A female black bear weighing about 125 pounds and believed to be approximately four years old was euthanized yesterday in Grand Teton National Park. The decision was made by park officials after careful consideration and a concern for the public’s safety.
Recent activities exhibited by the bear showed it had no fear of humans and had approached humans. It had also had an encounter with a couple sleeping in a tent.
Last week the park received three reports of a black bear approaching humans. There was also an observation of the bear on the porch of a cabin in the Jenny Lake area. No injuries were reported with the incidents, but bear spray was deployed in one case. Park rangers and biologists determined it was the same black bear involved with each incident due to photos taken by bystanders or direct observation. There were no food-storage violations associated with these incidents.
At approximately 6:30am on Wednesday, June 21, a visitor camping at Jenny Lake Campground woke as he felt something on the other side of his tent. He exited the tent with bear spray to investigate what was going on. He saw a cinnamon-colored bear approaching the tent from about 20 feet away. The man yelled to his wife to exit the tent. He then deployed his bear spray as they both waved and spoke loudly to chase the bear away. The bear sniffed the tent, then stood on his hind legs looking at the couple. He then swatted the tent, damaging it. The couple continued to shout encouraging the bear to leave. Suddenly, as if something else scared the bear, the bear turned and ran away.
Other human-bear interactions took place last week with the same cinnamon-colored bear in the Jenny Lake area. The bear approached a visitor as he was sleeping in a chair in his campsite, walked onto the porch of a cabin in the area, and closely approached a member of the park’s wildlife brigade.
On Wednesday, June 21, park staff searched for the bear and implemented a strategy to trap or immobilize the bear. Efforts continued through Tuesday morning, June 27, when the bear was successfully trapped.
Due to the bear exhibiting no fear of humans, making contact with an occupied tent and repeated incidents, the bear was removed from the population. Black bears are not good candidates for zoos and other accredited facilities due to the plentiful nature of the species throughout the United States.