Molina couple anxiously eye return of bruin to their home
Not first time couple had bears around their home
After Colorado Division of Wildlife officers chased away an adult black bear that had trapped Kurt Thompson and his wife in their rural Mesa County home for a couple hours Friday morning, Thompson said it was wait-and-see to determine if that was the last he’d see of the bear.
He didn’t wait long.
DOW officers shot the bear with rubber bullets to scare it off at about 10 a.m. Around 2 p.m., the bear was back, scavenging again for the food at Thompson’s home about a mile and a half south of Molina on Grand Mesa.
“Like most teenagers, he has a short attention span, apparently,” DOW spokesman Randy Hampton quipped Friday evening.
Hampton said the DOW would set traps Friday night to capture the bear.
“Our goal will be to trap him and relocate him,” he said. “We’ll look for a place where we can move it more than 50 miles away. It’ll probably be north of I-70.”
Thompson, 57, said he first spotted the black bear while having his morning coffee around 8 a.m. Friday. The bear then started trying to make its way through his patio door and into the house. Thompson and his wife, Shonie, who was late for work because of the bear, were trapped, awaiting rescue by DOW officers en route from Parachute.
“I was sitting at the table having coffee, and I saw this shadow, and he was walking across the patio,” Kurt Thompson said. “He turned around and put his paw up on the patio door.”
As he spoke to a reporter on the phone Friday morning, Thompson said he was holding the phone in one hand and his rifle in the other. The bear at that time was busy rummaging through his garbage, he said.
“I am a lot calmer right now than I was earlier,” Thompson said. “He was standing up on his hind legs. I was just standing on the other side of the glass.”
On its hind legs, the bear stood about 5 feet tall, he said. Thompson estimated the bear weighed about 150 pounds.
“It doesn’t show any fear at all, not a ton of aggressiveness. Right now he wants to come into the house and see what there is to eat,” Thompson said while waiting for officers to arrive. “I know you are not supposed to kill these wild animals, but I can’t have him coming into my house.”
Hampton said two wildlife officers responded to Thompson’s home in the morning. One of the officers fired a nonlethal beanbag round from a shotgun at the bear, which “got the bear’s attention, but didn’t encourage it to leave the area,” Hampton said. The officers then resorted to using rubber slugs.
“That slug got the bear moving,” Hampton said. “It ran into the brush. The officer went ahead and followed it to make sure it left the property. He fired one more slug, which caused it to hurry over the hill. Last seen headed south.”
The bear appeared to be around 1 to 2 years old, Hampton said. It did not have any tags, which would indicate it has been in trouble before.
The DOW operates on a two-strike policy with wild animals that threaten people. If a bear is causing a serious problem, it is tranquilized, tagged and relocated. If it threatens humans again, it is killed.
Neighbors in the Collbran area told DOW officers the bear had been hanging around the area for a few days. Hampton said it was probably hungry and curious, and if it really wanted to get inside Thompson’s house, it would have.
It’s not the first time the Thompsons have had bears at their home, 54213 LE 1/4 Road.
“We have had bears here a couple, three times, something like that. Never one like this that won’t run off,” Kurt Thompson said. “Usually when I see one, I can yell at it, and it runs away. It seems fearless.”
He suspects the bear smelled Memorial Day leftovers: a hot dog wrapper at the bottom of a nearly empty trash barrel.
Thompson said he has strived to bear-proof his property by removing bird feeders, not keeping pets and not leaving any garbage outside. But living in the rustic area, he does not expect this will be the last bear he sees on his property.
“We have had bears here before. I guess I panicked a little bit,” Thompson said. “I never had one that appeared to want to get into the house so bad.”