Pete Rizzuto was taking a nap outside his deck in Lazy Glen, Denver, when he was woken up by what he initially thought was a neighbourhood dog. Half-asleep, the 77-year-old pet the animal and said “nice doggy” before the creature began nibbling on his ankle.
“It […] took my ankle but didn’t break the skin. Then I saw and looked down at his feet, and I see these big claws with really beautiful nails, and at this time I realize he’s a bear,” Rizzuto told the Aspen Times.
Rizzuto remained calm and after a few moments the bear released his ankle and went on its way.
“I guess he didn’t like the taste,” Rizutto joked.
While he has no plans to take another nap in the area anytime soon, Rizutto seems generally unfazed by the experience.
Local Parks and Wildlife officials are a little more concerned. Spokesman Mike Porras said that while the story is comical, black bears shouldn’t be approaching humans: “that incident could have gotten very ugly very quickly. When a bear is close to a human and has an ankle in its jaws, I would think that is something our officers would find concerning.”
Black bears are typically herbivores, and usually scared of interacting with humans, which is why the bear’s odd behaviour is so worrying.
“If it is walking up to humans and doing this, it would not be a big surprise if it did it again,” Porras told the Aspen Times, “when a bear is not afraid of humans or is approaching humans, that is a cause for concern.”
Rizzuto has declined to have a bear trap installed on his property and plans to spend plenty of time on the back deck this summer.