Ever since a black bear killed a child in a campground in 2007, bears have really taken the brunt in Utah. This story is about the latest-

Garfield County cabin owner kills large male bear. Wildlife » A spate of such killings this summer has officials scratching their heads. By Tom Wharton. The Salt Lake Tribune.

Have Utahans been permanently traumatized?

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

28 Responses to Utahans killing bears at record rate

  1. avatar Mike says:

    Some would say they have been permanently traumatized for a long time due to other obvious reasons.

  2. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    hummm the story shows exactly how the bears have learned they can have their way with human garbage . . terrified people are not a threat to bears from a bear’s point of view. Bears do not know about guns but they do know about body language and a terrified human is not a reason to run off but to just keep on eating. Bears learn as cubs that other animals that are afraid of them will not hurt them. Then, once they are dead, the bear has no way to communicate to other bears that terrified humans are still dangerous. This is a terrible “catch 22” situation where the bears lose.

  3. avatar Save bears says:

    Until Utah takes bears serious and starts educating the public, I fear we will continue to see the shoot first mentality, I have hunted deer in Utah and their state game dept is pretty amazing…to say the least…right now, it seems to be a no win for bears in that state, and I fear if wolves make it down there it will be more of the same…

  4. In 2007, the same year that the boy was killed by a bear, there were 58 murders in Utah, according to government statistics. Between 1960 and 2007, there were 2128 murders in Utah. During the same period, only 1 person was killed by a bear in Utah.

    References:
    http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/utcrime.htm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fatal_bear_attacks_in_North_America_by_decade

  5. avatar JW says:

    something called bear spray was invented a while ago and the subject of many of these posts. they should be advocated to be used in bear situations as well. If this bear was a repeat visitor to the cabin it should’ve gotten a good douse of pepper….

  6. avatar Barb says:

    Seems the one incident provides the “great excuse” to kill bears — for whatever reason, anger, hatred, fear, or trophy.

  7. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    I am getting really tired of the attitude I encounter more and more often that people think if they see a bear, wolf, cougar or coyote they better shoot it in case it does something bad. I suppose when I go out in the woods today and see some bear hunters I better just shoot them because last year a bear hunter shot a woman hiker by accident. . . I better shoot them in case they do something bad huh?

  8. avatar Save bears says:

    Barb, as these incidents are not happening during any hunting season, you should probably drop the “Trophy” designation, these are not hunters, they are opportunistic people using the excuse of fear to kill these bears..

    Linda, I think you might spend a bit of time in a place you would not be happy with, if you were to do that…preemptive action against humans is not kosher, unfortunately far to often preemptive action against wildlife is…

  9. avatar April Clauson says:

    Since the man in this article left food in his pick up and garbage out where the bear could get it, he should be fined for both and fined for killing the bear. The campers that shot the bears should also have been fined. If people choose to live or camp where wild life lives, they need to learn and adhere to the rules or not live or camp there. Our wild life services need to start stepping up defending our wild life, not the dumb ass’s that kill them!

  10. avatar Save bears says:

    April,

    In reality, there is no law in Utah preventing this from happening, so none of them can be fined, you can’t fine people if there is no law in place that prevents them from doing it, which is why I stated, Utah needs to get on the ball, change management practices and start an public education program…and when it comes down to it, black bears come under state management hence Utah takes the lead, not the Feds on this type of situation..

  11. avatar Save bears says:

    Just to add, about the only thing they can charge, is taking a game animal out of season, which is why there is reference to the Prosecutor in this article, if they stay true to form, there will be no charges filed..Utah is so far behind when it comes to managing wild animals it is not funny any longer, it is tragic..

  12. avatar April Clauson says:

    That is very sad Save bears, Utah needs to get with the times in regards to wild life. But I guess they are too busy harboring men that are married to 5 woman and have 50 kids! that is ok, but not saving their wild life is not….sad….

