Utah wildlife officials set up traps, signs after bear encounter above Bountiful

Jun 2, 2023, 5:18 PM

Bear trap...

A photo of the trap that state wildlife biologists set up near Buckland Flats Campground in a canyon above Bountiful Thursday after a man reported a bear encounter at a campsite in the canyon. (Courtesy: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

(Courtesy: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

BOUNTIFUL, Utah — Utah wildlife officials have set up traps in a canyon above Bountiful after a man reported a bear encounter at a campsite in the canyon early Thursday.

The incident happened shortly after midnight, according to Utah Division of Wildlife Resources spokesman Mark Hadley. He said a father and son had set up a tent at the Buckland Flats Campground when the father woke up to the sounds of grunting and sniffing coming from outside the tent.

“He was like, ‘What’s going on?’ And then all of a sudden, he felt something push in on his tent, kind of over on the side of the tent that his son was sleeping,” Hadley said, explaining what was reported to the agency. “He assumed it was probably a bear outside his tent, so he started to yell and the animal actually walked around the tent and came over to his side and kind of pushed in on the tent.”

The father reported feeling the paw of the creature as the bear pressed down on the tent. He happened to have a .22-caliber rifle with him, which he said he fired away from the bear, providing enough noise to scare the bear away.

He and his son then packed up and left the area once the animal had left, reporting the incident to the Davis County Sheriff’s Office through its non-emergency line.

Deputies reported the incident to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Thursday afternoon and state conservation officers contacted the man to learn more about what happened. He agreed to join them at the campsite, where they discovered a bear paw print in the area, Hadley said.

The division has since set up a bear trap in an effort to capture the bear and relocate it farther up into the mountains. They’ve also posted signage warning anyone recreating of the recent bear sighting. The concern is that with summer approaching, more people are going to be in the area where the incident occurred.

“It’s not surprising to see a bear up in that area,” Hadley said. “But the fact that a bear would come up to a tent — we’d like to go ahead and trap the bear and move it if we can.”

State wildlife biologists said last month that this year’s long snow season meant that bears left their dens “a little later than usual.” They typically end their hibernation period in March or April.

They urge people who are out in bear country to “bear-proof” any food and supplies by storing food, snacks, and scented items, such as deodorant and toothpaste, in areas where bears can’t reach them, like a locked trailer or the trunk of a car. People should also keep their campsite clean to help prevent bears from being attracted to the site.

“Black bears will typically do everything they can to avoid people. When a bear finds food, though, that all changes. A bear will often become aggressive toward anything it perceives as threatening the area where it found the food — that includes people,” said Darren DeBloois, the division’s game mammals coordinator, in a news release published May 15.

The division also has tips for encountering a bear.

  • Don’t back up, lie down, or play dead. Stay calm and give the bear a chance to leave. If you have bear spray, prepare to use it.
  • Don’t run away or climb a tree. People won’t outclimb or outrun a black bear.
  • Know bear behavior. If a bear stands up, grunts, moans, or makes other sounds, it’s not being aggressive. Bears do these when they are trying to get a better look or smell.
  • Always fight back when a bear attacks. People have used rocks, sticks, backpacks, water bottles, and even their hands and feet to fend off a bear.

State wildlife experts set up a webpage where people can find more information and safety tips about bears, which be found here.

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Utah wildlife officials set up traps, signs after bear encounter above Bountiful