A Colorado Springs woman was arrested Wednesday after repeatedly ignoring warnings to stop feeding bears on her property, officials said.
Jo Ann Medina was arrested on suspicion of "knowingly luring bears," a misdemeanor. Authorities said she had received a number of citations and warnings since 2010, as well as a court order to stop luring the bears to her property with food.
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department first became involved after a neighbor noticed a number of bears in their backyard, spokesman Matt Robbins told BuzzFeed News. The northwest Colorado Springs neighborhood is suburban, but backs up onto foothills.
Wildlife officials then became aware of Medina's history and began to watch her property. Within a short time, six different black bears came to her backdoor. She appeared to have been feeding them dog food, Robbins said.
"Not only is it illegal, it's extremely dangerous to humans and the wildlife," Robbins said.
In 2009, a 74-year-old woman who fed bears on her property in southwestern Colorado was killed by one.
The feeding put the entire neighborhood at risk, Robbins added. This time of year, bears need about 20,000 calories a day to prepare for winter. Once they've learned food is easy to find with humans, they're less likely to forage.
"They're going to turn to the next house," Robbins said. "And the next house is going to be surprised and startled."
Authorities are now working to keep the bears from coming back to the neighborhood. Though bears are generally not aggressive toward humans, their behavior changes when food is involved, according to parks and wildlife officials.
Three of the bears that Medina had been feeding were marked with parks and wildlife ear tags, Robbins said. That means they've become accustomed to interaction with humans before, and this would be their "second strike" — cause for euthanasia.
The three other bears will be tranquilized and released, with the hope that they will reacclimatize to their natural life.
"It is our hope we can have them relocated to another part of the state," Robbins said.
Claudia Koerner is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
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