Idaho Fish and Game officials are seeking information on illegal poaching of a black bear sow near Priest Lake.
The sow, which was discovered Sept. 9, had been shot and was left to waste near Hills Resort, said T.J. Ross, senior fisheries research biologist in a press release.
Ross said it’s likely that the sow was the same reported near the resort in August with three cubs. The quartet had little fear of humans, setting up a dangerous situation, Ross said.
Initially, Fish and Game staff provided local residents with assistance and suggestions for bear awareness and securing trash and attractants to try and reduce potential for human and bear conflicts. However in late August, the sow quarreled with two dogs at separate residences in the area as she was defending her young. Ross said the incidents resulted in the death of one dog and multiple stitches for the other.
“As any local will attest to, Priest Lake is not only known for its beauty, but also for its high densities of both black and grizzly bears,” Ross said. “Unfortunately, there are times when bears can become habituated to being near humans as they seek easy food from bird feeders, garbage cans and other easy sources.”
Fish and Game staff attempted to trap the bears between Sept. 1-8, but efforts proved unsuccessful, he said.
“In situations like this, the hope is the bears can be trapped and relocated unharmed,” Ross said.
On Sept. 8, residents near the resort reported hearing rifle shots near the trash bins at the resort between 8:30-9:30 p.m. Fish and Game staff located the dead sow in the area the following day.
Ross said the sow had been shot several times and her body left to waste. The cubs were not in the area and have not been seen since the time of the incident. If they are located, IDFG officials said they will likely have to be put down as they will likely not survive the winter months on their own.
“Although frustration with the bears among the local residents was entirely justified, the circumstances surrounding the poaching incident were dangerous for other citizens, and the use of artificial light and the waste of game are punishable wildlife crimes,” Ross said. “It is not legal for citizens to take matters into their own hands in these circumstances; however, bears that are posing an immediate threat to a person or property may be killed in self-defense without a license or tag. Fish and Game staff have received specialized training to handle situations such as this one.”
Anyone with information on the poaching are asked contact the Citizens Against Poaching hotline (1-800-632-5999) and indicate they may have information regarding a black bear poaching case near Hills Resort on Priest Lake. Poaching information can also be reported online. Individuals providing information can remain anonymous.
Information leading to charges being filed would be eligible for a reward from the Citizens Against Poaching program.
Homeowners, campers and hunters can help keep bears wild and avoid costly property damage by taking some simple precautions.
Keep pet food secured as you do your own. Bears like pet food as much as your pet does.
Avoid filling bird feeders until wintertime.
Keep garbage in a secure location, and place it at the curb only on the morning of pick up.
When selecting a campsite, look for recent signs of bear activity. If you see them, look for a different campsite.
Keep your camp clean; cook and prepare food far away from your sleeping area.
Never keep food in your tent.
Hang food away from your sleeping area in a bag at least 10 feet off the ground and at least four feet from the nearest trunk. Or use commercially available bear-resistant containers, and locate them away from your sleeping area.
Never keep personal hygiene products, such as toothpaste or deodorant, in your tent; secure these items with your food.
Do not bury or throw garbage into the nearby woods.
Hang harvested animals at least 10 feet off the ground and at least four feet from the nearest tree trunk. A meat pole placed between two trees is a good option.
Make sure to clean your grills and keep them in a building if possible.