Steamboat Bear that went viral across the country after dangling from window is trapped, euthanized
Wildlife officers in Steamboat express frustration that many in public seem unaware of the steps they should be taking to avoid bear conflicts in their homes.
The bear that grabbed headlines across the country for dangling from an open window on a Steamboat Springs home was trapped and euthanized just after 3 p.m. on Tuesday.
The bear, which wildlife officers believe was a sub-adult meaning it was likely one to two years old and was spending its first spring without its mother, is the fourth bear to be euthanized after entering a home in Steamboat so far this year.
“I’m sure everybody has seen the bear that was sensationalized for dangling from the window not long ago,” said CPW wildlife officer Kyle Bond. “That bear was put down at 3 p.m. today and the reason for that was due to open windows and doors.”
The bear had drawn eyes from across the country, with media outlets from coast to coast sharing the video that ended up being the bear’s death sentence. Once bears enter a home — this bear had been in at least three — they learn it is a food source, a behavior that cannot be unlearned. While relocation is an option on paper, Bond said it is really just a feel-good solution and moves the problem rather than solving it.
“This is not something to be happy about,” Bond said, referring to the initial media coverage and social media reaction to the bear. “It’s not funny.”
Since 2020, 13 bears have been put down within city limits. Prior to this year, the average over this period was three bears a year. The bear killed on Tuesday was the fourth such bear that needed to be euthanized in just the first six months of 2023.
Over that same span, 18 bears have been killed after being hit on the road, mostly between Steamboat’s southern city limits and the base of Rabbit Ears Pass.
Bond was visibly frustrated as he addressed Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday, perplexed what else his agency can do to communicate to residents how to avoid the type of conflicts that led to this bear’s demise. As CPW officers canvased neighborhoods where this bear had been roaming on Tuesday, Bond said many homeowners seemed uninformed about common protocols for living near bears.
“It’s amazing the number of people we talk to that are like ‘really, I have to close my windows and doors’ or ‘really, there are bears active during the day,” Bond said. “How do we reach the core community that isn’t aware of the problems?”
Once a bear enters a home, Bond says the bear becomes a significant safety threat. While black bears — the only kind of bear in Colorado, even if some bears like this one are a lighter shade of brown — are generally skittish, Bond said a startled bear that feels cornered can lead to a “very violent situation very fast.”
Bond says the problem of bears entering homes seems to have seen an uptick this spring, and these types of call don’t typically start to come in until later in the year.
“We can only legislate so much, we can only tell people so much what to do,” Bond said, asking council if the city could help to try to spread the word about step residents need to be taking to avoid bear conflicts.
The bear’s death was just the latest human-caused death of an animal in Steamboat after a moose jumped to its death from a parking garage near the base of Steamboat Resort after it was cornered by onlookers.
Wildlife officer David Rehak Suma said he was responding to the call of a moose trapped on the top level of the parking garage, but by the time he arrived it appeared the moose had jumped off the structure, likely landing on its neck and dying instantly.
“A group of people came up and we’re trying to take pictures with it, and it seemed like they were trying to shoo it off,” Rehak Suma said. “From one witness, they were not giving it a good way out. It decided the best way out was going to be to jump off the thing.”
He stressed that in that situation it is best to leave the animal alone and allow it to find a safe way out on its own.
“Leave it be, that is really the message there, let it figure it out on its own,” Rehak said. “Encroaching on it is just going to make that decision sooner and quick decisions are often worse decisions.”
Top Photo Caption: Residents should keep lower-level windows and doors closed and reduce attractants near their homes to limit conflicts with bears. The bear pictured was seen near Kum and Go on Anglers in 2021 and is not the same bear that was seen dangling from the window. (Dylan Anderson/The Yampa Valley Bugle)