Steamboat bear breaks into five cars in three days

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Some Steamboat Springs residents are ready for the local black bear population to go to sleep for the winter.

In the past three days, one bear has broken into five cars and caused serious damage.

“We set a trap for the animal, and it’s undetermined whether the animal will be transplanted or euthanized,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife Area Wildlife Manager Kris Middledorf said.

The two unlocked cars targeted by the bear Thursday night were a Hyundai and a Subaru. Subaru cars are susceptible to bear break-ins because the animals can slip their paws behind the door handles.

“There is a safety issue,” Middledorf said.

Aside from the danger to humans, wildlife officials are also concerned about the welfare of the bear.

“It’s not as well off as other bears in the fall,” Middledorf said. “We need to keep our doors locked and our houses and motor vehicles.”

Wildlife officers will likely remove the bear trap soon if they do not catch the culprit.

“We want to make sure it’s the right animal,” Middledorf said.

He believes a single bear is responsible for the car break-ins because they have all occurred in the same area near Burgess Creek Road and Steamboat Boulevard.

Middledorf said he does not expect the local bear population to start hibernating until later this month or December.

Before they hibernate, the bears will be seeking any calories they can get, which includes any food inside cars. 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. Wildlife officers will sometimes relocate bears if they are not hibernating in a good spot.

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

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