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More bear sightings; dogs chase one up tree

Sep 2, 2015 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

A black bear continued to make appearances this week in the Lander area after being spotted several times throughout the past month.

Most recently, a resident called police at about 12:45 a.m. Tuesday to report that his trash can had been knocked over on Wildwood Trail south of Lander.

The reporting party said he saw the outline of a bear and heard a bear growling at him when he went to check on the garbage.

Not aggressive

Brian DeBolt, large carnivore conflict coordinator for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, said the bear didn't show any signs of aggression, despite the growl described.

"It's hard to say what type of noise someone interprets as a growl," he said Wednesday. "(Bears) are relatively vocal."

He confirmed that the bear had gotten into the trash, which was unsecured.

"He's really keyed into that garbage," DeBolt said. "We're asking folks to try to keep things cleaned up the best they can."

The animal was getting into trash Aug. 24 when it first was seen in the 400 block of Cascade Street in Lander. The black bear was "hazed" out of town at that time, but it returned at about 11 p.m. Aug. 26, this time appearing on a porch in the 1300 block of City Park Drive.

Trash storage

DeBolt said it had gotten access to garbage in Lander City Park as well. DeBolt suggested that anyone without a bear-proof garbage 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.

He encouraged residents to be vigilant, especially at dusk, dawn and overnight when bears are most active.

"Be cautious," he said. "There's a tremendous amount of bear activity in developed areas throughout the whole state."

Traps have been set in the area, but DeBolt said the animal hadn't been captured as of Wednesday morning.

"We're just kind of relying on reports at this point to let us know where he's been," he said. "The public's been real good letting us know (about sightings). We appreciate all the help they've been giving us. We'll try to get it run down."

Anyone who observes unusual bear activity should contact the Lander office of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department at 332-2688.

Other sightings

At about 1 a.m. Saturday, someone saw the bear under a car port on Mortimore Lane. By 4:10 a.m. Saturday the animal was spotted walking toward Second Street in town.

"He's still kind of kicking around," DeBolt said. "It's just unfortunate, (and) it's potentially dangerous. ... Any time a bear becomes comfortable around developed areas like that, it's a cause for concern."

DeBolt thinks there is an "excellent chance" the bear could have been captured Aug. 26 if a trap that had been set in Lander's City Park hadn't been removed that day. He said Game and Fish officials decided to take down the trap, because its location had been publicized by a local news organization.

"We pulled it out of there because frankly we didn't want a bunch of people trying to maybe look at the trap or observe the bear and disturb the trap operation," he said. "That could be a real potentially unsafe situation, so we didn't even trap there. But if we would've there's a good chance we would've had him captured and been able to resolve this situation a lot quicker. Now here we are dealing with it again."

Bear up a tree

Another black bear was captured Aug. 26 after being treed by several dogs at a home north of Riverton near Campbell's Corner.

The initial call came in at about 7 a.m. Wednesday from a resident who was afraid the bear would spook his horses.

DeBolt said the bear didn't pose a threat to the livestock.

"He was just running through that farmland ... following the river," he said. "We've had bears move through there over the years, (so) it wasn't totally out of the ordinary."

Since the bear was stuck in a tree, however, he decided to tranquilize it and relocate it to Togwotee Pass.

"He didn't do anything wrong --he just kind of ended up at the wrong place at the wrong time," DeBolt said. "He wasn't creating any conflict."

The 3-year-old, sub-adult male weighed about 100 pounds and was in moderate health. DeBolt said the animal did not suffer any injuries when it fell out of the tree after being darted. He had not come into contact with the bear in the past.

DeBolt commended the homeowner and the Fremont County Sheriff's Office for cooperating with the effort to remove the ear.

"We appreciate their efforts to get him safely captured," DeBolt said.

Dubois quiet

On Wednesday, he noted that a grizzly bear that had been seen several times last month in the town of Dubois has not been spotted for more than a week.

"He's pretty much moved on," DeBolt said. "If he shows back up and starts wandering through town again we'll sure try to get him."

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