There’s a safety concern with the Scouts that were there. This bear repeatedly returned to the same location. —Brad Hunt, DWR hardware ranch wildlife management area manager
KAMAS, Summit County — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources shot and killed a bear Wednesday near the Hinckley Scout Ranch off the Mirror Lake Highway.
It’s the second time in just a few weeks that a bear has been killed in the area.
DWR officials received word of the bear late Tuesday in an area known as the East Fork of the Bear.
“Our guys responded with hounds, and our guys were able to tree the bear at 1 o’clock in the morning,” said Brad Hunt, DWR's hardware ranch wildlife management area manager. “Officers were authorized to destroy the bear Wednesday, and so that’s what they did.”
Officers said the bear was getting aggressive and would enter campsites and other places to go through garbage looking for food.
"It's an easy food supply for bears when they come into garbage cans. They can get to food very easily,” explained Phil Douglass, also with the DWR. “Utah is bear country.”
Hunt said there are a fair amount of bears in the mountain range as a whole, and having bears and people interacting closely is a major concern.
“There’s a safety concern with the Scouts that were there,” Hunt said. “This bear repeatedly returned to the same location.”
It's in the same area where a Boy Scout leader killed a bear July 10. A young black bear was seen on top of a picnic table eating leftovers. A Scout leader at the camp tried to shoo the bear away, but it wouldn’t move. He then shot the bear three times, killing it.
The decision was made to shoot the animal out of concern for the safety of the 500 Scouts in the area. Now, officers say, the Boy Scout leader may have killed the wrong bear.
“Our officers that responded felt that this bear they treed early July 31 in the morning is the same one we were originally responding to in the month of July,” Hunt said.
The DWR is still reviewing that case for possible charges.
It was the third bear seen in the area in just a few weeks. On the morning of July 6, a bear surprised a sleeping camper.
Morey Day, senior district executive with the Great Salt Lake Council of the Boy Scouts of America, said he was awakened by something sharp against his arm around 4:40 a.m. He said he felt a large snout. He smacked it and started yelling at the bear to go away.
The bear left a few minutes later, he said, and no one was hurt. DWR officials found bear tracks in the ground around the tent.
Bears typically go out of their way to avoid people, Hunt said.
“They have a healthy fear (and) respect for people, so they will avoid them unless they are lured in,” he said.
DWR officials say people need to be "bear aware." That is why campers are advised to keep their campsites clean by picking up garbage and putting food away. Hunt said people should never have food in their tent.
“If something smells good to you, it probably smells good to (bears),” Hunt said.
Contributing: Andrew Adams and Viviane Vo-Duc