Among the more terrifying things about a bear, or more specifically being attacked or eaten by a bear, is that they don't kill you quickly or make sure you're dead to spare you the misery of the mauling. No, unlike a lion or tiger which will kill you up front with a bite to the neck or head before snacking or pawing you around, a bear just gets to gnawing and tearing you apart while you're still alive and screaming.
Whether or not Peter Rizzuto was aware of this fact when he awoke from an afternoon nap and realized his leg was in the mouth of a bear isn't certain, but the bear taking Rizzuto's leg into its mouth definitely has gotten the attention of Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials, reports the Aspen Times.
The bear encounter unfolded Tuesday afternoon in Lazy Glen, Colorado, when Rizzuto, 77, was waking up from a nap on his deck and saw something furry approaching him, not realizing it was a bear.
"I thought it was a German shepherd. I started petting it and saying 'nice doggy.' It then 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, being the hick I am, but not really. I've lived here 45 years."
Rizzuto then went into his house and "the bear went along its way."
While Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials recognize the entertainment value of Rizzuto's story, they also see plenty in his bear story to cause concern.
"Black bears typically shy away from humans," said CPW spokesman, Mike Porras. "There is a comical aspect to it, but 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."
According to Porras, black bears are mostly considered herbivorous but also recognized predators that are happy to have meat as a menu choice.
"If (a black bear finds) an injured animal at all, it's possible they will eat it. If they have a chance for an easy meal, they'll take it."
"I'm worried it might trap the wrong bear," said Rizzuto.
While Porras respects Rizzuto's concerns for innocent bears, he also says there are legitimate safety concerns, reiterating that Rizzuto's bear run-in could've been "a very serious conflict," and that the "bear obviously is not afraid of humans. And if it is walking up to humans and doing this, it would not be a big surprise if it did it again."
Rizzuto's backyard, being an open area where children "come and go," also makes the seemingly bold bear a concern.
"The bottom line is, this is about human health and safety," said Porras. "No one wants to put a bear down. But when a (black) bear is not afraid of humans or is approaching humans, that is a cause for concern."
Colorado generally uses a "two-strike policy for black bears," tagging problematic bears twice at which point the bear could be killed, though relocating the bears is the option of choice.
In the end, after his bear meeting, afternoon naps on his deck are a thing of the past for Rizzuto.
"I won't be sleeping, but I'll still be on my deck," he said.
[Image via Wikia/Google Images]