F&G officer dispatches black bear near large public event in Riggins
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: June 4, 2024

On the evening of June 1, an Idaho Fish and Game conservation officer killed a male black bear near the Riggins City Park during a large public gathering, after attempts to haze the bear out of the area were unsuccessful.

Although Idahoans commonly see black bears in the wild, one that appears in daylight and shows little or no fear of people poses an unacceptable public safety risk. Before it was killed, the bear had entered the park and passed nearby many people.

The Fish and Game officer and an Idaho State Police officer initially tried to haze the bear out of the area, but were forced to shoot it when it appeared likely to re-enter the crowded park where people were enjoying a concert during the annual Big Water Blowout Concert and Dutch Oven Cookoff.

The bear was first observed getting into trash cans in Riggins earlier in May, and at that time Fish and Game worked with the City of Riggins to spread the word about preventing access to human food sources. Unfortunately, the bear continued to have access to trash and other foods and was increasingly showing signs that it was unafraid of people, even after several residents had fired warning shots in its vicinity.

Trapping and relocating the bear was unlikely to resolve the problem because bears that feed on garbage and other human-produced foods often return from the relocation site or get into trouble in the area they are released.

Fish and Game and the officers involved regret that the bear needed to be dispatched, and that participants at the event had to witness this sad scene.

“Fish and Game employees choose a career in wildlife management and conservation because they care deeply about wild animals, so the decision to euthanize animals is not one we take lightly,” said District Conservation Officer Marshall Haynes. “However, we must prioritize public safety, and given the unique circumstances of an agitated bear potentially heading toward a large crowd of people, the decision to kill the bear was the correct, but unfortunate, resolution. Killing this bear was an unfortunate last resort, but not nearly as tragic as if it had injured a human after we had an opportunity to stop it.”

Incidents like this reinforce the importance of securing human food sources from wildlife to keep wildlife wild and people safe.

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