Friday, July 13, 2012

Bear reported killed after raiding camp

Campers say animal approached their site

Express Staff Writer

Wood River Valley resident Bruce Weber took this photo of a young bear that approached his camp at Stanley Lake last week. Courtesy photo by Bruce Weber

With summer comes camping, and with camping came bears at Stanley Lake last Saturday.

Bruce Weber, manager at Backwoods Mountain Sports in Ketchum, said a black bear approached his campground on Friday, July 7, apparently attracted by a number of coolers that had been left out overnight by a neighboring camper.

Weber said the bear devoured the contents of four coolers and returned for more throughout the weekend.

He said he was eating dinner with friends on Saturday night when the bear—which he estimated was a 3-year-old—came a little too close for comfort.

"[Idaho Fish and Game] called him a juvenile delinquent bear," he said. "He was 100 yards away, but he just kept coming. My dogs were barking at him, but he just wouldn't leave."

Weber said he and his campmates tried to shoo the bear away, even shooting a handgun into the ground, but the bear was unfazed until Idaho Department of Fish and Game officers and the Custer County Sheriff's Department came and peppered the bear with shot.

Tom Keegan, regional wildlife manager with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, said Thursday that he had been informed that the bear had been killed sometime since the incident, and a conservation officer was headed to the area to investigate.

The safest way to avoid having an ursine visitor at a campground is clean camping, Weber and Keegan agreed. Keegan recommended keeping all food in bear-proof containers to avoid rewarding bad bear behavior.

Locking a cooler in a car can help, he added, but it's not a surefire prevention tactic.

"We've had some bears, with a camper top that's not of real high quality construction, if they can get a purchase on it, they can go in and tear it up," he said.

A similar situation occurred last year near Redfish Lake Lodge, when a bear broke into the canvas top of a Toyota Tundra, searching for the horse treats that were inside. Keegan said locking food in car trunks might be more effective.

Keegan recommends that campers who spot a bear call the Department of Fish and Game or the local sheriff's office rather than trying to scare it off.

"Generally, my advice would be to avoid contact," he said. "You don't know what you're getting into when you walk up to a bear and try to scare it. It could be a sow with cubs."

Kate Wutz:

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