Cute black bear cub that posed for selfies was shot and killed because it was too friendly with tourists, say Oregon wildlife officials
The state does not relocate bears that have become accustomed to being around people because it dramatically increases the likelihood of problematic encounters
A baby black bear had to be shot and killed after officials say it became too friendly with humans and even posed for selfies with tourists.
According to a press release by the Washington County Sheriff's Office, the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife "lethally removed" the black bear last Wednesday, June 12, after relocation no longer remained an option.
The sheriff's office and Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife first started getting calls about the bear around June 4, after several tourists spotted it at the intersection of Scoggins Valley Road and Herr Road near the popular Henry Hagg Lake, which is about 30 miles west of Portland near Forest Grove.
When officials arrived at the scene, it was not their first interaction with the 100-pound bear. Having felt sympathy for the bear because of the 90-degree weather, many tourists had been leaving food and leftovers. Wildlife biologists Kurt License and Doug Kitchen, who tried to trap and relocate the bear previously, had reported having seen it eating trail mix, sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and other items as well.
Things came to a head on June 12 when the WCSO tweeted that the bear had been spotted near Boat Ramp A and that deputies were attempting to drive it back into the woods. They initially succeeded, only to see it return to the spot the very next day.
Officials said they saw numerous "selfies" people had taken with the bear that were posted on social media and it became apparent that it had become too habituated and friendly with humans. They were left with little choice but to kill it.
The state does not relocate bears that have become accustomed to being around people because it dramatically increases the likelihood of problematic encounters, they explained. "This is a classic example of why we implore members of the public not to feed bears," License told Oregon Live. "While the individuals who put food out for this bear may have had good intentions bears should never, ever be fed. It was very clear that the animal was way too habituated. With that information, it was a human health and safety risk, and we had to remove it."
Rick Swart of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife concurred. He said the bear could have been relocated, as many others have been in the past, if it had not become so used to humans.
"We're sad it ended this way," said deputy Brian van Kleef of the WCSO. "Obviously no one wants to see a bear get killed, especially its many human fans. But I think it was the human interaction that ultimately led to its tragic end."
"It’s never a good idea to feed wild animals," License implored. "They are perfectly capable of fending for themselves, and it’s always better to leave them alone and enjoy them from a safe distance."