Idaho Fish and Game removed a third bear (two grizzlies, one black bear) from the wild in Eastern Idaho this summer because the bears were attracted to food left out by people. In early September, a young grizzly bear was trapped and later transferred to a Texas wildlife sanctuary, where it will remain.
The grizzly bear population and grizzly range has increased in Southeast Idaho over the last 20 years, but despite the increase, conflicts in recent years have been relatively low. However, Fish and Game has recently had to respond to an increase in bear conflicts, most of which involved homeowners and campers leaving food and other attractants unsecured, such garbage, bird feed and more.
Unlike the first two bears that were lethally removed this summer in Eastern Idaho, the most recent bear was relocated on Sept. 4 to the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Texas.
It is difficult to find a facility that is suitable, and willing, to take a grizzly bear, and most of the time it’s not an option, particularly with older bears. This bear was a yearling that had been seen in the Flat Rock and Coffee Pots campgrounds and near Mack’s Inn.
Generally, grizzly bears stay with their family unit for two years. Fish and Game biologists were not sure why the bear was on its own, but they knew it was seeking easy meals and finding garbage and other sources of food inadvertently provided by people.
The bear was dependent on human food and had also lost its fear of humans. It had already been relocated to a wild area with substantial natural food available, but a bear that finds human food almost always chooses that calorie-rich food over natural food. The only options for this bear were euthanasia, or a wildlife sanctuary.
Luckily for the young grizzly, Fish and Game personnel were able to find a facility that had room for it. However, bears are meant to be wild, and the next bear might not be as lucky. It is the responsibility of all people who live and recreate in bear country to properly store garbage and secure anything that might attract bears.