Recent media reports detail numerous human encounters with black bears.
In most instances the bears became food-conditioned, lost their natural fear of humans, and become a threat as they roamed in search of an easy meal. These bear was either relocated or euthanized by rangers because they posed an obvious human safety risk to campers.
Several samples of these reports follow.
Black Bear Killed at Yellowstone Campground
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that a black bear that refused to leave a Yellowstone National Park campground after getting a taste of human food there was killed by park staff.
The 142-pound adult male black bear entered the Canyon Campground and came within six feet of a man and woman eating.
The campers backed off, and the bear ate some of the food off their table. It then went through their garbage and pawed at their tent.
As the bear left their campsite, it checked out tents, fire pits and bear-proof trash bins, and food-storage boxes at other campsites.
Rangers hazed the bear out of the campground, but it returned later in the day. Out of a concern for safety, the bear was shot and killed later that night.
Bear Aggression at Colorado Campgrounds
The Aspen Times reported that a bear tried to break into a car less than 30 feet from a campsite, and set the car alarm off five times in one evening. The next day, a large black bear broke into a car in the Difficult day-use parking lot with several people watching. The bear bent a door and broke a window before leaving the lot with a bag of marshmallows in its mouth.
“People need to remember that black bears are smart, wild, and very strong,” said Roy Schoepf, a Difficult Campground camp host.
“The bear we’ve been seeing pushed over all four of our bear-proof dumpsters on one visit. They’re fearless and can do a lot of damage if they want.”
There have been multiple bear sightings at the Difficult Campground, as well as several surrounding campsites.
The public needs to be aware that dealing with bears is serious business and caution must be taken at every level.
Colorado has a “two-strike” policy under which bears may be tranquilized, ear-tagged, and relocated once if they are in an inappropriate location or they have engaged in episode(s) of “nuisance” behavior. If that same bear has to be physically dealt with again (tranquilized or trapped due to inappropriate location or nuisance behavior), the bear is put down. Bears that pose a public safety risk will be put down regardless of whether they have ear tags or not.
Bears are territorial and get into a habit of returning to where they find food.
Black Bear Killed at New Mexico State Park Campground
MyHighPlains reports that New Mexico Department of Game and Fish officers trapped and killed a black bear after it tore open a tent with two campers inside in the Lake Alice Campground at Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton.
The women in the tent were able to escape uninjured and set off their car alarm, which scared the bear away.
Department officers who responded to the call said the bear apparently was attracted to the campground by birdfeeders hung by campers. The bear went from campsite to campsite, knocking over birdfeeders and grills before raiding the women’s tent.
The women did not have any food in their tent. Most other campers in the campground were sleeping in camp trailers.
The bear was killed because it posed an obvious human safety risk to future tent campers.
“We can’t emphasize this enough: When you are camping, don’t put up birdfeeders or leave any other food sources out that may attract bears or other wildlife,” Conservation Officer Clint Henson said.
“In this case, putting out birdfeeders put everyone in that campground at risk and resulted in the bear’s death.”
Bighorn National Forest Visitors Urged to be Bear Aware
A USDA Forest Service news release reports that Wyoming Game & Fish Department game warden trapped a black bear in the Bighorn National Forest.
The 4-year-old male bear had received a food reward from a camper in the Dayton Gulch area earlier that morning. That evening, the bear returned for more. The bear was euthanized.
Please Note: This is Part 1 of a two-part series on Bears and Bear Safety.
Part 2: Being Bear Aware
In many cultures, the bear was looked upon with such reverence that members of the culture were not allowed to speak the word for “bear “. Instead, they referred to the animal with varied and creative euphamisms. Several names were used by the Navajo and other native groups—Fine Young Chief, He Who Lives in the Den, and Reared in the Mountains.