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Scout leader could face charges for shooting bear at camp

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EVANSTON, Wyo. — An investigation is underway after a young black bear was shot at a Scout camp, having been drawn into the area by a dirty campsite, officials say.

The incident occurred at a private campsite owned by the Boy Scouts of America. Troops from all over Utah use the grounds. The BSA said troops are always briefed on bear awareness and safety when they first arrive on site, but one group put everyone at risk by leaving out food.

Officials said that once a bear has a taste of food, he's sticking around. Try and shoo him away, and he'll be back. This is one lesson Boy Scouts at Hinckley Scout Ranch at East Fork of the Bear River learned on day one of camp.

"How to put their food away, what to do with their trash, how to put their smellables away at night," said Rick Barnes, Scout executive of the BSA Great Salt Lake Council.

Still, one troop left behind its snacks on Wednesday night.

"We got a call from one of our staff members that there was a bear in the camp site," Barnes said.

A young black bear was on top of a picnic table eating the leftovers.

"They tried to get the bear out of the camp site and it would not go," he said.

A scout leader at the camp then shot the bear three times, killing it.

"For the safety of all of our youth, which was about 500, we had to take the bear down," Barnes said.

There had been a presentation given to the group about bear awareness and bear safety in order to keep the camp clean, to keep the bears from coming in.

–Jodie Anderson, Department of Wildlife Resources

This wasn't the first time the camp had encountered a bear. Over the weekend, a bear attacked tents at the same site.

Jodie Anderson with the Department of Wildlife Resources said it has asked the BSA several times to put food away.

"There had been a presentation given to the group about bear awareness and bear safety in order to keep the camp clean to keep the bears from coming in," Anderson said.

The group was asked to leave the camp Thursday and won't be allowed to return until next year, Barnes said.

"They put the whole camp at risk and so we sent them home," Barnes said.

The Scout leader could face charges. The DWR is now investigating, and will then hand over the case to the county attorney. In the worst case scenario, the Scout leader could be charged with intentional take.

About four or five other bear incidents have been reported to DWR this summer, Anderson said, most related to food that was left out.

Contributing: Jared Page


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