Colorado Springs bear with a taste for take-out schnitzel successfully deterred

August 2, 2013 Updated: August 2, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Mr. Bear, we're going to have to ask you to back away from the dumpster.

Twice in recent days, a bear has rolled dumpsters away from the kitchen door of Edelweiss German Restaurant in Colorado Springs. The critter rolls the trash bins to parking lot, then tips them over to get to the food.

"He's going for all the good leftovers," said Edelweiss manager Dieter Schnakenberg.

His parents have owned the restaurant, near Tejon Street and Ramona Avenue, for more than 20 years. Bears have poked around the place over the years, but he has never seen one using the dumpster as a personal shopping cart.

"I'm amazed by his agility," he said. "It takes two of my kitchen crew to move that dumpster."

The bear's antics were caught by a security camera, which propelled the restaurant into the national spotlight. The Today Show, NPR and even CNN picked up the tale of the animal with a preference for schnitzel.

The dumpster-stealing days of the big bear ended overnight Thursday into Friday, when a deterrent convinced the bear to find a more accessible meal.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials spoke to the restaurant after the videos went viral online, and provided tack strips to deter the bear.

Under state law, they need to make sure they are not intentionally or unintentionally feeding the bears, said Randy Hampton, Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman. The tack strips are uncomfortable for bears, but it doesn't harm them.

Schnakenberg said the tack strips - basically strips with nails poking out - were supposed to be placed on the ground near the dumpsters, but that seemed cruel. Instead, the strips were placed on the edges of the dumpsters.

It worked.

On its most recent visit, the bear placed paws on the tack strips and gave up. After poking around for other tasty bits, he wandered off.

The bear had stopped by earlier in the evening, but lumbered off when he saw people, Schnakenberg said.

The schnitzel might now be too much trouble to reach, but residents who put their garbage out the night before pick-up offers a easy option.

"Every trash can in the neighborhood has been flipped this week," Schnakenberg said.

Hampton urged residents who know they live in the same areas as bears to take steps to keep garbage away from bears. Trash should be set out the morning of pick-up, not earlier. Bears that get used to finding food in trash bins, also stop fearing people.

"If we have to get involved, it doesn't end well for the bear," Hampton said. "If it continues to get into the trash we will have to kill it."

Relocation is not a safe alternative in such situations, he said, because it exposes the bear to even more dangers.


Contact Kristina Iodice: 636-0162 Twitter @GazetteKristina Facebook Kristina Iodice

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