Bears break into eatery freezer

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Bears seeking food to fatten up for winter targeted a Ouray restaurant early Wednesday, destroying a freezer and scattering debris through the alley.

The standing freezer, located behind The Goods restaurant at 219 Seventh St., stood battered after the incident in which the bear gained entry by ripping off a padlocked door, according to one of the restaurant owners.

“It literally ripped the entire door off my freezer out back,” said Alex Castagneto, who estimated the incident happened around 5 a.m.. “It’s crimped in the middle, the bear folded it in half. This has to be a 500, 600-pound bear at least.”

The Goods moved into the building this year and opened May 1, and Castagneto said bears have been a recurring problem over the summer. The staff tried to limit access to the freezer in the past by parking a golf cart in front of it or using other obstacles, he said, and it’s not the first time bears have broken into this freezer.

“It’s just progressively gotten worse,” he said.

About a week earlier, Castagneto said the bear broke into the freezer, which was latched but not padlocked at the time. But this time, the bear managed to muscle its way past the padlock and rip the entire door off.

Once inside, the bear rifled through the frozen ingredients the restaurant uses for its house-made entrees.

“Oddly enough, he ate all of my bread,” Castagneto said, noting he had just received a delivery.

Castagneto estimated actual damages were around $2,500 for the ruined freezer and its contents.

Bears are preparing for hibernation and are seeking 20,000 calories per day, according to wildlife officials. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife department recommends securing all possible attractants, including trash cans, food sources like birdseed and hummingbird feeders, and other things that might lure bears including grills that smell like meat or grease. For more tips on preventing issues with bears, visit cpw.state.co.us.

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