A man in Colorado woke up from a nap to a bear nibbling on his foot.
Peter Rizzuto was relaxing one afternoon outside his home in Lazy Glen, Colorado, when a furry creature joined him. Rizzuto, thinking it was his neighbor’s German shepherd said, “Hi, doggy!”
He then reached to pet the animal, and it latched onto his ankle.
Rizzuto, 77, says that “It then took my ankle but didn’t break the skin. Then I saw and looked down at his feet, and I see these big claws with really beautiful nails, and at this time I realize he’s a bear, being the hick I am, but not really.”
Rizzuto shared that the bear must not have liked how he tasted because it promptly released its death grip. Following a long stare-off, Rizzuto went back in his house and the bear trudged off in search of better tasting ankles.
Funny story aside, this behavior is concerning because, according to Mike Porras from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, “Black bears typically shy away from humans…Black bears are considered predators but are chiefly herbivorous, but that doesn’t mean meat is off their menu.”
In the last two years, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has had to euthanize 20 bears who have been labeled a nuisance to the public. Colorado has a two-strike policy in which bears who have caused a nuisance are tagged. If tagged a second time, they are either euthanized or relocated.
The area averages about five calls about nuisance issues every week, and in 2014 there were almost 800 bear reports, which is an incredible increase from 42 just the year before. However, in 2012 there were over 1,000 bear reports.
The fluctuation is due to the scarcity of the bear’s natural food, such as acorns, serviceberries, and chokecherries. Another concern is extreme weather, such as killing frost, flooding, and drought. When the bears’ natural food supply decreases, they are more likely to venture into human’s territory.
As for Rizzuto, he said he doesn’t plan to do any heavy snoozing on his porch for quite a while; he plans to be vigilant for bears and German shepherds alike!