A north Boulder couple is mourning the loss of their beloved 13-month-old pygmy goat named Charm after it was attacked and killed by a bear Wednesday night in their back yard.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials tried to trap and kill the bear, but it did not return to the Quince Avenue home.
"We're just pretty shocked," local filmmaker Michael Conti said Thursday. "I've been out in the wilderness a lot, but to have that kind of experience in your own back yard in Boulder, it's pretty wild."
Conti and Catherine Carilli, who have lived at 1890 Quince St. for four years, had put their two pygmy goats away for the night, shutting them inside a shed that serves as the goats' home, Conti said. At around 9:30 p.m., Conti said he heard a clamoring on the back porch. He went outside to find a bear, which he guessed to be about 200 pounds, with the female goat in its mouth.
Conti called 911 and returned with a flashlight, which he said startled the bear, which tried to climb a nearby tree with the goat still in its mouth.
"He fell down, and stayed in the back yard eating the goat," Conti said.
The two watched, horrified, from their bathroom window.
Replaying the scenario in his head Thursday morning, Conti said he believes the curious female goat heard the bear scampering around the backyard and approached the shed doors. When the bear pried open the doors, Conti said, Charm "walked right in his arms."
Four Boulder police officers responded, as well as a Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer, Conti said.
The bear took off to the west over the couple's 8-foot security fence. The officers, who Conti said were carrying weapons and intended to shoot the bear, could not find the animal after searching neighbors' yards.
The wildlife officer then set a trap using the dead goat as bait, Conti said. When Conti checked the trap Thursday around 5 a.m., there still were no sign of the bear, he said.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said it's common to use dead animals to lure bears back to the scene.
The wildlife division's policy is to kill "depredating bears," or bears that attack livestock, Churchill said.
"It happens all the time, especially in the foothills," she said.
Churchill advised livestock owners living in bear country to "do everything they can to secure those animals from predators."
Carilli, who owns Painting Goat Studio, which is named after her "darling pets," said she never imagined a bear coming as far east as 19th Street in Boulder. If they had known, she said, they would have taken extra precautions to protect their animals. The pair also owns several dogs and cats.
"It's really distressing," she said. "I just cried like if you lost a dog because this goat would jump into your lap. I'd make her tea in the morning with honey and milk. She was just really the sweetest little thing."
Carilli said many of their neighbors have animals, including other goats, sheep and chickens. Carilli said she and Conti will consider finding another goat to be a companion to their remaining goat, Sundance, because pygmy goats thrive in pairs.
She worried that if the bear had approached their property at dusk, it could have attacked toddlers playing outside in the neighborhood.
"I'm an animal advocate, and of course I wouldn't want this bear to come to harm," she said. "But the other side of the coin is if it can kill, in one bite, a 35-pound goat, it could take a toddler."
Carilli said she also was concerned with how comfortable the bear seemed in their back yard as humans approached. The bear ate slowly, even after she and Conti turned on lights in their house, she said.
"I'm sad for the bear and sad for us," Carilli said.
Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.