Bear breaks into Glenwood home, hotel | AspenTimes.com

Bear breaks into Glenwood home, hotel

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

Photo credit and cutline w/JGar's story

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Sig Olsen was surprised, to say the least, when he opened the front screen door to his Glenwood Springs home and noticed a tear in it.

At that moment, a female black bear poked her snout through the tear in the screen door, surprising Olsen.

“I think I scared her as much as she scared me,” Olsen said.

Olsen returned home about 4:30 p.m. Monday with his 17-year-old daughter, Angela Means. That’s when they found that the black bear had made itself at home in their house.

Tuesday, Olsen was again surprised when the bear returned, just after a repairman finished fixing his screen door. The bear left pretty quickly, but made its way over to the Hotel Colorado where it walked right through an open door on the east side of the building.

Olsen said that he’d seen what he thinks is the same black bear at least twice in the previous two weeks, rummaging around his yard. Olsen’s home is just north of the Hot Springs Lodge next to the Hotel Colorado.

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The bear was captured on Tuesday afternoon.

Colorado Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton said that they received a call that the bear was heading west from the Hotel Colorado. DOW officers gave chase, and the bear eventually went up a tree east of the Glenwood Adventure Park gondola.

Hampton said the bear was tranquilized, and several people from the public helped haul the animal down the hill.

“We’re in the process of relocating it now,” Hampton said. “We move them more than 100 miles away. We want to make sure it doesn’t cause problems again, and we want to give it as good a chance as we can.”

The DOW has a two strike policy, so this is strike one for this bear. Another similar incident will likely mean a second strike and the animal could be destroyed.

Hampton said they evaluate each case individually before a decision is made.

If a bear is aggressive toward people, the animal is usually destroyed immediately, Hampton explained.

“There was no aggression from [this bear], and that’s why it’s being relocated,” he said.

Hampton said the bear is in good physical shape and is 2 to 3 years old.

Olsen, 60, said he had left his front door open Monday, as he often does, to cool down the house because it has no air conditioning. He has lived in the house for most of his life and he said he knows better than to leave his doors open.

“The door was opened and the screen was closed, I didn’t think anything of it,” Olsen said.

He was watching television, a couple of weeks earlier, when he first saw the bear walking across his front porch.

“That should have gave me the sense to close the front door,” he admitted. “I will from now on.”

Monday, the bear made its way into the house from the front door and commenced to ransack the home, emptying the refrigerator and making a mess in the kitchen.

On Tuesday, after the bear once again visited the Olsen residence, it made its way across the street to the Hotel Colorado, where the doors are often left wide open as well, and walked right into the hallway, according to Hampton.

Hampton said that the bear only made it a few feet inside the hotel when a guest noticed it, stopped and snapped a photo of the animal. Then the bear retreated.

Shortly after that, the DOW got the call and gave chase.

Hampton reminded residents throughout Glenwood Springs and neighboring areas that bears are around and people should take proper precautions to not attract them.

Keeping pet food inside, barbecue grills cleaned and in a secure area such as a garage when not in use, bird feeders out of reach where a bear cannot get to it and trash inside until the morning of pickup, and picking up any fallen fruit from fruit trees are steps residents can take to keep the bears at bay.

And keep doors closed when you’re not at home. Olsen can attest to that.

“We’d just been talking about nobody in Glenwood locks their doors, or even shuts their doors when they go to town,” Olsen said. “My daughter said, ‘The only thing you have to worry about is the bear.'”

Hampton said it’s been a fairly busy bear season for the DOW but he hopes the upcoming berry crop will move the bears back into the high country.

“As soon as the berry crop ripens up in a week or two then we’ll be in good shape,” he said.

jgardner@postindependent.com

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