PINE, Colorado —
A bear has been euthanized after it was found 900 yards away from a home where Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) said a man was attacked during a “surprise encounter” with a wild animal and its offspring inside his kitchen.
Jon Johnson, 71, was watching TV with his wife George Field inside their Pine home Monday evening when he heard noises coming from upstairs, according to a news release from CPW. When he went to investigate, he told wildlife officers he found himself face-to-face with a bear that was enticed by hamburger buns inside.
"The bear actually opened the door," Johnson said. "There was no damage to the screen or anything."
CPW said what ensued next was a “boxing match” as Johnson tried to fend off the bear. The animal ultimately did not run away until the man’s wife ran upstairs and hit the bear multiple times with a baseball bat.
"At this point she came towards me, swatted me," Johnson said. "That's when I swatted her back and then as I was backing up here, it gave George a chance to get around behind."
The couple said a cub was also inside the home, and ran away with its mother.
"All I remember honestly seeing was this big, round blob in front of me, and I empowered myself better than you guys could ever imagine," Field said. "I don't think I've ever been that strong, and I whacked that bear as hard as I could, both hands.
"You would have thought I was a Louisville slugger."
Her husband said this did the trick.
"When George hit it, it apparently turned fast enough trying to get out that it actually knocked a hole in the wall," Johnson said.
Field wasn’t hurt, but her husband sustained a number of cuts to his face, chest and both arms during the encounter. CPW said he was treated at the scene and did not go to the hospital.
"When you're older, you wonder 'what would I do in a bad situation?'" Field said. "Now I know."
Wildlife officers searched for the bear until approximately midnight, and they resumed their efforts at around 5:30 a.m. Tuesday with help from a dog team.
The dog team was able to quickly locate a bear, and CPW said over the next hour, wildlife officers and members of the U.S. Department of Agriculture tracked the animal, which was euthanized shortly before 7 a.m. roughly 900 yards from the home where the attack occurred.
Under CPW policy, if a bear attacks and injures a human, it must be put down. The cub who was also in the house has not yet been located.
The University of Wyoming Forensics Lab will ultimately confirm that the bear that was put down was responsible for the initial attack.
CPW offers tips to minimize human contact with bears:
Keep bears out
Close and lock all first-floor windows and doors when you leave the house and at night before you go to bed.
Install sturdy grates or bars on windows if you must leave them open.
Keep car doors and windows closed and locked if you park outside. Make sure there’s nothing with an odor in your vehicle, including food wrappers, candy, gum, air fresheners, trash, lotions and lip balms.
Close and lock garage doors and windows at night and when you’re not home; garage doors should be down if you are in the house but not outside.
Install extra-sturdy doors if you have a freezer, refrigerator, pet food, birdseed, or other attractants stored in your garage.
Remove any tree limbs that might provide access to upper-level decks and windows.
Replace exterior lever-style door handles with good quality round door knobs that bears can’t pull or push open.
Get rid of attractants
Don’t leave trash out overnight unless it’s in an approved bear-proof enclosure or container. Be sure to research all local ordinances and regulations if vacationing.
Clean your trash cans regularly to remove residual odors.
Don’t store food of any kind in an unlocked garage, flimsy shed, on or under your deck.
Don’t leave anything with an odor outside, near open windows or in your vehicle, even if you’re home. That includes scented candles, air fresheners, lip balms and lotions.
Clean-up thoroughly after picnics in the yard or on the deck, cleaning your BBQ grills after each use. Don't allow food odors to linger.
Bird feeders are a major bear attractant. Only use bird feeders in winter, when bears are hibernating.
If you have fruit trees, pick fruit before it gets too ripe. Don't allow fruit to rot on the ground. Electric fences provide good protection for small orchards.
Teach bears to remain wild
If a bear comes close to your home, scare it away. Loud noises like a firm yell, clapping your hands, banging on pots and pans or blowing an air horn sends most bears running.
Utilize electric fencing, unwelcome mats and scent deterrents like ammonia to teach bears that your property is not bear-friendly.
If a bear enters your home, open doors and windows so it can leave the same way it got in. Don’t approach the bear or block escape routes.
Never approach a bear. If a bear won’t leave, call your local CPW office or Colorado State Patrol.
If a bear presents an immediate threat to human safety, call 911.
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