Hungry mama bear and 2 cubs destroy family's car in Jefferson County foothills

Family thinks bears smelled pack of gum, mints

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. - The ravenous bears were attracted by the mere scent of a pack of gum and some mints, but they tore apart Bob and Kristen Monzel's Honda Element hoping to find a real feast.

The Indian Hills family didn’t hear any commotion as they slept Monday night. A delivery driver alerted the Monzels of the mess in their driveway on Tuesday morning.

“I was floored," Bob Monzel told 7NEWS. “I really underestimated the power of a bear. They really kind of destroyed it."

The hungry bears left claw marks on the Honda's doors and they shredded the interior beyond recognition. Yellow insulation is all that's left of the seat cushions, and the plastic dash is smashed. There's electrical wires dangling from the ceiling and driver controls have been ripped off the side-door panel.

The Monzel family thinks this is the work of a mother bear and her two cubs who have been roaming the rural Jefferson County neighborhood in recent weeks.

“There was stuff just hanging out [of the car],” Bob Monzel said.

 “I was stunned," Kristen Monzel said, "because I just never imagined anything like that."

The family believes the bears opened a door to the Honda and perhaps got trapped inside. 

While there was no food inside, the Monzels said they did leave a package of gum and mints inside after washing the vehicle last weekend. 

Bears gorging themselves in preparation for winter hibernation need to pack on 20,000 calories a day, wildlife experts say.

The Monzels say they contacted Colorado Parks and Wildlife and were instructed to put rags soaked in ammonia under their car to keep the bears away.

Now they're waiting on an insurance adjuster's assessment of the damage.

Still, the family hasn't lost their sense of humor.

"Up here, we don't get a let of vandals -- except for the natural kind," Bob Monzel joked.