Bear Euthanized After Entering Home, Trapping Family in Bedroom

A black bear in Colorado was euthanized last week after entering a home and trapping the residents inside a bedroom. Wildlife officials believe the bear was trying to find a human food source, and have warned all Coloradans to properly store their food and trash.

In a press release, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) officials said that a black bear wandered into a home near downtown Steamboat Springs, Colorado on September 7. The bear reportedly entered the home through an open garage and accidentally became trapped. As a result, the bear also trapped the home's residents in an upstairs bedroom.

According to CPW district wildlife manager Adam Gerstenberger, other residents in the area reported that the bear had also previously gotten into food stored in their garages.

"The bear had a broken lower jaw that was split in the middle," Gerstenberger said in the press release. "It had healed up wrong and one of its canines was hanging out from its upper lip. The other lower canine was shattered, so its teeth weren't meeting up. The injury is likely the reason why the bear had turned to human food sources."

CPW explained that black bears are about to enter hyperphagia, or, a period in which they have abnormally increased appetites. This is because they are preparing for hibernation, so they will spend 20 hours a day trying to consume more than 20,000 calories.

Because the state's black bear population is beginning to work hard to get their extra calories in, it's extremely important that Coloradans properly store their food and trash.

CPW's website stated that all residents should avoid leaving trash or recyclables out overnight.

"Empty cans and boxes still smell like food," says CPW. "One study showed that simply putting trash out only on the morning of pick up cuts the chances of a bear visit from 70 percent to 2 percent."

Those who must store trash outside should utilize a bear-proof container. Additionally, residents should bring inside all bird feeders and bird feed, and pick any and all fruit before it ripens.

Once a bear receives a human food source, it will come back for more. And when a bear is comfortable around humans, CPW said it can become a threat. Sadly, once a bear becomes a threat, it must be euthanized.

The bear trapped inside the Steamboat Springs home had become a threat, said CPW in its release. Officers spent 45 minutes trying to coax the bear out of the home, but the bear would not cooperate.

"Our wildlife officers can utilize a variety of hazing techniques, from loud noises to rubber bullets, to scare a bear away from a property. In this particular incident, the initial goal was to tranquilize the bear and remove it from the house," a CPW spokesperson told Newsweek.

"That failed and hazing inside the home could have been dangerous since there were people inside and officers did not want to scare the bear toward the bedroom. Officers opened an outside door and created an exit for the bear, but it did not leave," the spokesperson added.

At that point, the bear had become a threat, so CPW officers had no other choice than to euthanize it.

Update (9/23/21, 9:25 a.m.): This story was updated to include comments from a CPW spokesperson.

black bear
A black bear in Colorado (not pictured) was euthanized last week after entering a home and trapping the residents inside a bedroom. Because of a broken jaw, wildlife officials believe the bear resorted to human food sources. Wendy/Jeff Sparks/Torquemada/iStock