A bear that broke into a car early Tuesday near Vallecito Reservoir had a craving for pizza, but the bruin lumbered away with an empty stomach.
“There wasn’t any food in the car,” said Abigail Armistead. “It was an empty box.”
Armistead said she got home from work at The Rusty Shovel Saloon around 12:45 a.m. to find the door of her husband’s car open. It was snowing, she said, and she was confused why the door of the car would be open.
Armistead went inside to talk to her husband, who said he didn’t leave the car door open. The couple went back outside to inspect and found big, round paw prints on the door of the car and bear tracks in the snow walking away from their home.
The pieces of the puzzle started to come together, she said, when they found a pizza box her husband had left in the car ripped up. It appeared the bear tried all the doors of the car to access the pizza inside, Armistead said. The bear eventually figured out how to open one of the doors, she said.
In similar situations, a bear that breaks into a vehicle has the capability of causing so much damage that the car can be totaled. But despite the intrusion, Armistead said the bear did not damage the vehicle.
“It’s remarkable there was no damage,” she said. “We’re extremely fortunate that didn’t happen to us.”
Joe Lewandowski, a spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said even an empty pizza box can attract the keen sense of smell of a bear. He said it’s important people lock their car doors and don’t keep any food inside a vehicle.
Lewandowski said it is also important that residents report bears that get into trouble, before it’s too late.
“If a bear is causing minor issues, we really want people to call us, because if we can respond early, our wildlife officers have more options,” he said. “But if people wait until a bear starts causing serious damage, like breaking into a house, we have no choice other than to euthanize.”
Bears generally wake from hibernation around mid-April, and wildlife officials recommend a number of actions to avoid human-bear conflicts, such as taking down bird feeders, securing trash and sheltering livestock.
Not leaving food in cars is one Armistead and her husband won’t forget anytime soon.
“Lesson learned, for sure,” she said.