Oregon wildlife officials shot and killed a young black bear that was frequently sighted near a popular boat launch on one of the state’s northwestern lakes after humans kept leaving food for him.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced last week that the bear ― likely 2 or 3 years old, according to The Statesman Journal ― was “lethally removed” from the area after state officials determined the wild animal had become habituated to Scoggins Valley Park near Henry Hagg Lake.
The decision to euthanize the bear came after Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the Oregon Department of Fish received reports of bear sightings in that area near the launch. Law enforcement officials also found photos on social media of people posing for “selfie” photographs with the bear.
State officials received a call Thursday that the bear had been spotted eating food left by humans, including trail mix and sunflower seeds, by the highway.
They set out to trap and transport the animal, but realized it was “way too habituated” to relocate because the bear did not retreat as they approached, wildlife biologist Kurt Licence told the Statesman Journal.
Under Oregon law, it’s illegal to “scatter food, garbage or any other attractant so as to knowingly constitute a lure, enticement or attractant for potentially habituated wildlife,” the state’s wildlife department noted in its statement.
Not only can feeding bears make them sick, it reduces the chances of wildlife officials being able to relocate them because they are more likely to have dangerous encounters with humans in the future, according to officials.
“This is a classic example of why we implore members of the public not to feed bears,” Licence said in a statement last week. “While the individuals who put food out for this bear may have had good intentions, bears should never, ever be fed.”
Some community members expressed outrage at state officials for choosing to euthanize the bear. Others blamed humans for the bear’s demise.
“They got the bear killed and that’s not OK,” Jennifer Harrison, who has visited Hagg Lake with her family, told local CBS affiliate KOIN. “They tried to do something they thought was a good thing, but it ended up getting the bear killed so please do not feed the bears.”
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