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Aug 22, 2013 12:32 AM by Eric Ross

Man set to appear in court for luring bears into neighborhood

A Colorado Springs woman will be standing by her husband's side in court Thursday over accusations he deliberately put food outside their home on Wintery Circle S. to attract bears.

Combined, the couple has received 5 citations and a written warning for the same offense.

Charles Medina was at work when we dropped by his home Tuesday afternoon, but his wife, Jo Ann, had plenty to say when we asked about the citations she and her husband have received for purposely trying to lure bears and wildlife into the neighborhood.

"This is a bunch of crap," Jo Ann said. "I'm not trying to attract the bear. When I put a dish of cat food out or put some food out on the back deck or front deck, I'm not trying to attract anything."

Neighbors say otherwise. In a series of formal complaints obtained by News 5, one neighbor witnessed food being tossed to two bears. Another witnessed bird seed being tossed to bears from the couple's deck. A complaint by a third neighbor last September said she had seen as many as 10 bears at the home and claims she was charged by one of them just a week prior to notifying wildlife officers.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife could not discuss case specifics with News 5 because of the pending court case, but did speak in terms of the legality of feeding wild animals.

"When a bear or deer comes on your property and starts feeding off of the food, it is illegal," said Sabrina Hurwitz with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. "It doesn't matter what your intent is."

Parks and wildlife has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to feeding wild animals because of numerous safety risks.

"When we bring animals into our property and we start feeding them, it gets them away from their natural behaviors so they get more used to humans and get closer to us and not willing to leave our properties," Hurwitz said. "They can become a danger especially when it becomes mating season."

Medina disagrees, saying she's never seen a bear act aggresively toward her. In fact, she even showed News 5 the food still on her patio deck.

"The birds eat the cat food," she said. "Occasionally a bear will wander by and he will see the food and eat it."

Jo Ann has pled guilty in the past and paid the fines in order to avoid paying court costs. This time, her husband is fighting the ticket because the two believe they've done nothing wrong.

"It's really no different from a person who has dog food on their deck or people who are hanging up bird feeders," Jo Ann said. " I just think people have a fear of these bear. I mean they are just trying to get ready for winter."

News 5 will be sure to keep you posted on the jury's ruling.



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