A farm manager shoots a bear that attacked goats south of Steamboat

A large bear made its way through Old Town Steamboat Springs in June 2021, periodically stopping in trash cans for scrap. Bears are infesting homes in Steamboat Springs at an alarming rate in 2022. Last week a farm manager killed a goat-killing bear that was suspected of breaking into nearby homes.
Dylan Anderson / Steamboat Pilot Today

SPRINGS STEAM BOAT – Humble farm manager Jay Trussell was woken up at 2 a.m. on Saturday, July 15 to the sound of screeching goats.

He grabbed his gun and ran outside before he encountered a bear attacking a 200-pound goat. He shot the bear three times with the .45-70 rifle.

And the bear, which Trussell said was estimated to be around 425 pounds, was a familiar enemy. Trossell said the bear, identified with a white mark on its chest, had been at Humble’s farm before, and had killed two goats in the past two years.

Trussell reported the incidents to Colorado Parks and Wildlife and released rubber slugs. He has since shot the bear twice with rubber slugs, and chased it with a car, but he hasn’t seen the bear yet this summer until last week.

However, Trousil was ready when the animal returned. On the most recent occasion, the bear killed three goats, bringing the total number of Humble Ranch victims to five.

“We could have shot him twice before, but we tried using rubber slugs to deter him,” Trussell said. “It is not fun to shoot bears in this circumstance. … It is a pity that this is what happened.”

Black bears are omnivores, which means that they eat plants and animals. According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, 90% of a black bear’s diet consists of grasses, berries, fruits, nuts, and plants, with the remaining percentage generally coming from insects and brushed carcasses.

Because the bear was actively killing goats, Trousil was within his rights to shoot the animal.

“When (bears) are killing livestock, (people) are allowed to defend their livestock,” said Josh Daley, assistant director of wildlife at Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

After each bear shooting, Colorado Parks and Wildlife conducts an investigation to try to determine if the shooting was legal.

It is illegal to shoot a handgun within the city limits of Steamboat Springs unless the carrier is “unloading the firearm in legal defense of person or property,” according to city law.

Shooting a handgun within city limits just to scare a bear is illegal, and as Deeley pointed out, it’s probably more dangerous than anything a bear could do.

“If you feel threatened, you can take action to prevent it,” he said. “You have to be careful. Once a bullet is fired, you are responsible. Wherever this goes, it is on you.”

This applies once the bear enters someone’s home as well. However, engaging a bear inside a building can be risky. The biggest factor to consider when deciding to involve an animal is whether the bear has a clear exit.

“Try to get them out of there. Make some noise, all the things you would have done if you encountered a bear outside,” advised Dieley. “If the situation called for, you could obviously go into a room, close the door, and call the number.”

The bear released at Humble’s farm could be the same bear that broke into multiple homes in a neighborhood near Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area.

After a recent incursion, Colorado Parks and Wildlife set a trap in a house to try to hunt the bear. However, that effort was unsuccessful, and the trap was removed on Tuesday, July 19.

While there’s no way to know if the bear that was shot was the same one who invaded nearby homes, Deeley said the description is similar.

As Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers have been since the spring, Dailey stressed that people should not keep their doors and windows open, even during the day, even if they are at home. Bears are not nocturnal, can detect scents up to five miles away and have taken advantage of the many open windows on Steamboat this year..

“We hit a hot streak here with the weather and people are leaving their windows and doors open because it’s so hot,” Dilly said. “And those bears are opportunistic when you smell something inside of them.”

This story is from SteamboatPilot.com.

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