  13. avatar Save bears says:

    April,

    That is a very small part of the population, and most of those types don’t live in Utah, they are dispersed around the country now a days…I agree, there is a problem in Utah about wildlife, but to make accusations of that nature, is pure bunk and No, I am not a Mormon…

  14. avatar otto says:

    Yosemite National Park records more bear-human contacts than any other place in North America. After decades of experience and data collection the PArk Service has found best strategy for dealing with black bears is proper food storage and a loud yell to scare them away. No pepper spray, much less a gun, needed. Just common sense.

    The Park Service estimates that Yosemite is home to 300 – 500 bears. Every summer as hordes of visitors descend on the park the bears have a picnics – everything from swiping an unattended basket to tearing the doors off of cars. Through the end of July this summer the Park service has recorded 224 bear “incidents”. http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/bearfacts.htm

    Despite these frequent encounters, hundreds every summer for decades, no bear has ever killed a human. Bear caused injuries can be counted on one hand. In fact more bears are killed by cars than bears injuring people. http://tinyurl.com/mcm4hx

    As Doug in Alaska and Linda correctly point out other humans, specifically humans with guns, are far more dangerous than bears.

  15. avatar Ryan says:

    http://wildlife.utah.gov/news/09-07/bears_killed.php

    Here is another article on it as well. It happens, people get scared of bears, espicially in close vicinity to their houses, families, and stock. That being said and having spent alot of time in bear country and around many idiots in bear country toting guns (by idiots, avg AK tourists etc) I would be willing to bet 99% of them do not go into the woods looking for an excuse to kill one.

    BTW Barb, the state always confinscates bears killed in defense of life, property, etc unless they are killed in season with a tag.

  16. avatar mikepost says:

    I have an acquaintence who was walking a trail 2 years ago and did not even see a bear until it pushed out of the brush, smacked him in the face once, and then kept on going. Not an attack per se, but now he only has one eye and some horrible scars. No food involved, just a hiker. The bear (a black, not a brown) was not pursued by authorities nor did it cause any further problems. Now, if he had the opportunity to spray or shoot that bear would he have been justified? Or is an eye an acceptable price to pay for being in the wilderness with bears? I ask this to all here who seem to have such a simple back & white view of this issue.

  17. avatar dave smith says:

    Ryan–gun toting idiots. How about Anchorage Daily News outdoors editor Craig Medred, and Montana hunting guide Joe Heimer. Both were armed, Medred with a .454 Casull pistol, Heimer with a 7mm Mag. rifle. Both spotted grizzlies about 100 feet away. Both were aware of the bears before the bears charged. Medred waited until the bear was two (2) feet away before he raised his pistol to fire. He got nailed. He claimed he thought the bear would “bluff charge.” Looking back, he said there was nothing he would have done differently. Bears are just “unpredictable.” I’ve always wondered why a guy would assume an “unpredictable” bear was gonna “bluff charge.” Medred loves bashing idiotic tourists who “stumble” through the woods.

    Joe Heimer claimed he “held fire” until the charging bear was two (2) inches from the muzzle of his barrel, then shot an missed. He got nailed, and so did his client.

    Scott McMillion’s book Mark of the Grizzly made Heimer look like a modern day mountain man, and the Montana Outfitters Association named him guide of the year. Perhaps a dunce cap would have been more appropriate. “Held fire,” or panicked and fired a wild shot at the last second?

  18. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    mikepost your question is indicative of the whole question. From the bear’s point of view the hiker was just in the wrong spot at the wrong time. The bear must have been surprised and just whacked his paw at a thing he didn’t know what it was. No premeditation, no stalking, no thought really at all. Had your friend had pepper spray or a gun chances are he wouldn’t have been able to use them. . so the question is really should we eliminate all bears from where people hike. I have the same question about people with guns. Last year a 14 year old bear hunter killed a woman hiking on an established trail because he thought she was a black bear at first glance. Later in the same year an elk hunter shot a bear grass picker who he decided was in the way of his hunt. He knew the person was human he was just mad at him. What kind of a price do some individuals pay to allow people to roam the woods with guns, legally or illegally?

