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Biting bear, cub euthanized in Montana

| June 28, 2010 7:36 AM

A bear that injured a Washington man was trapped and euthanized on Thursday according to Jeffrey Darrah, Fish, Wildlife and Parks warden captain for region two. The female black bear bit through the side of a tent last Monday, June 14, at a campsite just southwest of St. Regis.

Rob Holmes, of Ellensburg, was awakened from his sleep at around 4:30 a.m. when he felt the animal bite his ear from outside the tent. The animal was not seen. Investigators were able to inspect bite marks in the tent and matched them to similar ones at a nearby abandoned site. Twenty-one stitches were required to close the injury to Holmes’ ear.

Darrah said that they set the trap at a campsite near Holmes’ that had previously been abandoned.

“We set the trap at the campsite where the bear had gotten into the garbage and at the site previously abandoned by another camper,” Darrah said. “We caught her, and her cub was also up a tree nearby.”

Darrah said they also euthanized the cub because it would no longer have its mother to provide care.

“Sadly, we had to put them both down,” Darrah said.

Darrah said the mother bear had previously been known to go down into areas with people. Darrah said FWP had received many reports from several residents that they had seen a bear in the area. Darrah said the black bear had also been down to one residence where she tore the cover off of a hot tub and chewed on it.

“It had become fairly obvious this bear was becoming habituated to being around humans and scoring easy handouts,” Darrah said. “Both the mother and the cub had shown bad behavior.”

Darrah said they have sent samples from the mother bear to determine whether or not she has rabies so they can let Holmes know.

The bears were removed from the area so they wouldn’t pose risk to any future campers. Prior to having the bear removed, the campground, located about two miles up Little Joe Road, was closed. Darrah had said previously that Holmes had done everything correctly, but it was the food left out at another abandoned campsite that drew the bear in.

“He (Holmes) kept a clean camp and did not place himself at risk. Unfortunately,” Darrah said, “food and other attractants that were abandoned at another nearby camp likely drew the bear in.”

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