Fish and Game Bear Birdhouse

A juvenile black bear out East Fork Road was euthanized by Fish and Game staff on Monday afternoon after the animal established a pattern of eating from residential garbage bins, bird feeders and beehives.

The decision to shoot the bear came after the agency received reports of the same animal getting into unsecured residential garbage and causing “thousands of dollars” worth of damage to beehives in the East Fork area.

While the hives were subsequently safe-guarded with an electric fence, the bear was undeterred by the fence, likely due to “food-conditioning from multiple human sources,” according to Fish and Game.

“Conservation officers … observed residential garbage containers stored outside of homes and often left at curbside the day prior to pick-up, and bird feeders hanging around homes,” the Idaho Department of Fish and Game stated in a Monday news release.

The bear may have been drawn to garbage, birdseed and beehives due to a short supply of natural food—grasses, roots and berries—amid ongoing drought conditions, the agency said.

According to Senior Conservation Officer Brandyn Hurd, East Fork residents were urged to store their garbage containers in a secure area such as a garage and take down bird feeders after initial reports of the offending bear.

That advice went unheeded by several neighbors.

“The presence of unsecured food sources of human origin such as residential garbage, bird seed, dog food, beehives, domestic poultry, or fruit trees have long been documented as sources of human-bear conflicts,” the agency stated. “Food-conditioned bears can rapidly lose their fear of humans, resulting in bears approaching people. The outcome is that a once wild bear has now become a threat to human safety … [A] food-conditioned bear may get aggressive when they are not fed.”

According to Fish and Game, food-conditioned bears cannot be relocated because they may quickly return to the same location in which they were trapped.

“And, the act of trapping and anesthetizing bears can put both the Fish and Game crew, as well as the bear, at risk,” the agency stated.

Email the writer: ejones@mtexpress.com

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