STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — A Steamboat Springs man had a rude awaking Saturday morning when a roughly 400-pound bear flipped the lever doorknob to his home and rummaged through some dog food, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) officials said.
The homeowner, Ken Mauldin, grabbed a handgun and shot the bear multiple times until it collapsed and died just after 2 a.m., said CPW spokesperson Rachael Gonzales.
Mauldin said he woke in the middle of the night to the sound of his wife screaming and two dogs barking.
"When I got out of bed, [my wife] started screaming, ‘there is a bear in the house.’" Mauldin said. "So, I grabbed a .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun."
Mauldin said he fired nine shots.
“I shot it, and then it charged me, and I kept shooting at it," he said. "It backed up and changed directions, busting through our banister railing and landing on the stairs and then it slid down and wound up in a pile at the bottom of the stairs.”
Mauldin said nobody in the home was injured.
Officers removed the animal from the house in the ski-resort town. The man had a legal right to shoot the bear if he felt threatened, Gonzales said.
Colorado has roughly 12,000 bears and break-ins aren't uncommon in mountain towns. People shooting and killing bears in self-defense, however, is rare, Gonzales said.
This particular male bear was not tagged, and CPW does not know whether it was involved in other break-ins, she said.
“Steamboat, that area, they’ve been dealing with bears getting into homes all summer long,” she said. "It’s not impossible that this bear learned the behavior from another bear.”
Mauldin said he's noticed the frequency of bear encounters in town this summer.
"There seems to have been a significant escalation of bears entering homes this summer that seems to be more prevalent than previous seasons," he said. “It would be helpful, in my opinion, if CPW could escalate their efforts in trapping these bears.”
CPW warned residents of Steamboat Springs to lock doors and windows, secure their trash and recycling in bear-proof bins, and take down bird-feeders to prevent these kind of confrontations.
“These types of incidents are preventable,” Gonzales said. “Bears are very smart. Once they learn that it’s easy to access food in a certain area, they are going to keep doing it.”
Video below: Bear tries to eat a home security camera outside a home in Bailey:
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