A Durango woman who lives in the Junction Creek area northwest of downtown Durango awoke last week to the sounds of a bear trapped inside her SUV, wreaking havoc.
Around 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Sherri Haldorson went out onto her deck at her County Road 204 home after hearing her vehicle horn go off. However, she couldn’t see inside – the windows were too steamy.
So, Haldorson said she shined a flashlight into the windows and “there was a huge (expletive) bear in there shredding the interior of my car.”
Haldorson called the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office, which sent a deputy to help free the bear. But by the time the bear was released, the damage had been done.
“The car is no longer safe,” said Haldorson, a single mother who just graduated from Fort Lewis College and took a part time job teaching at Needham Elementary School this spring.
Haldorson said friends helped her put the interior of the SUV back together to the point where it’s operable.
Haldorson said she had mints and gum in the SUV, but no other food or possible attractants. She said the windows were down and the doors to the 2003 Nissan Pathfinder were closed, but not locked.
Joe Lewandowski, spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said even gum and mints are enough to lure a bear into trouble.
“Bears can smell that through a car window,” he said.
Lewandowski strongly suggested taking out anything that may attract a bear out of vehicle, and said residents should lock their doors and roll up their windows.
“It’s really important people do that,” he said. “We haven’t met a bear yet that’s able to figure out how to unlock a door that’s locked.”
Lewandowski said residents should also lock the doors to their homes and close windows when they’re not home, and also suggested keeping garage doors shut.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife has no planned management actions for the bear.
This incident is the second notable bear vehicle break-in this spring. Earlier this month, a black bear got inside a small SUV in the Forest Lakes subdivision. CPW said it has not taken actions with that bear.
“We’re hearing of more and more vehicle break-ins by bears and residents are reminded to not leave anything that may attract a bear to their vehicles,” said Bryan Peterson, of Bear Smart Durango. “Some spilled Cheerio’s, half-empty soda drink, even a pack of gum is all it takes to have your day, and vehicle, ruined. It’s best to not allow this to begin in the first place as it likely won’t end well for people, vehicles or bears.”