Grandmother Fights Bear In Bedroom With Pillow

Sow, Cubs Captured After Returning To Vail Home

It's like a real-life version of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears."

Vail grandmother Sally Rebehn fought off a bear that broke into her bedroom with a decorative pillow.

The mama and one of the cubs then went into the kitchen and had a meal -- feasting on ice cream, chili and what appeared to be their favorite, leftover barbecued chicken wings from Moe's Barbecue.

"The ice cream was too cold, the chili too spicy, but the Moe's barbecue was just right," said Rebehn.

"I heard the door open to my room and I thought, 'Well, it's gotta be Yoo-Hoo the family dog.' And I turn around and here was this big bear. I was screaming and she went up on her hind feet. And I was in between my bed and the wall. I grabbed one of these pillows and I just slung it at her. And she turned around and she left," said Rebehn of the encounter in her bedroom.

Rebehn lives with her son and his family. Her son, Brian Hoyt, was watching the Rockies game on television upstairs at the time.

"And the Rockies had just started one of their trademark late-game rallies. And (my Mom) goes downstairs and all of the sudden I just hear this scream. And I'm like, 'What in the heck is going on?'" Hoyt said. "And she says, 'There's a bear down here!' And I'm like, 'Ma, there's no bear down in our basement.'"

At that very moment Hoyt spotted a bear cub walking into the back bedroom.

"And at that point I ran back upstairs and found a big towel near the hot tub. I thought, 'OK, I can just wrap the bear in this towel and carry it upstairs and throw it outside," said Hoyt.

"And just as I come around the corner, the bear had come out of the back bedroom and it had grown another 300 pounds and two-and-a-half feet and I just look at it and I'm like, 'Oh, this is not gonna work out at all,'" said Hoyt who didn't know the mama bear was also in the house. "As I see it I scream and then it hisses at me and gets on its hind legs. I came back and that thing had grown about 300 pounds."

"I was just hiding in my bedroom. And I was peeking out the door. And Brian's hollering at me, 'Mom, keep that door shut!'" said Rebehn.

"As I'm running back upstairs I run by my Mom and I still see her peeking out the door as I'm trying to get out as fast as I can," Hoyt said. "I was going up the steps, I'm laughing, telling my Mom to keep the door shut and just thinking, 'I'm failing miserably here.'"

At that point Hoyt called 911. When the Vail police arrive, they shot the bears with pepper balls to get them out of the house. The mama and three cubs, two that didn't go into the house, retreated into the woods.

Less than a week later, they returned -- ripping up screens trying to get in through the windows.

"And of course it was a time when my son and his wife were gone. The bears would terrorize the old people that were here," said Rebehn. Hoyt's father and father-in-law also live in the home.

That's when the Division of Wildlife got involved. They trapped and tranquilized the mama bear and all three cubs.

"And even the wildlife people said that's a big mama," said Rebehn.

The family even put plywood with nails outside the windows as a defense, but the bears walked right across those nails.

"Just stepped right on them like, 'Oh, that's just a minor inconvenience,'" said Rebehn.

As the DOW tried to tranquilize them "all three of the cubs ran up this tree right over here," Rebehn said.

The DOW eventually tranquilized all of the bears. Two of the cubs were relocated, but the mama and the cub that broke into the home were put down because they showed aggression toward humans.

Wildlife officers said the mother bear and one cub were put down because they entered the home and threatened residents. The two remaining cubs appeared to be afraid of humans and were relocated, according to Randy Hampton, a spokesman for the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Hampton said there was nothing specific on the property that attracted the bears. The mother bear apparently associated homes with food.

"Once bears learn they can get food in homes, there's not a lot you can do to keep them from getting into homes," Hampton said. "We have bears that have learned to open car doors and sliding glass doors."

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