Renewed calls to be bear aware after cub is killed in Clifton home.

One Clifton family had a bear encounter quite literally close to home.
Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 12:35 PM MDT
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CLIFTON, Colo. (KKCO) - One Clifton family is urging others to be more bear aware after coming home to find a bear cub inside their house.

Joel and Misty Cody said on Monday, Sept. 26 they found the bear wandering through their Clifton home, just off 33 Road, north of I-70. Misty left for work that morning, Joel was just about to return from a two-week hunting trip on the Grand Mesa. The couple planned to meet back up at their home that morning.

“My wife pulled in about the same time I did, and she kind of sat in the car and waited for me to do what I was doing,” said Joel Cody. “Then I pulled in the driveway, and for some reason, I just had a feeling that there’s something wasn’t right.”

Unbeknownst to Joel, Misty said all week long there were signs that something was afoot in on the property, but she wasn’t sure what to make of it.

“I found trash laid out around the house and didn’t know what exactly was into it thought maybe it was a raccoon or something,” said Misty Cody. “And in the chicken coop, a five-gallon bucket of feed was dumped over. So, I thought for sure it was a raccoon again.”

But it wasn’t a racoon at all. Instead, a young black bear cub. The Cody’s said the bear got into the house through the dog door. The day the bear was discovered the couple estimates it had been in the house for about three hours before they spotted it. The house itself had traces of bear scat and the dog door itself had visible signs of paws on it.

Joel said the ironic thing about the whole situation is the fact he’d spent the last two weeks bear hunting. Then he came home to find a bear right in front of him.

“Shock was the first thing,” said Joel. “It took my brain a second to comprehend that there was actually a bear in the house. Then of course, my second thought was the family, are they okay? Get them out of harm’s way.”

“I was terrified, it was one of my biggest fears, and I actually was living it,” said Misty. “So, it was pretty scary. But I was just glad that everything worked out.”

The couple was able to get a couple of pictures and record video of the bear in their kitchen before they called Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

“They did say that they were going to euthanize it if they had to,” said Joel. “So, I asked him, I said I have a bear tag, can I just put it down? And he’s like, if you have an opportunity to put it down, go ahead and do that.”

At that point, Joel took out his 9mm pistol and shot and killed the cub.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife said it isn’t unusual to see more bears out this time of year as they are foraging for more food, trying to pack on the pounds before going into hibernation. In the last four weeks, nine bears have been killed by drivers in CPW’s region seven. Which essentially encompasses the I-70 corridor from the Utah state line up to Silt. The agency said despite the fact that the bear in the Cody’s home was just a cub, it’s considered a dangerous bear once it’s found its way into a home.

“It’s figured out a way to get into a home, and there’s no bears in a home,” said Kirk Oldham, area wildlife manager for CPW’s Grand Junction region. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s an aggressive bear or not an aggressive bear. It’s in a home, it can be dangerous, and it is dangerous. Bears don’t belong in homes.”

According to the Cody’s the bear cub wasn’t acting aggressively toward them. But even still, CPW said just because nobody was hurt by the bear, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen in the future, should the bear have been relocated instead of euthanized.

“Bears are creative, and they have learned behaviors, they can become habituated, which is a concern,” said Oldham. “That learned behavior can become dangerous at some point. It may not be dangerous at the beginning. If this was a bear that just simply got into your trash in your backyard, our response likely wouldn’t be immediately to come and trap it and euthanize it.”

Oldham and the Cody’s both agreed though, this situation serves as a great reminder about being educated about bears and their attractants.

“Be bear aware you guys I mean, you know, cover your trash at night,” said Joel. “Don’t leave your dog food out.”

“They’re very active right now, and they’re searching for food,” said Oldham. “They are attracted to those food items. And, you know, it’s just keeping those away from them. So, using a bear proof or bear resistant dumpster, not taking your trash out until the day of trash service and securing your bird feeders. Those are just really simple.”

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