Black bear is spotted in Snyderville
Hounds chased a 2-year-old black bear into the woods near Pinebrook Monday after several people spotted the creature running between the Tanger Outlet Center and Ecker Hill Middle School.
"I went around a corner in the complex where I live and as I rounded the curve this little round bundle ran in front of me," said Snyderville Basin resident Kiki Roesch, who lives in the Pine Creek condominiums near Kilby Road. "I was just surprised because I knew that bears were in the Uintas, but I had never heard of any sightings around Park City."
She became familiar with black bears living for 18 years near Missoula, Mont.
"He was a little brown bear with a black tail," Roesch said. "He was young, about two or three years old. He wasn’t full grown."
She spotted the bear the evening of May 21 after someone reported seeing a black bear near the outlet mall around 7 a.m. that day.
"When I saw him, he was bounding toward the playing field and by the time I realized it was a photo opportunity he was like a little fuzz-ball blip on my digital camera," lamented Roesch.
The bear was spotted behind one of the factory stores, said Dave Swenson, a conservation officer with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
"The bear had come back to the Pinebrook area that evening," he said, adding that since dogs chased the creature into the mountains Monday he hasn’t heard any reports of the bear returning to the neighborhood.
According to Roesch, black bears injure more people than grizzly bears in Montana.
"We were wondering why this helicopter was circling overhead and there were police everywhere. They had dogs out, they had tranquilizer guns, they had a trap but they didn’t find him," Roesch said.
Relocating the animal could save its life because young black bears often become scavengers in subdivisions, she added.
"Black bears should be observed with the same caution as moose," Roesch said. "You don’t know if they’re going to run away from you or if they’re going to run toward you."
People who encroach on wildlife habitat don’t respect bears enough to keep distance while viewing them, she claimed.
"People are stupid, and just like we’ve had accidents with moose we would have accidents with bears," she warned. "The bear is going to end up being the victim of somebody’s stupidity."
But Swenson, who didn’t see the bear on Monday, insists wildlife officers don’t intend to kill the animal.
"Hopefully it got kind of a bad taste of life around people," Swenson said. "My hope is that this bear was just passing through and after being chased back to the hills by the hounds has learned a lesson."
Adult black bears can grow to weigh 300 pounds, but the bear spotted last week in Snyderville likely weighed only about 125, Swenson said.
"They tend to move around a lot and these are the ones that sometimes wander through populated areas," he said, adding that black bears rarely threaten people. "They are rarely seen by people in the first place."
Bears begin to breed in June and the animal seen in the Basin might be searching for a mate.
"I was very surprised," said Swenson, who added that a black bear was spotted a few years ago in Deer Valley.
He knows of two bears killed during his career by drivers in Parleys Canyon.
"They come down looking for food in trash cans and an easy meal," Swenson said.
He advises hikers who encounter black bears to not make eye contact and to back away while waving their arms and making noise.
"Give the bear its space," Swenson said. "They pose a very minimal threat if any. So if you run across a bear, consider yourself lucky."
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