Bear Break-in Serves as Safety Reminder

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One Southern Colorado family thought they already knew about living near bears, until this weekend when one broke into their kitchen.

The entire Gauvin family was at home Saturday afternoon, when they heard sounds coming from their kitchen. When they got to the kitchen, they saw a bear leaving out the window after it had broken in and helped himself to some of their food.

"He ate a soup can filled with bacon grease that we poured off meat, and he ate half a loaf of bread," said Coralyn Gauvin. She and her family are used to seeing bears around their house, and they generally take precautions. "We don't have any bird feeders, we don't have any squirrel feeders. I get paranoid even when we barbecue."

But in the summer heat, they made a mistake. "We had the windows wide open," said Coralyn. "We usually have them cracked a little bit."

Their neighborhood in Manitou Springs is a known bear area. The Division of Wildlife even sent out a letter to residents there in May, explaining Southern Colorado is running out of undeveloped land where bears can roam, and telling residents about the steps they need to take to make sure bears stay away.

"It's a beautiful area, very natural, wooded lots, and it's bear country," said Coralyn. And in the height of summer, bears are loading up on calories, teaching cubs to feed, and going anywhere for a meal. That means the simple rules are all that more important to follow.

"We should keep our windows more closed," said Coralyn. "Bear encounters tend to be people's fault and not bear's fault."

Here are some of the steps the DOW recommends:
* Keep house doors and windows closed and locked.
* Keep car doors and windows closed and locked.
* Keep grills inside, not left in the yard.
* Keep trash containers inside until the day the trash is collected (don't leave them out overnight), and ensure that the lids are on tightly.