Officials capture bear in Pinebrook
May 19, 2015
When Sharon Anderson-Morris walked into her kitchen Monday morning to grab some coffee she was greeted by an unexpected sight: a large, brown bear was sitting on her deck eating from a birdfeeder he was holding between his legs.
The bear looked at Anderson-Morris and kept eating, she said, adding that he reminded her of Winnie the Pooh with his honey pot.
"He was so beautiful with big brown eyes and he just kind of looked like Pooh sitting there," Anderson- Morris said with a laugh. "We didn’t even hear him or notice him until we went to get coffee. He was very quiet and he wasn’t acting angry or aggressively."
The Pinebrook resident said she had received an automated 911 alert warning residents that a bear had been spotted in the area at approximately 6 a.m. and knew state and local officials were actively tracking the animal. Despite her reservations and even though she "hated to do it," the self-proclaimed animal lover said she knew she had to report the bear’s location.
But until officials arrived, Anderson-Morris and her husband kept the bear company, tossing the animal fresh apples and carrots, which she said "he absolutely loved."
Once Summit County law enforcement officials and officers with the Utah Division of Wildlife and Resources arrived, they too started tossing the bear food, mainly bagels and donuts, in an attempt to lure him out of Anderson-Morris’ yard.
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After several attempts and multiple missed shots, at approximately 11:15 a.m., the elusive animal was darted with a tranquilizer above the right shoulder. The bear, described as a nearly two-year old yearling, light brown in color, was put into the bear trap at approximately 11:20 a.m.
The bear was relocated and released Monday afternoon at an undisclosed location. In a DWR video of the release, it takes the bear a few seconds to crawl out of the trap. But once he’s out, the animal runs away from the truck only briefly glancing in the direction of the camera.
Venssa Knight, a Pinebrook resident who also saw the bear Monday morning, said, even though the animal appeared harmless, she agreed with the decision to relocate it.
"I think tranquilizing him is probably the best course of action because once he gets into the garbage cans he will keep coming back and he will be in danger," Knight said. "I feel very comfortable with them tranquilizing him and relocating him somewhere else."
The bear’s capture follows nearly two weeks worth of reports and sightings of a bear or bears in various Snyderville Basin and Park City neighborhoods, including the most recent sighting reported in upper Deer Valley last week.
Colvy Jones, DWR’s wildlife program manager for the central region, said he can’t definitively say whether the bear is the same one that has recently been spotted in the area.
"I think it’s the same bear as yesterday, but that’s all that I can say," Jones said. "We had a bear that was causing a problem and we caught him."
According to the Summit County Sheriff’s Office call logs, dispatch received a report Sunday of a bear in Pinebrook. Deputies and wildlife officers responded, but were unable to locate the animal.
Dispatch received another call early Monday morning reporting the bear was still in the neighborhood, triggering a combined five-hour effort between state and local officials to locate the bear.
"I want to send a special thanks to my team, the Summit County Sheriff’s office and the houndsman for all of their hard work two days in a row," Jones said. "Rain or shine, I have the most dedicated guys there are and I think the public needs to know that."
The bear’s, or bears’, highly-publicized presence in recent weeks has reignited conversations about bear safety and living with wildlife in Summit County.
"The one thing we can do is learn to live with bears and I’m asking Park City to please help us," Jones said. "The bear was in the garbage again and we’ve asked people to not put out trash cans until the morning of pickup. We’ve also asked people to reconsider bird feeders. It just feels like you’re beating a dead horse and no one seems to care, yet when the bear shows up they want a response.
"You know the saying ‘a fed bear is a dead bear,’ so since we live in the mountains, please help us," he pleaded.