Yellowstone black bear killed after repeatedly raiding campsites

2010-08-03T17:54:00Z 2010-08-06T18:46:57Z Yellowstone black bear killed after repeatedly raiding campsitesGazette Staff The Billings Gazette
August 03, 2010 5:54 pm  • 

A black bear that took a liking to campers’ food was killed by officials in Yellowstone National Park on Tuesday.

The 4- to 5-year-old female was hanging out in the Slough Creek region in the north-central portion of the park, which is popular with anglers, horseback riders and hikers. The bear weighed between 100 and 125 pounds.

The bear had several run-ins with campers before the decision was made to kill it. In mid-July, the female entered an occupied backcountry campsite and ate a camper’s dinner, despite the attempt to scare the bear off. A two-week closure of the site was enacted in hopes the bear would leave. Then last Sunday, a group of five people camped at the site, only the second set of campers to do so after the closure. The bear returned, scaring the campers, who left all their gear and food and hiked to the trailhead.

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. Since the bear had learned to associate people with food, park staff traveled by horseback into the area Tuesday and killed the animal.

Bear biologist Kerry Gunther said last week that a cold spring delayed the greening of vegetation in the park this year, which could be part of the reason bears are so hungry. The park removed one young male grizzly that was raiding campsites at Norris in early July. That bear was shipped to ZooMontana in Billings. One black bear was also killed in late June after it became aggressive in the Lake area and raided campsites.

Last week, a female grizzly with three cubs raided campsites near the northeast border of the park, killing one man and injuring two others in separate attacks. That bear was euthanized and its cubs are now at ZooMontana.

Visitors are reminded to keep food, garbage, barbecue grills and other attractants stored in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes. Park regulations require people to stay 100 yards from black and grizzly bears at all times.

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