Idaho Grizzly Shot by Wildlife Official

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A 250 pound, 2 1/2-year-old male grizzly bear was shot and killed the evening of October 4 by wildlife officials, as it walked past residences near Nordman in northern Idaho.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game earlier had secured an agreement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take lethal action against the bear, which officials had determined posed a threat to human safety.

The bear had been trapped in a culvert trap August 11, when it was tranquilized, fitted with a radio collar, and relocated more than 25 air miles to the north near the Idaho-British Columbia border on August 12.

The bear returned to the area of capture by September 8.

The grizzly had received food rewards from human sources, had lost its fear of people, and was considered to be a threat to human safety to the extent that it could not be safely relocated.

"The bear became conditioned to expect food from humans," said Rob Soumas, a conservation officer for Idaho Fish and Game. "A photographer placed corn near his house so he could obtain photos of grizzly bears."

The bear found corn cribs near other houses that were put out to attract and feed deer. The bear also discovered and tore apart bird feeders to obtain sunflower seeds. The bear became accustomed to the food and lost his natural fear of humans.

This is a fatal combination for the bear, Soumas said.

"There's an old adage that a fed bear is a dead bear,' and unfortunately that was the case for this one," he said.

Fish and Game was notified of the situation in late July when some residents became concerned about the behavior of the bear, which was being seen regularly. Traps were set and the bear was caught and relocated.

When the grizzly returned to the area, the bear was trap shy and avoided capture. Though not aggressive toward humans, the bear began to scavenge on porches, decks and carports, and began entering chicken coops to eat chicken feed.

In one incident, the bear inadvertently isolated a resident from his home when the bear ambled through a carport. The man kept his car between himself and the bear and safely made it into his home. Following this and other incidents and discussions between Fish and Game and the Fish and Wildlife Service, officials decided October 1 to kill the bear. When it was seen near a residence on October 4, officers shot the bear with a high powered rifle.

The following morning, October 5, a second grizzly was captured in a culvert trap. This bear appears to be less habituated to humans, and is being collared and released in a remote location.

Fish and Game wildlife research biologist Wayne Wakkinen and grizzly bear education officer Brian Johnson expressed frustration with the situation.

"People need to be aware of the consequences of their actions," Johnson said. "Intentionally attracting an animal like a grizzly bear to your house by using food puts both humans and the bear at risk."

Wakkinen agreed.

"Wild animals do not need to be fed by people to survive, and feeding does nothing but lead to problems for wildlife," he said. "This is a classic example of the bad that can happen when people feed wildlife. People were placed at risk, and at least one- and perhaps two-grizzly bears will end up being removed from an already small population."