SUBLETTE COUNTY – A Wyoming Game and Fish’s large-carnivore conflict team on Aug. 29 lethally removed a troublesome male black bear pushing the limits to get human food.
Hikers and campers coming out of the Big Sandy and Clear Lake areas on Aug. 24-25 started reporting incidents with the bear tearing down their properly hung food and testing food, gear and packs nearly every night since at least Aug. 23, according to supervisor Dan Thompson.
“The bear was very keyed in on attempting to procure people’s food at night and was fairly complacent around people, however many had scared it off,” he said. “Unfortunately the bear's behavior and food-conditioned tactics left no options other than lethal removal for the sake of human safety.”
Most of the hikers and campers in the area do properly secure their attractants, Thompson said. “However, this bear had learned in the past that this was an easy food source and its behavior had escalated toward seeking out human foods despite a fairly abundant berry crop.”
The bear’s behavior “reached a point where it couldn’t be tolerated,” he said.
Game and Fish employees went in to Big Sandy Lake on Friday morning, Aug. 27, and after visiting with a number of people, decided it had to be removed.
The “fat” bear was a male, 5 to 7 years old.
“There are still more bears out there, but this particular bear is no longer an issue,” Thompson said.
The Big Sandy area is well traveled this summer with more people than usual coming and going, he added, and anyone who experiences problems with bears – black or grizzlies – are advised to report incidents to Wyoming Game and Fish.
Hikers and campers are urged to continue hanging and storing food and other items with smells that attract bears. Thompson said the Forest Service is considering installing more bear-proof boxes and poles to reduce potential food conflicts.
“We urge people to secure their attractants and don't do something stupid like feed a bear, as (lethal removal) may be the end result of these types of occurrences, he said.”
Report incidents to the Wyoming Game and Fish Pinedale Office at 307-367-4352, 432 Mill St., Pinedale, or to Sublette County Sheriff’s Office, 307-367-4378.