  19. avatar JB says:

    A few years back a man died near where I live when he tripped crossing the street and hit his head on the curb.

    I say, “the evil curbs must go”! 😉

    Seriously, it fascinates me that people want “something done” about wolves, bears, sharks, etc., while ignoring the things that are much more likely to kill you (e.g. smoking, over eating, lack of exercise, automobile accidents).

  20. avatar Save bears says:

    JB,

    People are always want to do away with those thing they fear, they don’t fear cars, curbs or smoking, but unfortunately many do fear Bears, Wolves and Wilderness..thanks to the highly “accurate” wildlife shows and news media now a days!

  21. avatar IzabelaM says:

    Soon Utahns will have buffalo to kill.
    There is a new buffalo herd in Book Cliffs.
    People are already talking on Ksl about hunting permits.
    KSL..ah..what a joke. Few weeks ago, when the first bear was killed, they posted picture of grizzyly and talked about dangerous black bears…

    Ps. KSL is radio, TV station in Salt Lake City.

  22. avatar dave smith says:

    Shootin Utes–The same techniques that work for scaring away black bears in Yosemite would be even more effective in Utah since there don’t seem to be nearly as many bears that are food conditioned and habituated. If mild “aggression” (clap your hands, yell, shout, lunge forward) didn’t drive away the bruin, bear spray would. And it’s non-lethal. There’s no justification for trigger happy Utes shooting bears. The state fish and game dept. needs to do a better job of educating people.

  23. avatar IzabelaM says:

    Dave Smith wrote: “There’s no justification for trigger happy Utes shooting bears. The state fish and game dept. needs to do a better job of educating people.”

    Yes, education in Utah is: SHOOT THEM!

    Utah and Idaho (sorry, Udaho)..:) – no difference. I hope wolves never make to Utah (or be visible). They would be killed in a minute.

  24. avatar Truckee Res says:

    we have stupid people in Truckee/Lake Tahoe that actually leave food to entice bears so they can take pictures, then get upset when the bears decide to take up residence in their houses. Unfortunately the owners get to keep the hides of nuisance bears. The number of ‘incidents’ is down because not as many people are visiting. We have a lot of education but people ignore it. I’ve even seen people chasing after scared bears so they can get a picture of them with their kids.

    You should comment on the MOU that allows Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana to share hunting of surplus grizzlies.

  25. avatar mikepost says:

    There is one premise that during the thousands of years that browns and blacks lived in the same ranges that blacks were evolutionarily hardwired to stay in the forested high country where they could reasonably avoid predation by browns. With the removal of the brown bear from much of the country for over 100 years, some speculate that black bear habitat use is changing as this hardwiring has no continued evolutionary benefit or reinforcement. End result, black bears are going to places they did not used to go to. Los Angeles of all places now has a bear story almost every week; garbage raids, swiming in spas, up a tree by a school yard, etc. Interesting thought…

  26. avatar JB says:

    “I hope wolves never make to Utah (or be visible). They would be killed in a minute.”

    Actually, many people believe that wolves have existed in Utah for over a decade now.

  27. avatar Ryan says:

    Dave,
    While I see your point, most charges are bluff charges and those people you mentioned had some knowledge of bears, rolled the dice and lost. Me personally, the bullets would start flying around 10ft.

  28. avatar dave smith says:

    Ryan–bluff charge? Ain’t no such thing as a bluff charge. There are charges that end in contact, and charges that don’t end in contact. It’s impossible to prove that, before charging, bears make up their mind to bluff charge. The “reasoning” behind bluff charges is that we know bears make bluff charges because they sometimes stop short of making contact, and they stop short of making contact because they were bluffing.

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