After a large sow and her cub were found pawing through at least four unsecured garbage cans in Warm Springs on Monday, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is warning Wood River Valley residents—once again—that leaving trash out can condition black bears to human food sources and lead to their deaths.

According to a Tuesday Fish and Game press release, Blaine County deputies and a Fish and Game conservation officer monitored the sow and cub in a Ketchum neighborhood early Monday morning. After eating from several bins, the bears wandered into the surrounding timber before sunrise, the department said.

In a Wednesday interview, Senior Conservation Officer Brandyn Hurd described the female bear as “massive” and “weighing about 400 pounds.” He said officers plan to go door-to-door on Bald Mountain Road and Irene Street in the next few days, refreshing residents on how to live responsibly with black bears.

“I’ve found that one-on-one interactions tend to be the most effective,” he said.  

 According to Fish and Game, the cub roaming Warm Springs has been adopting its mother’s negative behaviors after watching her rummage through trash.

“If garbage continues to be left out, and these bears are repeatedly rewarded with human-provided food, the department may find it necessary to euthanize both bears if they become a threat to public safety,” the department stated.

On Tuesday, Ketchum Mayor Neil Bradshaw stressed that every resident is responsible for storing their trash in a garage or locked shed prior to garbage pick-up day.

“These bears necessitate a change in our behavior,” he said in a statement. “We urge all Ketchum residents, especially those in the Warm Springs neighborhoods, to do their part by securing garbage overnight. It is our priority to keep our residents and visitors safe and our wildlife wild.”

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