A bear destroyed the interior of a vehicle early Thursday near Vallecito Reservoir. It is at least the second incident in two weeks in which a bruin has broken into a vehicle near the lake community northeast of Durango.
Traps have been set in an effort to catch the bear burglar, said Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Joe Lewandowski. A bear broke into another vehicle May 21 for an empty pizza box but did not damage the interior.
Lewandowski said he could not comment on the damage done to the vehicle in the most recent break-in. A La Plata County Sheriff’s Office spokesman did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
The owner of the vehicle did not have food in the vehicle but did recently return from a long trip, Lewandowski said. He suspects the bear got a whiff of whatever food had been in the vehicle and broke in for an easy meal.
“Bears, they wander, they cover a great distance,” Lewandowski said. “If they see a spot for an easy meal or catch a scent – they have sensitive noses – and they’ve gotten a food reward from one car, they might look at other cars for reward.”
Officials believe a bear and her cub have been wandering the neighborhood north of Vallecito for weeks. They believe the sow and cub were responsible for some missing chickens last week and may have broken into other vehicles, Lewandowski said.
If the bear is trapped before it causes more trouble, officials plan to release it somewhere else, Lewandowski said. If she causes more trouble, she may need to be euthanized, he said.
“It only takes one or two things if bears are in the neighborhood to start causing problems,” he said.
CPW often gets calls about bears around Vallecito – in recent weeks there have been reports of bears knocking over garbage cans, Lewandowski said. The best way to keep bears out of vehicles is to lock doors and spray disinfectants to remove lingering odors.
Bird feeders often attract bears, too; a bear that bit a hiker near Aspen was found with a belly full of bird seed.
“We live in prime bear country, and bears are among us,” Lewandowski said. “We have to try to do everything we can to not give them food rewards.”