Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials are reminding visitors and state residents to keep their doors locked while enjoying the outdoors after a bear went into a vehicle in Douglas County on Tuesday.
Wildlife officers and deputies from the Douglas County Sheriff's Office received a report Tuesday morning that a bear was in a vehicle in Larkspur. They found no signs of forced entry into the vehicle and eventually freed the bear to go back into the wild after being the vehicle for at least an hour, state parks department spokesman Jason Clay said.
"Every year we get cars that are torn apart, damaged by bears that break into cars," Clay said. "Bears can smell things up to five miles away and it doesn't have to be food. It can be sunscreen, chapstick, really any item that leaves a scent could make bear want to break into a car and investigate it."
Between 2019 and 2020, the department received 484 reports of bears getting into cars, but that number is probably much higher as some didn't report the incident, Clay said.
Some styles of vehicle doors are easy for bears to figure out.
"The vehicle (yesterday) had one of the door handles where you just pull back and it was unlocked and that's how (the bear) got in," Clay said. "So they can get into cars forcibly or into them if you leave them unlocked."
Additionally, park officials are reminding Coloradans to "Be Bear Aware" and keep garage doors closed, put bird feeders away and secure trash bins to keep humans and wildlife safe.
"Bears and humans share a lot of the same habitat and it's up to us to live responsibly with theirs and all wildlife in mind," Clay said. "To keep yourself safe, to keep our bears safe and your property safe taking these simple steps around where you live will protect your and wildlife."