On Aug. 31, after consulting with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Idaho Fish and Game trapped and euthanized two, 1 ½ year old grizzly bears in the Squirrel area east of Ashton. The two bears, a male and a female, received many food rewards, consistently showed no fear of humans, and acted aggressively towards people. These bears were food-conditioned and extremely habituated to humans, leading to multiple dangerous interactions with people and presenting a clear and ongoing threat to public safety.
Since June, Fish and Game hazed the bears multiple times, patrolled neighborhoods, and spoke with landowners about securing attractants to reduce or eliminate future conflicts. Despite considerable efforts by the Department, the two bears continued to acquire food rewards including chicken feed, cat and dog food, and garbage. Additionally, they attempted to break into an occupied trailer, caused damage to residences, pushed on an occupied tent, were on multiple porches, showed aggression to people, and were twice sprayed with bear spray by the public.
Unfortunate situations such as these are a reminder that many places in Eastern Idaho are home to both grizzlies and black bears and it is the responsibility of residents and visitors to make sure all attractants are stored properly and away from bears. When in bear country, all residential garbage containers should be stored inside a garage or locked shed and pet food, animal feed, and bird seed should only be stored where it is inaccessible to bears.
Bears are extremely adaptable and can learn very quickly to associate people with food just as these bears did. The presence of unsecured food sources of human origin like residential garbage, bird seed, dog food, beehives, domestic poultry, or fruit trees have continued to be the main cause of human-bear conflicts in the Upper Snake Region. Food-conditioned bears rapidly lose their fear of humans, resulting in bears approaching people and ultimately putting the lives of both humans and bears at risk.