It’s not hibernation yet — Steamboat bear breaks into another Subaru
November 1, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Selby family woke up Tuesday morning to discover they had an unwanted visit from a member of the Steamboat Springs’ animal kingdom.
"We just went out in the morning, and it was pretty clear that a bear had gotten in there and just demolished the interior of the car," Steamboat resident Tim Selby said.
It was a clear reminder that bears have yet to go into hibernation for the winter.
The Selby’s 2011 Subaru Outback was totaled with a destroyed interior.
It is not the first time a Steamboat black bear has gotten into an unlocked Subaru, which has door handles that bears can operate with their paws in an effort to find a meal.
And, oftentimes, for some reason, the car door then closes behind the bear, and the animal gets trapped.
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Selby said the bear was eventually able to rip off an interior door handle in the back seat and escape from the car.
It was not the first time the Selby family has had an issue with a bear at their home on Fish Creek Falls Road.
A few years ago, a bear ripped through the wall of their garage.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife Area Wildlife Manager Kris Middledorf said his office was not notified of the latest Subaru break-in, but officers out of the Steamboat office have had to euthanize five nuisance bears this year and relocate two others.
He said it has been a fairly average year when it comes to nuisance bears. And that is despite there being good natural food sources in the forest, Middledorf said.
Ninety percent of a bear's natural diet is grasses, berries, fruits, nuts and plants. The rest is primarily insects and scavenged carcasses.
"The animals that came down were opportunistic, looking for easy food sources," Middledorf said.
Despite some periods of colder weather and some snow, Colorado's 8,000 to 12,000 black bears have not gone into hibernation yet.
"It's still been relatively dry and warm," Middledorf said.
Middledorf said he would not expect the bears to start hibernating until later November or December.
"They're consuming as many calories as possible to get through hibernation," Middledorf said. "These animals are still out and about."
Once in hibernation, it is possible the bears can decide to wake up and look for food if there is a warm spell.
The bears also sometimes pick less than ideal spots to hibernate, like under decks, and Parks and Wildlife officers then need to intervene.
"Some guests are concerned about being in a hot tub 5 feet away from a bear," Middledorf said. "We'll pick them up and move them to a more favorable habitat."