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Picnic-crashing Bear Euthanized in Montana, Officials Urge Public to Use Food Lockers

Bear locker

Bear locker

If Yogi bear weren’t a cartoon animal, he wouldn’t have lived past the first episode. Bears that actually steal from picnickers are euthanized, a grim reality which the cartoon show never mentioned.

So when a female black bear near the Russell Gates Fishing Access Site in Montana found a cooler left out in the open by some campers, it had such a good meal that it started seeking more.

Just as Yogi does, she later approached a group of campers eating at a picnic table and went straight for the bounty. In their fright, the campers abandoned the picnic table and fled in their vehicle.

They observed as the bear ate some sunflower seeds off the table and then investigated their tent through an open flap.

The campers notified Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), who said the cinnamon-colored bear had been spotted eating berries along the Blackfoot River a week earlier.

The park was closed and traps were set for the bear.

By Wednesday morning, she returned to the campground and was caught. FWP officials euthanized her and reopened the campground.

“As soon as we heard she was elevating to that level, we knew we had to get her,” Jonkel said to the Helena Independent Record. “I felt bad; it was a little female and she didn’t have to die but once she started entering tents we didn’t have a choice.”

The bear weighed 150 pounds and was estimated to be about 3 or 4 years old.

Jonkel urges people to use the bear-proof containers available at the campground. “We have all these containers for mountain bikers, motorcyclists and tent campers; food lockers where they can put their food,” Jonkel said. “I hope people will use those so we don’t have to put down any more bears.”

The bear-resistant coolers are located everywhere in the campground and there was one near the area where the bear originally found the unattended cooler.

Image from Paula Reedyk on the flickr Creative Commons

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