Black Bear Euthanized After Humans Intentionally Fed It

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) announced yesterday that wildlife officials had to euthanize a young black bear after someone (or possibly more than one someone) intentionally and repeatedly fed it. It’s illegal to feed bears either directly or indirectly, ODFW said in a press release, and doing so can result in a criminal citation.

The ODFW’s report suggests an employee at a local car dealership in or near Cottage Grove, south of Eugene, Oregon, fed the bear on more than one occasion.

“In March, ODFW and Oregon State Police served a local car dealership and employee with a warning to cease feeding the black bear,” the press release says.

We don’t know whether the employee stopped after the warning, but it was too late. The two-year-old male black bear continued to roam Cottage Grove, approaching people and their homes, looking for free food.

“ODFW and Cottage Grove Police Department provided information to residents and warned people not to feed the bear,” ODFW said in its press release. “Bears that are fed by people lose their wariness and can become aggressive and pose a threat to human safety. In this case, the bear was being intentionally fed, had become food-conditioned, showed no fear of people when approached, and eventually began approaching people, presumably for food handouts.”

ODFW spent three weeks trying to capture the bear, but then, things took a turn for the worse. Earlier this week, the bear cornered a woman who was trying to get in her house. Then, it took a nap on her neighbor’s front porch. This isn’t normal behavior for wild black bears, and habituated bears can become aggressive towards humans.

“At the request of ODFW, the bear was killed by Oregon State Police on Monday night, April 1,” ODFW states.

District wildlife biologist Chris Yee told ODFW: “This is not the outcome anyone wanted. The actions we had to take were a direct result of people intentionally feeding this bear.”

Don’t Feed Bears

You’re not helping a bear by feeding it. Bears are capable of foraging for food on their own. Bears that get handouts from humans remember and may start to seek them out. Your handout could cost the bear its life, or it could cost human life, if the bear becomes aggressive.

Here are ODFW’s tips for living or recreating in bear country:

  • Never feed or approach bears
  • Secure food, garbage, and recycling
  • Remove bird feeders in bear habitats
  • Never leave pet food outdoors
  • Clean and store grills after each use
  • Alert neighbors and wildlife authorities to unusual bear activity (continued sightings during daylight hours, lack of wariness around people or pets, etc.)

For more details on the ODFW’s difficult decision, see its press release.

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