Friday, July 23, 2010

Letter to The state of Utah and it's Forest Service and Division of Wildlife

I am disturbed by the  killing of a black bear at Payson Lakes Campground. I know many others whom share my concerns with the way the situation was handled. Since the incident I have been researching non-lethal alternatives in bear management and am curious to know why your department felt it was necessary to trap, than shoot the bear.  I came across the Utah  Bear management plan  while doing research and noticed on page 31 there are several non-lethal idea’s,Why where these not used? The Park Service in the Smokey Mountains has had success with re- instilling the fear of humans into bears, I believe Arkansas has also had success. I also know the management plan in Alaska allow the use of dogs, rubber bullets, Etc…. I was also surprised to learn that in some states Black Bears are endangered and there are plans in effect to restore populations, why is relocation to these states not an option? I would think that person in charge of the care of Payson Lakes would have an obligation to search for signs of bears close to the area before the campgrounds are open and at-least every few weeks until the grounds close. I always thought the DWR’s and USFSj's job was to manage wildlife and keep visitors safe. I have been to other states camping / backpacking and have had rangers at trail heads and campgrounds instructing campers of proper bear country camping techniques. I feel the campground should have been closed at the first sighting of the bear. Than bear deterrent practices such as dogs,rubber bullets, relocation, gps monitoring to ensure the bear did not return for at-least a week before reopening the campgrounds. I understand that it was a holiday weekend and the fee’s are important but this seemed like a good time to educate the public instead of  killing an animal in it’s environment looking for food. I found the following articles interesting and felt the ideas with in may help with Utah's bear Management plan.“National Park Rangers issue citations for feeding bears and for improper food storage. Feeding bears and improper food storage can result in fines of up to $5,000 and jail sentences lasting up to six months. Visitors are urged to view all wildlife at a safe distance and to never leave food or garbage unattended. Garbage Kills Bears!" "Wildlife managers use proactive aversive conditioning that involves capturing, working-up, and releasing bears back into the same area. The work-up involves tranquilizing the animal and performing a safe medical examination on the bear. While the procedure is harmless to the bear, it is unpleasant and re-instills a fear of humans. This approach allows bears to remain in their home range, but they shy away from the developed areas."  -
"AGFC biologists and technicians try to re-instill fear of humans in nuisance bears.“We provide a level of adverse conditioning while the bear is at the nuisance area,” Means said. “We tranquilize it, give it a lip tattoo and red ear tags for later recognition, and pull a tooth for aging and health data. Then we’ll take the bear to the nearest remote location, which may only be a few miles down the road. When it is fully awake, we open the culvert trap andpepper the bear with some rubber buckshot.” Means said bears are pretty quick learners and very few nuisance bears return for a second or third offense. In those rare cases, more drastic steps have to be taken. Occasionally, a bear simply can’t be reconditioned and it will be killed."-