Steamboat Springs The bear that destroyed Babette Dickson’s metal exterior door early Monday morning wasn’t trying to break into her garage. It was trying to escape it. And in its haste, the bear left behind 10 jars of homemade boysenberry jam.
“What he did to that door, it’s like, ‘wow!’ The guy was mad and frustrated,” Dickson said. “It was a door with metal (skin) and filled with insulation. He peeled metal off the door and bent the lower left corner like it was a sardine can. He wrecked the thing. It’s like a piece of surrealist art now.”
Because it was a small bear, her neighbor spied it and estimated it stood 3 feet tall, she concluded it was able to squirm underneath the gap between the floor and the edge of the door, where it had been bent sharply upward.
Dickson lives in the Blue Sage subdivision north of Fish Creek Falls Road, where her duplex home borders the natural area along Spring Creek Canyon. She and her neighbors have seen a young bear wandering the neighborhood in daylight this month. But Dickson didn’t open an interior door at 3:30 a.m. to glimpse her intruder, preferring to remain on the other side of a wall.
District Wildlife Manager Danielle Domson said she thinks the same bear likely was responsible for damage in a second Blue Sage home Sunday night. That brings the number of incidents involving bears in garages to six or seven in July, she said.
By the middle of Monday morning, Dickson had surmised that although she keeps her garage doors closed, the side door must not have fully latched the last time it was shut. Her large green trash container was kept near the door, and the bear, wile tussling with the can to open it, must have banged it against the door latching it behind him, she theorized.
“The guy was playing football with the thing, banging it against the wall and trying to open it,” Dickson said.
Dickson and her son, Louis, 10, listened to the bear rampage in the garage for 40 minutes. Another son, James, 14, slumbered through the entire event even though he was in the next room.
“Louis said, ‘Mom, maybe it’s not a bear. Maybe it’s an alien,’” Dickson said.
It was at about that point that Dickson decided to call the police. They arrived, shotguns in hand, five minutes after the bear made his escape, she said.
Domson renewed a plea for people to look after the security of their homes and garages. Most of the bears that damaged garages this month came in through wide-open garage doors, she said. Dickson’s side door has a doorknob that typically is a bear-proof system. Bears that enter side doors most often have learned through trial and error to operate lever-style handles, Domson said.
With the arrival of hot summer weather, people should resist the temptation to leave first-floor windows open and covered only with screens, she said. That amounts to an invitation to a visit from bears. If a sow cannot squeeze through the opening, she’ll send her cubs in.
Dickson observed that the bear that banged up her side door added insult to injury by leaving a little pile of scat a few feet from a shelf where 10 jars of her own homemade boysenberry preserves sat unmolested.
— To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com