STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. -- An amusing encounter with a big brown bear inside a dumpster was caught on camera in Steamboat Springs. But wildlife officials say there are several things that could have turned this friendly encounter into a dangerous one.
“Once a bear loses its fear of humans, it’s not likely to run off as quickly as it did,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Mike Porras said. “And the next person that comes along may face a situation that puts their human health and safety at jeopardy.”
The first concern for wildlife officials was the fact the dumpster was unlocked. Steamboat Springs has a trash ordinance, requiring garbage be bear-proofed.
Officials also believe the man got too close to the bear and should have called parks and wildlife officials.
“He received a food reward out of that dumpster and it is very likely that bear will continue that behavior,” Porras said. “It’s very possible our wildlife officers will see that bear again.”
Porras also said when officials say “haze the bear” it does not mean say “hey bear.”
“It can be rather aggressive behavior (when scaring off a bear). You can use an air horn, and in some cases our officers are now using a taser to condition the bear that being around people is not a good thing,” Porras said.
Experts also say that when you encounter a wild animal, you should always leave an escape route.
“Not giving the bear an escape route, that can lead to a situation where the bear feels threatened, it feels cornered,” Porras said.
Porras added that wildlife officers are busy every day responding to bear calls in the high country. So learning to live with wildlife is imperative in Colorado.