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Bear activity high; incidents in both Lander and Dubois

Aug 25, 2015 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

An "unusual amount" of bear activity has been reported in and around developed areas in Fremont County and throughout the state this year, according to Game and Fish officials.

Locally, there was a sighting Sunday evening of a grizzly bear that has been spotted several times within the Dubois town limits. This time, the animal was going through trash in the 200 block of South Third Street.

Previous reports earlier in the month indicated the grizzly was on a porch on Bald Mountain Road northwest of Dubois and in a yard on Mickel Drive in town.

"Given the opportunity, we'd sure like to get him caught before he maybe becomes dangerous to somebody," said Brian DeBolt, large carnivore conflict coordinator for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. "We'll have to just find the opportunity where we think he's likely to return and then try some sort of capture effort."

In previous reports, he guessed the bear weighed 200-300 pounds.

Lander bear

On Monday evening, a black bear was seen "running down the street" in the 400 block of Cascade Street in Lander. DeBolt said that animal also was getting into trash.

"Their stomachs often drive their movements," he said. "When they get enough a good enough food reward they start losing that natural inhibition to be around people."

Officials "hazed" the animal out of town, DeBolt said, and it fled to the south up the Middle Fork of the Popo Agie River.

He encouraged residents to be careful about leaving trash unsecured now that bears have been spotted in town.

"I know it's asking a lot," he said, "(but) it would be nice if people were aware of the fact that there's a bear around."

DeBolt suggested that anyone without a bear-proof garbage can could store trash inside of buildings like sheds or garages. Items such as dog food, horse grain and bird seed should be kept inside or out of reach of bears.

Natural food

Neither animal spotted this week demonstrated any interest in being near humans, DeBolt said.

"For the most part, besides being in a developed area, they've being pretty (reclusive) and wary of people," he said. "They haven't shown any unusual signs of aggression or bold behavior."

He isn't sure what is causing the animals to enter the more populated areas of the county. Based on his own observations, he said there seems to be plenty of natural food for the animals locally.

"I've seen lots of berries in some places ... I've seen biscuit root in some places, I've seen cow parsnip in some places - all these natural foods to bears seem relatively abundant in some places," he said. "But of course (my) anecdotal observation of bear foods may be different from what a bear actually views. ... If there are so many bears in and around developed areas maybe it's not so good."

If anyone sees a bear in town, DeBolt said the animal should be left alone. If someone encounters a bear at home, the person should seek shelter in a structure or vehicle.

Last week, DeBolt said his agency knows of at least one black bear in Atlantic City and at least one in the Sinks Canyon State Park area. Activity around the North Fork area also has been reported. DeBolt warned residents to be vigilant, especially at dusk and dawn when bears are most active.Anyone who observes unusual bear activity should contact the Lander office of the Game and Fish Department at 332-2688.

-- Staff writer Kelli Ameling contributed to this report

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