ALPINE — State wildlife hunters shot and killed a black bear today after the animal mauled an 11-year-old boy to death Sunday night in American Fork Canyon, 30 miles southeast of Salt Lake City.

The trackers from the Utah Division of Wildlife Services, aided by 26 search hounds, shot the black bear at about 11:40 a.m. in American Fork Canyon.

Police officials have not publicly identified the boy, who is from Utah County, the Deseret Morning News has learned.

The boy, his mother, stepfather and a 6-year-old brother were sleeping in a large, multi-room tent about a mile north of Camp Timpooneke in a primitive, undeveloped camping area.

The boy's stepfather heard a scream at around 11 p.m. on Sunday. He initially thought the boy had been abducted by a kidnapper when he found the boy and his sleeping bag were gone.

Officials believe the bear brushed another tent before dawn the same day, about 18 hours before the rare attack. Trackers followed the bear for several hours on Sunday, but never found it, said Scott Root, conservation outreach manager for the central region of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

Those campers left and the family of the 11-year-old boy, without knowledge of the earlier incident, set up camp in the same location, Root said.

The boy's body was found about 400 yards away from the tent, Harris said.

Several officials said black bear attacks are rare. They didn't know of any other fatalities.

"This is the first black bear fatality in anyone's memory," said Jim Karpowitz, DWR's big-game coordinator.

There have been more than a dozen reports of black-bear sightings in Utah's Central Region in the past three weeks.

DWR wildlife specialist Steve Gray said the bears are coming out of hibernation and many of the sightings have been of newly independent younger bears foraging for easy food after separating from their mothers for the first time.

A black bear took down a full-grown deer two weeks ago in Woodland Hills in southern Utah County. The attack was witnessed by Delila Ann Hook because the attack happened in her backyard.

Hook and two granddaughters were amused by the bear rummaging through their trash, but the next day the bear attacked the deer.

Hook had never seen a bear before, though her backyard is frequented by deer.

Contributing: Associated Press

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