Bouncing Bear Breaks Trampoline

Bear Discovered In Highlands Ranch Yard Tranquilized, Removed

A black bear that wandered into a Highlands Ranch neighborhood has been tranquilized and moved to the foothills.

A resident on Ramshead Court, near Cottoncreek Drive, heard dogs barking about 9 a.m. Friday so he glanced out the window and thought that a big tree branch had broken.

"Then I started focusing and saw a big bear claw. And then I called neighbors and told them to get their dogs in and their kids because we have a lot of kids in the cul-de-sac," Rod Michotte said.

"I heard the panic in his voice. I kind of panicked and I thought, 'What's going on?' And he said, 'Look out the window! There's a bear in the tree!" said next-door neighbor Diana Navo.

Michotte then called his wife at work and told her what was happening.

"I said, 'Get off the phone and call 911!" Cindy Michotte said. "It completely freaked me out, of course. I knew the kids would be playing out here today. It's summertime. They have it off."

Douglas County deputies notified the Division of Wildlife and kept an eye on the bear until wildlife officers arrived. (See images of the bear.)

"He was sitting in a tree for a long time, just kind of moving around, but not really attempting to get down or anything," said Cindy Michotte.

DOW officers shot two tranquilizing darts at the 150-pound black bear and it fell onto the family's trampoline, severely bending it.

"Kids aren't happy. It broke the trampoline when he fell but he was about 30 feet into the air. It looks like it came out alright. It's a little more excitement than I anticipated this morning," Rod Michotte said.

The animal was then removed from the back yard and placed in a bear container to be taken to the foothills and set free. DOW agents estimated the bear was 2 years old.

"It probably got kicked out from mom this spring so it's looking for a place to set up home territory or range and it came down here," said DOW District Wildlife manager Tim Woodward.

Cocha Heyden, a spokeswoman for Douglas County Sheriff's Office, said it's not uncommon for bears to wander into this part of Douglas County. They come up the greenbelt, along the creek, she said.

"Two weeks ago, a bear was spotted and it brought out everyone. Unfortunately, that's not what we wanted to happen. We always encourage people to stay away and to call authorities right away," Heyden said.

"We get several sightings every year. Typically, what the bears do is they follow the drainage to get down into the metro area and they get lost and can't get out," Woodward said.

But if the bear wanders down from the mountains again, he won't be relocated.

"If we have to deal with him again, unfortunately, due to the two srikes policy, it will be put down," Woodward said.

Woodward doesn't believe the bears pose a great danger.

"You know, they are wildlife. I can't say they don't pose a threat. But I'd say you have a better chance at being struck by lightning," Woodward said. "They are mostly after berries and food people leave out like trash cans. They love trash cans."

Neighbor RJ Banat said he was not worried about the bears hanging in the area.

"The fact is, no one gets mauled by bears here, or coyotes for that matter, so I'm not worried," Banat said.

Rod Michotte said this is not the first time his back yard has been home to wildlife.

"You know what? That's the joke of the neighborhood. I get all the animals. I've had raccoons, I've had rattlesnakes. You name it -- they've been running in our yard," Rod Michotte said.

With the bear sighting, the Michottes said they will be more vigilant before letting their children play in the back yard.

"That's going to be a daily occurance -- checking out the yard. Maybe not me checking it out but my husband, ha ha, send him out first," Cindy Michotte said.

"Things like this kind of keep us on our toes and it just makes us kind of aware that wildlife is always around us and we've got to be ready for it," neighbor Michael Whitlow said.