Steamboat Springs Wildlife officials are urging residents to take precautions as black bear activity increases in the Steamboat Springs area.
On Friday night, a homeowner in the 1800 block of Clubhouse thought he had been robbed.
Police found paw prints, and neighbors saw the bear jump out a window.
Area Wildlife Manager Kris Middledorf said wildlife officials do not believe the bear broke into the house, but it passively entered through an unsecured door.
A trap was set for two days, but it did not catch any bears.
Middledorf said if a bear had been caught, it would have been relocated because the bear passively entered the house. If the bear had broken into the house, the bear would have been killed.
There have been reports of bears knocking over trash cans as they come out of hibernation, and the severity of bear incidents is increasing.
On Tuesday morning, it was discovered a bear got into a car in the 2700 block of Burgess Creek Road and caused damage.
Last summer, bears broke into dozens of cars, totaling some.
In 2016, wildlife officers euthanized five bears.
“Which is absolutely the hardest thing a wildlife officer has to do,” Middledorf said.
He is hopeful no bears will be killed this year, but that is dependent on the public doing its part.
“The issues that are created by the human population really is what leads to a bear being put down,” Middledorf said.
He said residents need to secure doors and windows on the ground level. Barbeque grills should be kept clean, and bird feeders should be put away.
Most importantly, residents should do what they can to keep trash away from bears.
“We really want to remind residents that they need to keep trash inside until the morning of pickup,” Middledorf said.
Bear-proof trash cans are also recommended. They are offered by all three trash haulers that serve Steamboat.
“If a bear becomes habituated to a human-supplied food source … we have a responsibility to protect human health and safety, and the bears will have to be removed,” Middledorf said.
Simply relocating a bear is not an ideal option any more as humans continue to expand into bear habitat.
“A lot of bears will try to return to the place they were captured,” Middledorf said.
Middledorf hopes there will be a plentiful natural berry crop in the woods that could discourage bears from coming into urban areas.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland