On Friday night, a Steamboat Springs man called the police fearing that his house had been robbed. But instead of muddy boot prints or a robber’s mask, they found paw prints.

The curious bear entered the Steamboat resident’s house through an unsecured door, the report describes. And how did the bear escape? A neighbor reported seeing the large mammal shimmying out of a ground floor window.

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Bears are hungry this time of year as they’re coming out of their winter hibernation, and sometimes the easiest source of food is human-supplied in the form of snacks left in cars, unlocked trash cans, and messy barbecue grills. If bears get used to this food source, they become dependent on it and end up returning to the same spots looking for a yummy treat. The presence of bears in residential neighborhoods is a clear danger to local homeowners.

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In the case of the Steamboat bear, wildlife officers did set traps for two days to see if the bear would be tempted to return, but it seems as if he’s moved on. If the bear had been caught, wildlife officers would have simply relocated him to a far off, high alpine location. But in contrast, if a bear had aggressively entered the home or a car instead of an unforced entry like the Steamboat bear, the officers would be obligated to euthanize it to mitigate the human risk. In 2016, Steamboat Springs wildlife officers euthanized five bears.

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Residents can protect the bears and themselves by utilizing bear proof trash cans, securing ground level doors and windows, and regularly cleaning out their cars. Also, thoroughly cleaning barbecue grills and putting away bird feeders at ground level once the snow melts will help protect your home. Steamboat Springs wildlife officers are hoping that spring time will bring lots of mountain berries for the bears to eat so they’re not tempted to venture down into town.

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