DWR provides black bear safety tips

A young black bear munches on acorns in Central Utah. (Photo by Steve Gray, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

Officials located and killed a bear that disturbed a campground and injured a boy in Hobble Creek Canyon early Tuesday morning.

Around 6 a.m., a male black bear entered a campsite on private property in the left fork near the top of Hobble Creek Canyon, according to public information officer Faith Jolley with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

A Boy Scout group were camping in six different tents in the area when the bear began to investigate one tent located 150 feet away from the others in thick scrub oak.

“It doesn’t sound like the bear found food or was looking for food,” Jolley said. “Our biologists believe it may have just been curious.”

The bear scratched the outside of the tent and injured the back of a scout sleeping inside. When the boy woke up and made some noise, the bear was startled and ran away.

At least two other boys were sleeping in the tent at the time and were not injured.

The scratches did not tear through the boy’s shirt and left superficial lines on his back, Jolley explained. Authorities are still trying to contact his family members and did not release his identity.

“The boy was not transported to the hospital and he is expected to be okay,” she said.

DWR officials arrived at the area around 10 a.m. and trained dogs treed the bear about 450 yards away from the campsite. The bear was euthanized, and officials determined the animal was about 2 years old and weighed 150 pounds.

The scouts are ages 12 to 13 from Utah and Colorado and plan to continue camping until the end of the week, Jolley said.

“The Boy Scout leaders did a great job. They made absolutely sure there wasn’t any food in the tents and that their whole campsite was clean which is what we definitely recommend,” Jolley said.

The DWR tweeted the bear clearly demonstrated a lack of fear for humans and the animal was euthanized for safety reasons per division policy. Officials can’t relocate the bear due to the possible risk of making a problem somewhere else, said DWR game mammals coordinator Darren DeBloois.

“This is a very rare occasion,” he said. “We have lots of black bears in Utah and very rarely do they come into contact with people.”

Hobble Creek Canyon is a common area for black bears, especially in the spring and summer. Black bears have shorter claws, are good tree climbers and usually weigh between 150 to 250 pounds.

Bears in Utah are usually brown or cinnamon colored rather than black and tend to stay in mountainous regions, DeBloois said.

Ashley Stilson covers crime, courts and breaking news for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at 801-344-2556 or astilson@heraldextra.com.

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