SHERIDAN — A black bear was euthanized Sunday morning by wildlife managers with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department after it received repeated human-provided food rewards in the Sibley Lake Campground in the Bighorn National Forest.
The 4- to 5-year-old male bear visited the campground Friday evening and was able to access food left out by campers. The bear fed on hot dogs and other food from a cooler that had been left outside overnight at one camp and creamer, apples and bread that had been left out at another campsite. A trap was set for the bear Saturday, and it entered the trap after returning to the campground that night.
“I made a trip through Sibley Lake Campground Saturday evening and it was completely full,” Dayton district game warden Dustin Shorma said. “Bears usually would avoid an area like that with lots of human commotion. However, when it came through Friday night, it was able to get food left out by campers, which encouraged it to return again Saturday night.”
Shorma visited with several campers about putting their food, barbecue grills and other attractants away but noticed more than one campsite had food and coolers left outside with no one in the vicinity. He said the campground host had also visited with campers about properly storing food.
It is likely this is the same bear that visited the campground and attempted to access trash bins and coolers the weekend of July 28.
It is also likely this was the same bear that entered Prune Creek Campground the nights of Aug. 1 and 2 and was able to access cookies and sausages left available by campers.
“Euthanizing a bear is the last resort and no one likes to do it,” Shorma said. “It is always unpleasant to kill a healthy animal. But after a bear has repeatedly received food made available by humans, that bear’s behavior changes. It will continue to seek out areas with humans, knowing that food can be found there. This is obviously a dangerous situation. Once that happens, our options for managing that bear are few.”
To prevent attracting a bear to your camp area and creating an unsafe situation for yourself and other campers, WGFD emphasizes securing all garbage, barbecue grills, food items, flavored beverages, pet food and other attractants in a vehicle or hard-sided camper before going to sleep at night and any time the campsite is unoccupied throughout the day.
Any incident involving a bear should be reported as soon as possible to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department Sheridan regional office at (307) 672-7418.