SPRINGVILLE — A boy camping in Hobble Creek Canyon with a Boy Scouts troop is OK after receiving scratches from a bear that tried to enter his tent Tuesday morning, state wildlife officials said. The bear was later located and euthanized by officials.
It was about 6 a.m. when the bear entered a campsite in the Left Fork of Hobble Creek Canyon, on a private property toward the top of the canyon, and disturbed a tent set up there. A boy in the tent, who officials said was 12 or 13 years old, received minor scratches but was otherwise uninjured, according to Utah Division of Wildlife Resources spokeswoman Faith Heaton Jolley.
She said at least two other boys were also in the tent at the time and were unharmed. Their tent was in the campsite area among five other tents.
"This one boy was in a tent 150 feet away from the rest of the campsite. He was kind of in an area that kind of had some trees and different shrubs and stuff, off by himself," Jolley said. "The bear came into the campsite, just curious and looking around, and went to his tent, scratched through the screen door of the tent, and it just kind of caught the kid."
Jolley described the scratches as "superficial" and no blood was drawn.
"It didn't even go through his shirt," she added.
The boys in the tent made some noise and scared the bear away. Some of the Scout leaders drove down to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Central Region Office in Springville to report the incident. Wildlife officials then reported to the campsite, Jolley said.
Wildlife officials used dogs to track down the bear about 400 feet away from the campsite and euthanized it, she continued. The bear was estimated to be a 2-year-old male and about 150 pounds. Jolley said the bear was euthanized is because it didn't show fear of people.
Video of the dogs treeing the bear pic.twitter.com/SD0Uiml8fk— Faith Heaton Jolley (@FaithHJolley) June 18, 2019
“Any time a bear shows a lack of fear around people, we euthanize it just for safety purposes,” she said. “Any time there is direct contact with a person, as well. That’s just part of our policy.”
The Left Fork area of the canyon was closed Tuesday morning as state and federal wildlife crews searched for the bear. In addition to tracking down the bear, warning signs of bears in the area were posted Tuesday, Jolley said.
Bears aren't uncommon in the area where the incident happened. Bear sightings in 2011 prompted authorities to post warnings and even shut down a campsite in Hobble Creek Canyon at the time.
In 2007, an 11-year-old boy was killed by a bear in American Fork Canyon, which is north of Hobble Creek Canyon but also in Utah County.
Wildlife officials say anyone who encounters a bear should stand their ground. Never lie down or play dead, run away or a climb a tree, they say. More safety tips about what to do when encountering a bear can be found here.
As for Tuesday's incident, wildlife officials were relieved nobody was seriously hurt.
"We're just really, really happy that the boy is doing OK," Jolley said. "That's our No. 1 priority: the safety of people. We're really happy this had an OK ending."