly finding the mother near the home. The bear was euthanized, and its remains will be sent to CPW’s labs for a necropsy.

The two cubs have not yet been located, and wildlife officers are looking for them, setting up several traps for them Monday morning. When found, the cubs will be sent to a wildlife rehabilitation facility.

All bears in Colorado are black bears, though they come in many different colors, and food sources, like birdseed, can attract bears from miles away.

Sgt. Rich Brown with the Steamboat Springs Police Department said bad encounters generally happen when a bear is startled, so it is always good to be heard when hiking in the woods or even walking on the Yampa River Core Trail.

“Make sure you are talking, so you don’t come up and startle a bear,” Brown said. “When you encounter a black bear, they say you should calmly put distance between you and the bear without running.”

Brown suggested trying to talk to the bear in a loud, stern voice and appear larger while slowly retreating and being mindful of the surroundings and any other potential threats, like another bear, in the area.

“Make sure it sees you and then slowly back away,” Brown said. “Clearly this situation last night, the bear with cubs, has got that mothering instinct to protect her cubs, so she sees anything that approaches as a threat.”

It is best to keep a dog on a leash when running into a bear if possible, as an aggressive reaction from the dog, like barking and growling, could also trigger a bear to defend itself, Brown said.

Bond recommends residents try to haze a bear away when they come across one by waving their arms and throwing an available object at the bear.

“I understand that can be a little bit intimidating for folks to throw something at or yell at a bear,” Bond told Steamboat Pilot & Today in March. “But realistically, if we allow them to feel more comfortable around people, and they realize that nothing bad or annoying is going to happen to them when they are around people, they are going to gradually get more and more comfortable.”

People should not try to shoot a bear with a pellet or BB gun, Bond said. Instead, they are encouraged to call law enforcement or the local CPW office to report the bear sighting, which helps wildlife officials plan where more mitigation measures may be needed.

Birdfeeders, grills left outside and food left in vehicles can be particularly problematic around bears, as they will try to enter a building or vehicle with these things inside.

As residents get better at securing trash, Brown said he has noticed there seems to be more bears in other parts of the county. The attack Sunday was in a subdivision well outside the city limits of Steamboat. Local bears are also more likely to have multiple cubs as the bears have such good access to food.

Bears also tend to be more active in the morning and evening, often retreating to more secluded areas during the heat of the day when more people are out.

“People are up here visiting, and people want to see wildlife. The closer we get, the more dangerous those situations are,” Brown said. “In the evenings and in the morning, they are everywhere.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.