Friday, September 4, 2015

ID Fish and Game euthanizes bear believed to have bitten firefighter

Idaho Fish and Game personnel trapped and euthanized a male black bear in the McCall area Wednesday, Sept. 2 that is believed to have bitten a sleeping firefighter on Tuesday night.

The firefighter was taken to the hospital, treated for minor wounds and released, then he returned to work, according to Forest Service officials.

The bear was trapped within a half mile of the fire camp and matched the description of the one involved in the biting. Fish and Game will attempt a DNA test to see if it can confirm it was the same bear by taking saliva from the bear and matching it to saliva on the firefighter's small tent, commonly known as a bivvy sack, that he was sleeping in when the bite occurred. However, it's uncertain whether there will be enough DNA on bivvy sack to get a match.

Idaho Fish and Game had reports of a bear in the area raiding garages and causing property damage. Fish and Game personnel had set a trap prior to the bear biting the firefighter, but hadn't been able to catch it.

Bear complaints are common in late summer and fall as the animals try to fatten up for winter. People can reduce bear conflicts by removing attractants, such as garbage, pet foods and bird feeders.

After a bear has been reported as a nuisance, Fish and Game personnel first try to remove the attractant. If a bear repeatedly causes problems and must be trapped, or it shows any signs of aggression toward humans, it will be euthanized.

"We have responded to several calls of bears in town in the McCall area, and most, if not all, can be attributed to the availability of food," Fish and Game's Southwest Region supervisor Scott Reinecker said.

People are encouraged to keep the garbage and pet food secure inside garages and sheds, and to stop feeding birds if there are bears in their area. Campers and other outdoor recreationists should also keep coolers and other food storage containers safely away from bears, preferably inside a vehicle.

Bears are common in the McCall area and throughout the state, and Fish and Game wants to keep them in the wild and feeding naturally.

Homeowners, campers and hunters can help keep bears wild and avoid property damage by taking these precautions:

§ Keep pet food secured as you do your own, and not in a bowl outdoors. Bears like pet food as much as your dog or cat.

§ Avoid filling bird feeders until wintertime.

§ Keep garbage in a secure location and place it at the curb only on the morning of pick up.

§ When selecting a campsite, look for recent signs of bear activity. If you see them, look for an alternative campsite.

§ Keep your camp clean; cook and prepare food well away from your sleeping area.

§ Do not store food in your tent.

§ Hang your food away from your sleeping area in a bag at least 10 feet off the ground and at least four feet from the nearest trunk. Or use commercially available bear-resistant containers, and locate them away from your sleeping area.

§ Do not store personal hygiene products, such as toothpaste or deodorant, in your tent; secure these items with your food.

§ Do not bury or throw garbage into the nearby woods. Burn all combustible garbage thoroughly and secure the remainder with your food.

§ Hang harvested animals at least 10 feet off of the ground and at least four feet from the nearest tree trunk. A meat pole slung between two trees is a good option.