"I literally thought I might be dead," Chernosky told Good Morning America.
Dave Chernosky might want to buy some lottery tickets because he is one lucky human after a bear encounter in the kitchen of his home.
"The incident began about 1:30 a.m. (Friday, 7/10) when a homeowner responded to noises in his house. A large bear had entered the home through the front door," Colorado Parks and Wildlife said in a statement.
Chernosky told Good Morning America that he immediately knew something was amiss when he heard the noises.
"I was asleep and heard something in the kitchen. And I just kind of laid there thinking, 'Okay, something's wrong,'" Chernosky told Good Morning America. "So I went to the kitchen, saw [the bear] there. He was already in the fridge and cupboards and stuff like that."
Fearing for his kids in the basement of the home, Chernosky tried to get the bear's attention to lure him into the garage and then outdoors. It worked at first, but, unfortunately, when he opened the garage door, the bear spooked and took a swipe at Chernosky.
"...As soon as we looked at each other, he just smacked me … and after I got out of the way and started yelling, he left," said Chernosky to Good Morning America. "Luckily, [the bear] wasn't really after me. He just looking for food, and then I don't think he was planning on encountering me either."
Chernosky suffered severe, but not life threatening, injuries to his cheek, jaw, neck, ear, and back, which required surgery. He was transported to an Aspen area hospital and then transferred to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction.
Unfortunately, since the bear had entered the home and responded aggressively, it was located by CPW and euthanized. It had been seen frequenting the neighborhood for several days, as well as may have been the same bear that has been raiding trash cans for the past couple of years. Attempts to haze, trap, or relocate that bear had been unsuccessful.
“Based on the direct and clear trail that tracking dogs quickly followed, along with the physical description of the bear from witnesses, we’re certain that we got the offending animal,” said Matt Yamashita, Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Area Wildlife Manager, who oversaw the response operation. “We never like to have to put an animal down, but the protection of the public is paramount once a bear begins entering homes and responding aggressively toward people.”
This unfortunate event reminds us all that living in bear country has its risks to both humans and animals, and thankfully Chernosky was not injured more seriously (and extremely lucky the bear's claws didn't catch an artery in his neck, yikes). The best thing we can do is to take precautions to ensure that bears don't get used to coming to human spaces looking for easy food sources like unlocked trash cans and more. It is as much for their safety as it is for ours.
“This is a good time to remind everyone who lives in bear country that they need to be vigilant and responsible,” Yamashita concluded. “Proper management of trash and recycling is the first step to keeping bears away from neighborhoods. Locking doors and windows and keeping cars locked is also important.”