Wyoming Game and Fish put down a mother black bear and her two cubs on Sept. 3 near Reunion Flats in Teton Canyon after the bears broke into a hard sided camper in search of human food.
Teton Basin District Ranger Jay Pence said the bears had been getting into campsites all summer and the latest incident found the bears breaking into the camper eating dog food, bread, and Hershey bars he said.
When bears start breaking into hard side campers, said Pence, that’s when the Wyoming agency needs to take action. Pence, whose agency manages the land in and around Teton Canyon, assisted the Wyoming Game and Fish with capturing the bears. Wyoming manages the wildlife in the area.
“Breaking into a hard sided vehicle is rare occurrence for us,” said Wyoming Game and Fish Public Information Specialist Mark Gocke. “When (an animal) is acting that aggressively and that bold, that’s an elevated stage of habituation of human food and in our mind it is a safety concern for people.”
Gocke explained that while the goal would be to have these bears live out their lives in the wild, even relocating the bears would not serve them or people well because the animals were so conditioned to search out human food.
“It’s really tough,” said Gocke. “It’s one of the hardest aspects of our job and it’s not something we take lightly. It wrecks your day because a lot of times these are things that could have been prevented.” He added that it’s important to store food properly in the backcountry.
“It was the saddest thing,” said Pence of the bears. He added that it’s so important to remember to store foods properly while in the wildness to ensure that wild animals do not become accustomed to people food.