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Aggressive Black Bear Put Down In Dinosaur National Monument


A black bear that began acting too comfortable with humans and their meals in Dinosaur National Monument, and which even tried to break into a ranger's residence, has been put down by park staff.

The bear was shot and killed in the monument's Gates of Lodore Campground on May 27, a park release said.

"The male bear, which first showed up in the campground late last summer, had demonstrated no fear of people and posed a threat to the safety of park visitors," said Chief Ranger Dan Johnson. "It took food from campsites and the Green River boat launch area even as park visitors tried to scare it away. It even approached and touched campers sleeping on the sandbar near the river."

Several attempts were made last summer and fall by Colorado wildlife crews to relocate the bear, but the bruin kept returning to the area, the chief ranger said.

"A few weeks ago, the same bear – identifiable by distinctive color markings – returned to the campground and tried to break into the ranger residence," Chief Johnson said.

On May 27, the bear returned and entered two campsites and stole food despite campers yelling at it.

"After a park ranger observed the bear showing no fear of people and remaining in the area, he shot and killed the bear," the chief ranger reported.

Park visitors are reminded to store food, garbage, camp coolers, and other items that can attract bears in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof storage boxes. This helps keep bears from becoming conditioned to human foods and helps keep park visitors and their property safe.

Although visitors to Dinosaur National Monument may not think of the park as “bear country,” frequent sightings confirm black bears do live in the monument. Hikers and rafters are encouraged to be alert for their presence and report bear sightings as soon as possible at a visitor center or ranger station.


For my backpacking trip in Dinosaur last year, I asked a lot of rangers and other visitor contact people (on phone and in person) about bears in the park. They split 50-50 on whether any precautions were necessary.

When in doubt, I use a bear canister and I did that here as well. But it sounds as if there's a serious training issue among the staff.

Thank you, George. There have been successful relocations but I wasn't aware that these bears could not be relocated outside of the park they were captured in. I agree that people perpetuate the problem by leaving food or garbage accessible and, unfortunately, the curious or hungry (nonaggressive) bears pay for that with their lives.

And I don't understand why the bear could not have been relocated farther away.

Answer: Never underestimate an animal you can teach to ride a bicycle... .

Almost never works. A bear released once in northern Kings Canyon in early fall traveled all the way to Lake Tahoe (several hundred miles) then returned to where it was originally trapped, well south of its release point. I don't keep up, but I don't know of an adult bear habituated to human food that's been successfully relocated.

It'sprobably further complicated by not being able to relocate outside the boundaries of the park or forest it's trapped in. I'd always advocated putting a habituated bear in an old car outside a McDonald's or something.

As others have said, the problem originates when people do not store their food properly or, in urban areas, leave garbage cans easily accessible when bears are around.


Really, what would you consider 'aggressive' about this black bear's behavior? If you truly think that black bears are aggressive by nature, then I believe it's your lack of knowledge that's showing.

I think 'normal' for a black bear is acting in any way that's NOT aggressive. The bear should not have been conditioned to associate people with easy food, but that doesn't make the bear not normal. Regardless, the bear was not aggressive. And I don't understand why the bear could not have been relocated farther away. Maybe it was a cost issue. Mostly it's an issue of people having irrational fears of black bears because they've been conditioned to believe that black bears are mean and ferocious by nature, which they aren't, just ask your kitty.

The headline is misleading and leading to the assumption that the black bear killed the victim. The article clarifies that it was unlikely that the bear killed the man.

I helped haze black bears in Shenandoah, and I can tell you that just gently touching a human is not normal behavior. It is also a very bad sign that the bear showed no fear when people yelled at it. A black bear that is behaving normally would run from people that are yelling at it. I once had a bear try and come into my residence through an open door. My cat doesn't like sharing "her home" and attacked the bear. My kitty won because black bears run when confronted. I always hate seeing an animal put down, but in this case it had to be done.

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