Curiosity killed the bear.

A 250-pound, inquisitive bruin that had been causing a problem at Fish Lake summer homes was killed by a hunter who was issued a depredation permit.The black bear was shot by Rick Farnsworth of Richfield, who holds a regular 1998 bear hunting permit. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officer Leo Hovinga authorized the permit.

DWR officers concluded that once a bear becomes familiar with human food, it will continue to return to an area. That's what happened in this case, and the animal became a threat to people.

Farnsworth praised DWR officers for working with sportsmen to take care of the problem. "This turned out to be a memorable experience and helped them eliminate any further problem with this bear," he said. The animal was estimated to be 3 or 4 years old.

The incident brought a warning and appeal from DWR officials, who noted that responsible handling of food and garbage reduces danger to people and may save a bear's life. Bears look for food and discover it in people's campsites or garbage every year in Utah, it was noted.

Division biologist Jeff Grandison said when bears learn of a place to go for an easy meal, they often return for more. He said bears that become nuisances or threatening must then be killed.

"We have no place to move bears, and zoos won't take them," he said.

When the DWR receives a report about a bear in a campground or summer residence area, it elevates the chance that the animal will need to be destroyed.

Bear-proof garbage lids, food storage containers and educational signs have been installed in some areas through a cooperative program of the DWR and national forest personnel. While these help to keep bears away from sites used by people, much responsibility still lies with campers and users of the national forests.

"Storing food and garbage away from animals should always be practiced outdoors," urged biologist Priscilla Summers.

It has not been necessary to destroy bears in campground and summer home locations where bear-proof dumpsters and food storage containers have been used and people have adhered to warnings and suggestions.