Pete Elliott never will neglect to latch the slider window on his truck cab again.
On Wednesday night, an animal -- presumably a bear cub -- slid open the window and squeezed through the rectangle opening, which is less than 24 inches wide.
Although there was no food in the truck, or perhaps because there was no food in the truck, the pint-sized culprit shredded the interior of Elliot's 2002 Dodge Ram pickup.
"You wouldn't believe the destructive power," Elliott said. "It ate the headrests. All that's left are the steel rings."
The Elliotts live on Trouvaille Court in the Huckleberry Lane neighborhood, just outside Steamboat Springs city limits off Fish Creek Falls Road. The pickup was parked in Elliott's driveway. Both doors were locked, and the windows were up, but the rear slider window was not latched, Elliott said.
In addition to the head rests, the bear trashed the leather seats, the ceiling liner, the padded door panels, the XM satellite radio -- even Elliott's favorite John Mayer CD. The bear ripped out so much wiring that the truck wouldn't start.
Elliott said his family is meticulous about storing trash properly and avoiding doing anything to attract bears.
"If there was any food in the truck, there might have been a mint from a restaurant in the door pocket," he said. The animal left a tube of Chapstick unmolested, but that was small consolation.
Elliott theorized that a bear cub climbed onto the tonneau cover on the truck bed and used it as a platform to squeeze through the small opening. Whether the critter panicked when it discovered it was more difficult to get out of the truck, or it was just having fun, is difficult to determine. But the claw marks in his dashboard suggested to Elliott that a small bear did the damage.
Elliott's son, Trevor, said a bear and its cub have been seen frequently in the neighborhood. A neighbor looked outside recently and saw a bear attempting to drag his propane grill away.
Pete Elliott had planned to use the pickup to drive his mother-in-law to Denver International Airport on Thursday morning. Instead, he took another vehicle.
Elliott, who used to work in the insurance business, said he anticipates that an adjustor will approve replacing the interior of his truck. When that's complete, he'll take even more precautions against a similar occurrence.
"I'll make sure the doors and windows are locked all the time," he said.
Trevor Elliott predicted that his mother, Joni, will make one more small change. He pointed to a colorful banner that hangs from the corner of the family garage.
The banner depicts two smiling bears holding hands and dancing. They may have just worn out their welcome.