Colorado is home to about 12,000 black bears, but attacks on people are rare. One Colorado man had a close encounter of the strangest kind when he woke from a nap on his porch to find a bear nibbling his feet.
Peter Rizzuto, 77, lives in the small mountain town of Snowmass near Aspen, Colorado. He was enjoying a lazy afternoon napping on his porch until he was awakened by a black bear nibbling on his toes. At one point it clasped its jaws entirely around his ankle, according to Reuters.
Rizzuto was not initially alarmed, telling the Aspen Times he mistook the bruin for a very large dog. He started petting it and saying “nice doggy,” later describing the animal as medium sized and relatively gentle. Then he shook away the sleepiness and took a good look at what was really taste-testing him.
He saw big claws and what he described as “beautiful nails” and realized that it was a bear.
The bear stopped his exploration when Rizzuto woke up, simply staring at the man who carefully stood up and moved slowly into the house.
The encounter was brief, and the skin on Rizzuto’s ankle wasn’t broken but he did call the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department the next day to report the incident. Wildlife experts suggested placing a bear trap in the yard, but the offer was declined. Peter was worried that they’d trap the wrong bear, and was also concerned about having a trap placed there because children regularly walk through his yard.
Parks and wildlife officials say the bear hasn’t returned yet, but it’s likely that it will. A bear that has no fear of humans or is openly approaching them is dangerous. Spokesperson Mike Porras says “No one wants to put a bear down, but one that has no fear of people is a cause for concern.” The department may still lay a trap for the bear on a nearby public area.
Rizzuto says that from now on, he’ll be taking his naps inside.