Someone told the authorities they saw a bear in the upper reaches of Deer Valley in late June, a report that came during a week when the authorities logged a series of other wildlife cases in Park City.
Bear sightings are rare in Park City, perhaps a couple each year, according to the Park City Police Department. The bear seen in Deer Valley would have been a black bear, the only bear species in Utah.
The Police Department received the report at 8:23 p.m. on June 23 after the person contacted the Summit County Sheriff's Office. The person who called the authorities indicated the animal was approximately 600 feet uphill from the Montage Deer Valley in Empire Pass. The terrain in that vicinity is within the boundaries of Deer Valley Resort.
Rick Ryan, a police captain, said the person did not provide details about the bear's direction. A police officer who responded did not see the bear, Ryan said.
The captain said the police do not doubt the person saw a bear. Police and wildlife officials sometimes say people who report seeing other animals like mountain lions or wolves frequently mistake them for domesticated animals like cats and dogs.
"Their shape is pretty distinct from any other animal . . . The way they run and move, I think, is pretty distinct for a bear," Ryan said.
Animals like moose, deer and elk are seen in Park City on a regular basis, and there is an occasional mountain lion sighting. But bears are hardly ever seen.
Chuck English, the director of mountain operations at Deer Valley, said he had not been briefed about the sighting by midday Monday. He said it is "pretty unusual" for a bear to be seen in Deer Valley.
In his 32 years at the resort, English said, he has seen one bear on Deer Valley land. That animal was running down a gated road in Empire Pass three or four years ago, he said. A Deer Valley trail crew saw a bear about 10 years ago at a maintenance shop in the vicinity of Silver Lake Village, he said.
"It's pretty rare, obviously," English said.
Past bear reports in Park City have included a 2010 case when someone who owns a house in Deer Crest saw one in an October surveillance photo of the yard. In 2006, meanwhile, a bear was seen off Woodland View Drive, a small street in upper Deer Valley. That animal was seen on a wooded hillside.
Bruce Johnson, a state Division of Wildlife Resources lieutenant whose region includes the Park City area, said bears at this time of year are searching for food as they prepare for their upcoming winter hibernation.
Johnson said dry summer weather coupled with low snowfall totals last winter has made it more difficult for bears to find berries, an important food source for them. In that scenario, he said, bears expand their search for food beyond their normal areas.
He said the number of bear reports in Summit County this summer has been typical. Johnson anticipates further sightings in Summit County, including in the Park City area, Kamas and the Uinta Mountains.