Some Weld County residents got a big surprise early Monday morning when they discovered a black bear rummaging through their garbage and looking in their window in Johnstown’s Indianhead Estates.
The bear, about 100 pounds and no more a few years old, went up a tree outside the residence along U.S. 34 and near Weld County Road 15, said Troy Florian, district wildlife manager with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
After meandering in the area, it wound up in a tree at the corner of U.S. 34 and Weld 17 Monday morning and remained there Monday night. Weld 17 is the stoplight on U.S. 34 near the Kia auto dealership.
The bear was still in the tree as of 7:30 p.m. and wildlife officers were watching and hoping it would come down and head home after dark, said Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill. No more details on the outcome were available at presstime.
The agency asks that residents do not stop to see the bear, and anyone who stops will be asked to move.
Florian said he used a non-lethal bean bag round to coax the bear to move on from the residence early Monday morning.
“He wasn’t aggressive at all,” Florian said. “He learned pretty quick he didn’t want to be around people.”
Florian said the bear moved on to another tree in the middle of a field on the north side of U.S. 34 before making its way through the parking lot of Peak Kia and back to the south side of the highway at the corner of Weld 17.
Florian said the best-case scenario would be for the bear to come out of its high perch on its own, so he and other officers could coax it back toward the St. Vrain River drainage, likely where the bear came from.
Florian said he’s working to avoid tranquilizing and relocating the bear, since bears in Colorado only have two “strikes” before they are killed. They can be relocated and tagged once but, if they get in trouble again, they are euthanized.
“As long as he’s not hurting anything or causing alarm, we just kinda let him be a bear,” Florian said. “He’s not doing anything wrong, just following his nose.”
Bureau Chief Steve Reams, spokesman for the Weld County Sheriff’s Office, said deputies responded to help wildlife officers keep an eye on the bear.
Reams said his office wants to remind people to keep food sources — including compost, garbage, livestock feed, birdseed and dog food — in secure containers where they won’t attract animals.
In a news release, Reams said it’s important that residents not panic if they come into contact with a bear, and they should leave the animal plenty of room to escape.
He said anyone who encounters a bear should go into a nearby building and remain there until the bear leaves on its own.