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A Bear In Our Crawlspace!

By: Kris Hazelton

The black bear who found a nice, cozy place to hibernate this winter, tucked away in a cozy corner of the crawlspace of a local business to sleep away the cold winter months has now left the building!

Here is a brief recap for those who might have missed the story from December 30th EP News.

Last November, the owner of Range Property Management, Gene Whannel heard sounds coming from the crawlspace and he joked to his co-workers, “That sound must be coming from a bear in the crawlspace!” Little did he know, he was right.

After they realized they actually had a bear in their crawlspace the owners were a bit unnerved and called the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife to get some advice on how to move the bear out. Wildlife officials recommended that the business owners throw rags soaked in ammonia in the crawlspace, blast an air horn repeatedly and turn on bright lights and music in the area so the bear doesn’t find the crawlspace a desireable or relaxing place to sleep.

Owners followed all advice and thought that their efforts had worked and that the bear had moved on and was no longer in the crawlspace.

The owner then hired a handyman to come and cover some holes in their foundation to keep the bear out. Imagine his surprise when he discovered he was face to face with the bear in the crawlspace! Luckily the bear was groggy from sleeping and didn’t attempt to go after the shocked handyman!

Staff at the business were a bit nervous about the bear knowing that he was just underneath the floor below them. Also, there is a trap door from the crawlspace that opens into the office as well as an outside opening to the crawlspace. Employees often worried the bear might sometime decide to pop his head up from below and approach them in the office.

After learning about Jayne Zmijewski aka “The Bear Lady,” local bear and wildlife expert, office staff called her to see if she might offer some help. When hearing that the bear was unwilling to move out, Jayne explained to them that the bear’s body systems had probably started to slow down and that he was already in “hibernation mode” and maybe instead of worring about how to get rid of the bear, at this point they should just accept the fact that he’s there for the cold, winter months and learn how to live and coexist with him! The owners and staff readily accepted the idea and “adopted” the bear and have been happy these past few month that he was there.

Throughout the winter months, office personnel would occasionally hear a thump here or a thump over there as the bear shifted position. About three weeks ago however, those thumps got louder, more frequent and would be felt in various places underneath them.

On day, they peered out the window and glanced down at the opening to the crawlspace and the bear was poking his head out looking back up at them!

Gene heard from his business neighbors that the bear was out and about at night but would come back to his “home” in the early morning hours to snooze the day away.

Jayne put up a motion detector camera and that is how we got these wonderful shots of the bear wandering in and out of the alleyway and back into the hole.

This week, the camera showed he went out, but did not come back so they got busy putting up a board over the opening to the crawlspace. The board has screws in it not to harm the bear but to keep him from trying to paw his way back in. It is warm enough for him to be out and about and the plant life is coming alive enough for him to eat at this point.

Jayne is happy to see the staff at the office took on this special charge to care for the bear. This story could have had a much different ending and he might have ended up having to be tranquilized and relocated or worse yet, killed, had the business owners and employees not cooperated and worked so well with Jayne.

Now hopefully this bear has gone up the mountain and is looking for natural food sources. This bear and others are now out so it’s time to secure your trash, put away your birdfeeders and keep your vehicles clear of all food. If we could all learn to live this well coexisting with the wildlife, what a wonderful world it would be!

If you have any wildlife issues, yo can call Jayne the “Bear Lady” at 586-9427.

© 2014 Estes Park News, Inc

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