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Yellowstone grizzly bear euthanized for 'predatory behaviors'

August 2, 2011 |  2:05 pm

Grizzly bear
An aggressive grizzly bear was euthanized Monday by Yellowstone National Park staff after it charged at a man sitting along the Storm Point Trail on the north edge of Yellowstone Lake last month.

The man threw his food-filled pack, distracting the bear, which rummaged through its contents while the man ran away. He reported the encounter to rangers, who knew it was the 4-year-old, 258-pound male bear that has been involved in 25 similar encounters over the last three years, though not all of them involving confrontations. They quickly decided this attack was the last straw and euthanized the animal.

“It’s hard to speculate what would have happened,” said park spokesman Dan Hottle, “but the pack might have saved his life.”

Although bear management repeatedly attempted to drive the bear out of populated areas by  making loud noises and shooting non-lethal shells, the bear had become conditioned to human foods and was hostile.

“It’s not that they’re hungry,” Hottle said. “It’s that they’re smart, and when they use humans as a source for food, they know it’s an easy place to come back to.”

Both grizzlies and black bears are omnivores and have plenty to eat in the park, but some cannot resist the salty and oily aromas wafting from campsites. Park officials say the bear was healthy and had 14.8% body fat, normal for this time of year.

“It was a big decision to eliminate a grizzly bear due to their endangered status,” Hottle said, but rangers must assess defensive behaviors versus those that are predatory.

The grizzly was euthanized via lethal injection and all parts will be used for research purposes. 

On average, one grizzly is euthanized every three years for aggressive behaviors such as routinely entering campsites, sniffing around tents or approaching vehicles. The sow that fatally mauled Torrance resident Brian Matayoshi last month was left alive because biologists believed she was exhibiting a defensive behavior to protect her cubs.

The euthanized grizzly "had predatory behaviors,” Hottle said, while “the sow was protecting her cubs and not looking for trouble.”

RELATED:

Grizzly bear kills hiker in Yellowstone National Park

In moments, a Yellowstone hike turns tragic

Grim outlook for grizzlies in Yellowstone region

-- Ashlie Rodriguez

Photo: A grizzly bear moving through the brush at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Yellowstone and surrounding areas are home to 600 to 1,000 grizzlies. Credit: James Peaco/ Associated Press

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