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Home National & State Parks Yellowstone Aggressive Black Bear Killed by Yellowstone Park Rangers

Aggressive Black Bear Killed by Yellowstone Park Rangers

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An aggressive, habituated, and human-food-conditioned black bear was euthanized by rangers Aug. 3 in Yellowstone National Park.

The decision to euthanize the bear is the second ordered killing within a few days.

One man was killed and two other campers injured last week in separate attacks by a female grizzly bear with three cubs after the sow raided camps near the park's northeast border. Rangers put down the bear, trapped the cubs and sent them to ZooMontana.

culvert-style bear trap
In the latest incident so far in 2010, the adult female black bear had been seen frequenting the Slough Creek area in the north central portion of the park. The bear was four to five years old, and weighed between 100 and 125 pounds. Some observers had mistaken the bear for a grizzly since it was brown in color.

In mid-July, the bear entered an occupied backcountry campsite in the Slough Creek drainage. Attempts to chase the bear away failed, and the bear ate the dinner the camper had prepared for himself.

On Aug. 1, a group of five visitors set up camp at the site, only the second set of campers to do so after a two-week closure. The bear returned to the occupied site. The campers left all their gear and food and hiked to the trailhead, reporting the incident to park staff.

Members of the park's Bear Management staff hiked into the area the next day. The bear again returned to the backcountry campsite and would not leave. The animal had damaged the tent and eaten most of the food that had been left behind the day before.

Since the bear had learned to associate people with food, it posed a threat to the safety of park visitors, rangers said. Relocation of habituated, food-conditioned bears has generally proven unsuccessful.

Due to the Slough Creek drainages' popularity with anglers, hikers, campers, and outfitters, the area receives such a high level of human recreational use that the risks to public safety of a live capture operation were unacceptable. Therefore, lethal removal was considered the safest method. Park staff members traveled by horseback into the area Tuesday, and put down the bear.

Visitors are reminded to keep food, garbage, barbecue grills and other attractants stored in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes. This helps keep bears from becoming conditioned to human foods, and helps keep park visitors and their property safe.

Park regulations require people to stay 100 yards from black and grizzly bears at all times. The best defense is to stay a safe distance from bears and use your binoculars, telescope, or telephoto lens to get a closer look.

Hikers and backpackers are encouraged to travel in groups of three or more, make noise on the trail, and keep an eye out for bears. Bear pepper spray has proven to be a good last line of defense if you keep it handy and use it according to directions when the bear is within 30 to 40 feet.

 
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