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Bear spotted in Park City neighborhood

(Park City Police Department)


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PARK CITY — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is redoubling efforts in Park City following another rash of reported bear sightings.

The marauding animal, first sighted Monday near Jeremy Ranch, was spotted at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Park Meadows neighborhood of Mountain Ridge Court. Several sightings were reported throughout the night and early Thursday morning between City Park on Park Avenue and the City Shops on Bonanza Drive. The bear was then spotted again Thursday night in the neighborhood of Mellow Mountain at 8:30 p.m., 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.

The 2-year-old black bear was also seen near Pinebrook on Tuesday.

The bear has not shown any aggression to humans, said DWR wildlife manager Covy Jones, but has damaged Park City residents’ property.

“I don’t think we have a highly ferocious, scary bear,” Jones said. “What we have is a young bear who’s getting into trouble. We want to stop that.“

DWR officials have set humane traps near areas of reported sightings and are actively searching for the bear. In cooperation with the federal wildlife officials, the division introduced a team of tracking hounds to the bear’s scent Thursday morning.

The DWR will consider several solutions, including possible relocation, once they have captured and evaluated the bear.

“Human life and safety is always our No. 1 concern, followed closely by the bear’s health and safety,” Jones said. “We want the best outcome for both.”

To ensure interim safety, the city placed reverse 911 calls to all Park Meadows residents Thursday morning informing them of the situation and requesting that all pets be kept inside as to not interfere with the hounds’ search.

A simpler citywide reverse 911 was also issued, along with a news release containing bear safety tips and information.

What should you do if you see a bear?

1. Stand your ground.Never back up, lie down, or play dead. Stay calm and give the bear a chance to leave. Prepare to use your bear spray or another deterrent.

2. Don't run away or climb a tree. Black bears are excellent climbers and can run up to 35 mph — you cannot outclimb or outrun them.

3. Know bear behavior. If a bear stands up, grunts, moans or makes other sounds, it's not being aggressive. These are the ways a bear gets a better look or smell and expresses its interest.

Source: wildlife.utah.gov

Bev Barham, who found bear scat in her front yard Thursday morning, said her neighborhood has not seen a bear in the 40 years she has lived there.

Barham’s fenced yard keeps her fears at bay, but still, she said, “it’s a little disconcerting.”

Eleven-year Park City residents Mike and Jincy Plummer take a different tune.

“I love it,” Mike Plummer said. “It’s part of living in Park City. I think it’s really cool.”

“It certainly spiced up our morning,” Jincy Plummer agreed. “I just hope that the bear gets relocated to a place where it can do its own thing and stay out of our trash.”

The DWR hopes so, too, and the sooner the better, Jones said.

“You don’t want to habituate a bear to humans,” the wildlife manager said. “When they lose their fear of humans, you have more human-bear interactions, more potential for conflict and more danger.”

Residents can minimize their chances of confrontation by taking basic bear-proofing measures, such as keeping barbecue grills inside garages and taking trash cans to the curb on the morning of pickup rather than the night before.

Anyone who sees a bear within city limits is asked to call local authorities at 435-615-5500.

Officials also say people should never corner a bear in a backyard and to give the bear a clear escape route. For more information on bear safety, visit wildlife.utah.gov.

Dispose of trash carefully

  • Store trash in a secure location or bear-safe container.
  • Put your trash out for pick-up in the morning, rather than the previous night
  • Clean your trash container regularly
  • Clean up BBQ grills
  • Remove hummingbird feeders
  • Don't leave scraps of food outside

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Utah
Allison Oligschlaeger

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