Happy ending for mama bear and cubs; how you can give every bear a chance for survival

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - A tale of two bears: a mama bear released back into the wild with her cubs and bear euthanized after a series of break-ins in southwest Colorado Springs.

Both stories have happened in recent weeks, and both outcomes are possible for every bear wandering around the city.

Which one comes to pass is in our hands, wildlife experts tell 11 News.

The bear family was relocated over the weekend after getting into a garage. Colorado Parks and Wildlife tells 11 News they had already scared the bears away once before and were now forced to move them.

"We were able to dart Mom, get her loaded into a trap, after Mom was in the trap, walked away from the trap and all three cubs came down and walked in," said Frank McGee with CPW.

But a sadder ending for another bear in another garage in another Springs neighborhood.

"It's a very large bear ... bears in Colorado do not get that large eating natural foods. The only way they get that big is they're getting people food, they're getting trash, they're getting bird seed," McGee said.

That particular bear had been breaking into homes and garages across Broadmoor Bluffs, helping itself to ice cream and M&Ms. In a video sent to 11 News by one homeowner, the bear wandered into her garage and got within inches of her car window. The bear was later euthanized.

"We are only euthanizing bears that don't have a fear of people," McGee explained.

Seeing bears up close is part of living in Colorado and, especially for transplants, can be an amazing experience.

But it can be a deadly experience for the bears themselves.

According to McGee, once a bear loses that fear of humans, the clock is ticking. And if they come near people or a residence again, it'll very likely be put down.

McGee stresses this never has to be the case.

"There's this kind of false narrative out there that every time someone calls [Colorado Parks and Wildlife] we are going to come and kill a bear, and that's absolutely the very last thing that we want to have happen."

McGee said people can prevent bear deaths by taking early action to keep them away, particularly keeping trash locked up or out of reach and never feeding them.

"We need to keep them away from people food, and if they are getting into people food we need to intervene."

McGee says people should never be afraid to call them.

"It's important for us to know what's going on so that we can intervene at an early stage. ... What we need is to be able to intervene early enough before those bears lose their fear of people, before they become dangerous. ... We are only euthanizing bears that don't have a fear of people."

In Colorado Springs, officials have had to put down nearly a dozen bears this year. Statewide, more than 30 have been euthanized.

To ensure a happy ending like the one the mama and her cubs had, heed officials' advice. Lock up your trash, keep your food out of reach, and call Parks and Wildlife early on -- before it's too late for the bear.