U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- There has been a spate of bear vs people conflicts in Idaho from July through September of 2021. Three of them happened near Island Park, which is in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). A sow with at least one cub mauled a hiker on July 10, 2021.
Although the bear that Whitney estimated between 350 and 400 pounds began to swing its claws and biting him, he lay in the fetal position and covered his head and neck. The bear’s cub stayed a short distance away from the attack.
“All I could hear is the growling and I honestly thought, ‘What a way to go, and this might have been it,'” Whitney said. “I said a quick little prayer hoping things would de-escalate, and next thing I knew, the bear took off.”
On July 31, a bike rider was very happy he was faster than the grizzly chasing him. This bear was also a sow. The Idaho Fish & Game believes the bear had cubs.
ISLAND PARK, Idaho — A mountain biker avoided injury after being chased by a grizzly bear near Island Park in northeastern Idaho Friday morning.
The U.S. Forest Service for Caribou-Targhee National Forest posted on Facebook and said a female grizzly bear was sighted in the Stamp Meadows Road area. The bear chased the biker but did not catch or hurt him.
Then, on 23 September, a sow grizzly, reportedly with cubs, in the area, was shot and killed when it attacked archery hunters near Island Park. The hunters deployed both bear spray and a pistol. The incident is still under investigation, but it appears the bear was shot at very close range. It is elk archery season in Island Park, Idaho.
On Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, Idaho Fish and Game received a report of a sow grizzly bear that charged two elk hunters in the Stamp Meadows area near Island Park. As the bear charged, one of the hunters deployed bear spray while the other discharged a firearm at close range, mortally wounding the bear. Neither hunter appeared to be injured during the encounter.
If the sow and cubs were the same in all three incidents, the sow and her cub(s) will not be a threat to people in the Island Park area any longer.
Black bears were contributing to the problem in other parts of the state. On September 9, 2021, a black bear sow with cubs was killed, illegally, near Priest Lake in the northern panhandle. The bear had been a problem bear for weeks. The Idaho Fish & Game had attempted to live-trap the bear but were unsuccessful. A few days earlier it had wounded one pet and killed another. Priest Lake has an abundance of both grizzly and black bears.
Initially, Fish and Game staff provided local residents with assistance and suggestions for bear awareness and securing trash and attractants to try and reduce potential for human and bear conflicts.
In late-Aug. the sow quarreled with two dogs at separate residences in the area as she was defending her young. The incidents resulted in the death of one dog and multiple stitches for the other.
From Sep. 1 to Sep. 8, Fish and Game staff attempted to trap the bears in the area. In situations like this, the hope is the bears can be trapped and relocated unharmed. The trapping attempts were unsuccessful, and reports of the bears in the area continued.
Between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on Sep. 8, rifle shots near the dumpsters in Hills Resort were heard by residents in the area.
On Sep. 9, Fish and Game staff located the dead sow. She had been shot several times and her body was left to waste. The cubs were not in the area and have not been seen since the time of the incident. If they are located, they will likely have to be put down as they will likely not survive the winter months on their own.
In Boise, on the Southwest part of Idaho, two bears were killed by Idaho Fish & Game on September 18 and 24. From idaho.gov:
Fish and Game officials attempted to chemically immobilize the bear. Before the immobilization drug could fully take effect, the bear fell out of the tree and ran downhill toward Hill Road. Officers from Fish and Game and the Boise Police Department dispatched the bear before it could move further into more densely populated residential areas.
This is the second incident involving a bear in Boise in the past week that has resulted in the bear being euthanized. On Sept. 18, Fish and Game officers euthanized a black bear in a south east Boise industrial park compound between South Federal Way and I-84. The black bear was a subadult male that had been captured and moved from a north-end Boise residential neighborhood 4 months earlier.
The September 9 incident at Priest Lake had to be on the mind of the local Fish and Game officials. When private citizens become frustrated at the inaction of government agencies, government agents may be incentivized to be more vigilant. Even dedicated animal lovers become irritated when their pets are killed in town, by animals encroaching on their territory.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30-year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.