A small black bear cub seen wandering in the streets of a residential section of Hailey for several days last week was killed by an Idaho Department of Fish and Game officer.
“After receiving multiple reports of bear sightings around the east side of Hailey today, our … deputies spent 3 hours locating this cute little fellow,” the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office stated on its Facebook page on Wednesday, Oct. 9. “Fortunately, they were able to detain the baby bear near Buttercup Rd. before he could endanger any pets or children. Baby bears may be cute but they also can be dangerous.”
One Facebook commenter reported seeing the bear in her backyard at Fifth Avenue and Bullion Street.
Terry Thompson, spokesman for the Department of Fish and Game’s Magic Valley Region, said the sheriff’s deputies turned the cub over to a Fish and Game officer, who killed it. Thompson said he was not certain how this bear was killed, but officers generally use a gun to do that.
“That’s actually the quickest and most humane way to dispatch it,” he said.
Thompson said the fact that the cub had been seen for several days without a sow indicated that it had become separated from its mother. He said the cub, estimated to weigh less than 20 pounds, had no chance of surviving the winter alone. He said it would starve, be eaten by a predator or die of exposure because it wouldn’t know how to hibernate.
“Knowing all these factors, the truly hu-mane outcome was to euthanize it,” he said.
Thompson said no one knows how the cub got separated from its mother.
“It is not uncommon for a sow/cub to get separated, caused by any number of reasons, and in the case of the young cub in Hailey this week, it would be total conjecture about how that happened,” he said.
Under Idaho hunting rules, no female black bear accompanied by young may be taken.
A nonprofit facility in Garden City, near Boise, called Idaho Black Bear Rehab, is licensed by the state of Idaho to hold black bears. According to its website, it has taken bear cubs in from wildlife agencies in seven states, including Idaho, though the website indicates that cooperation from the Idaho department has been difficult to obtain. Facility President Sally Maughan said Fish and Game did not contact it about the cub in Hailey.
Maughan said Idaho Black Bear Rehab will come and get a cub, pay for a vet to check it and provide everything needed during rehab—food, medicine and even hibernation during winter if the state wildlife agency prefers a spring release.
“Why they didn’t contact one of us is beyond me and unthinkable,” Maughan said.
Thompson could not be reached again by press deadline Tuesday to answer that question.