Black bear euthanized following relocation


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Black bear euthanized following relocation

LARAMIE – Wyoming Game and Fish Department personnel were forced to euthanize a black bear that showed up at a Laramie residence after being removed from a residential area in Colorado just a week before.

The 80-pound yearling male was trapped after getting into trashcans and dumpsters in Fort Collins, Colo., in early July. “It was receiving food rewards and getting used to people,” said Rick King, Laramie Region wildlife supervisor for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. King said Colorado Parks and Wildlife trapped the bear on July 9, ear tagged it, and relocated it into suitable habitat on Bull Mountain near the state line on July 10.

The bear found its way to a residence on Mason Lane about 15 miles south of Laramie on July 16. Taking into account multiple factors (distance from Laramie, behavior of bear), Game and Fish Department personnel decided to monitor the situation and leave the bear alone. Although the ear tags were visible its previous history was unknown. “We gave it the benefit of the doubt and hoped it would return to suitable habitat,” King said. 

However, the bear made its way to West Laramie on July 18 instead, where it was discovered up a tree in the yard of a residence in town. An audience gathered to watch as biologists successfully darted the bear and used a tarp to break its fall from the tree. Once the bear was sedated and secured in a culvert trap, WGFD contacted Colorado Parks and Wildlife and learned how the bear came to sport the green ear tags. Based on this information, and the food-conditioned behavior of this individual, the decision was made to euthanize the bear.

Bears are attracted to human food sources and can quickly become accustomed to receiving food rewards around humans if attractants are not properly secured. Once that happens, they become habituated to people and often become more brazen and sometimes overly aggressive. When a bear is deemed to be a threat to human safety, Game and Fish has no choice but to euthanize the animal.

“These are heart-wrenching decisions for our people to make. We don’t like destroying these animals,” King said. “But for public safety it was the best decision.” In August 2014, a yearling black bear that had no previous offenses was successfully relocated from a Laramie neighborhood and returned to the wild.  

Wyoming residents can help prevent bears from becoming habituated and ultimately being destroyed by being vigilant about keeping their property free of potential bear attractants. Possible bear attractants include garbage, compost piles, bird feeders, barbecue grills, pet food, and other potential food sources. Hang bird feeders high enough to keep them out of bears’ reach and pick up any feed that falls to the ground. Anything with an odor is a potential bear attractant, and once bears receive a food reward associated with humans they are likely to keep looking for more and associating people as a food source.   

The Game and Fish Department strongly urges people to do what they can to prevent wildlife conflicts and report all nuisance bear activity to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department immediately to prevent a bear from becoming food-conditioned. Be alert for bears and bear sign on your property or when recreating in the outdoors.