By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department euthanized a young female black bear in northwest Wyoming on Monday after it wandered into a camp and encountered a human.
Mark Gocke, a public information officer for the department, told Cowboy State Daily that it’s always an unfortunate situation when a bear has to be euthanized, but it’s especially sad when it could have been prevented.
On Sunday, the Jackson Region of the Game and Fish Department was contacted by a man who believed he’d been attacked by a mountain lion earlier in the morning at his campsite in Darby Canyon, near Alta.
When officials came to investigate, they noticed the man’s tent hadn’t been torn or punctured and neither had his clothes. But during their investigation on Sunday, officials found evidence of a bear in the area.
Department staffers laid a trap on Sunday and caught the young black bear on Monday.
Gocke noted there were “a lot” of bear attractants left out at the man’s campsite, but added that the young bear was also “very food-conditioned and pretty bold.” He added that the bear was caught during the daytime, although they are more active at night.
The PIO believed that the bear had likely gotten food from the campsite before and when it found unsecured food and garbage there on Sunday, it continued looking for more treats.
The decision was made to euthanize the bear due to its reliance on human food and the fact that it was willing to walk into a populated camp. However, Gocke doesn’t believe the bear had any predatory intent.
“I think it may have been testing the tent, trying to check for food,” Gocke said. “I don’t think it intended to hurt anyone. It may not have even known people were in the tent. It seems like it was pushing on the tent and ended up scratching someone.”
The man who encountered the bear did receive a minor injury, a scratch on his back.
Gocke reminded campers to always secure their food in a vehicle or some type of bear-resistant storage (some of which are provided by camps) while camping.
“This is really important because when a bear gets into human food, it’s a no-win situation,” he said. “It can be dangerous for people, but a bear can also end up losing its life.”