Utah wildlife officials have killed a black bear that injured a boy in Hobble Creek Canyon east of Springville early Tuesday after it entered a campsite and disturbed a tent where the youngster was sleeping.
He suffered minor scratches and is expected to be OK, according to Faith Heaton Jolley, spokeswoman for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
The boy was with a group of Boy Scouts camped on private land at the head of Hobble Creek’s left fork, where they had pitched six tents. He was sleeping in one about 150 feet from the others when the bear, a 2-year-old, 150-pound male, entered the site at 6 a.m.
“It wandered by that tent and scratched the door. The claws struck the boy’s back," Jolley said. “The scratch was superficial. It didn’t rip his shirt. It didn’t even draw any blood. He made some noise and the bear ran off.”
Officials believe the bear was simply curious when it approached the tent.
“The bear was not necessarily looking for food,” she said. “The Scout leaders made sure there was no food in the tents.”
While the bear did not display aggression, DWR officials decided to track down the bear and kill it because its apparent comfort around humans could pose a future safety risk, according to Jolley.
The Scout leaders reported the encounter, and DWR biologists responded with some tracking dogs that quickly picked up the bear’s scent. Within five minutes, the dogs tracked the bear 400 feet from the campsite and cornered it in a tree, where it was shot.
Black bears are commonly sighted in Utah’s mountains, although maulings are rare. A bear killed an 11-year-old boy in 2007 while he was camping with his family in American Fork Canyon, north of Hobble Creek.
Wildlife officials stress people should never feed bears, which encourages them to seek out humans rather than avoid them. While camping in bear country, keep food and trash secure and stoves and grills clean.
If you encounter an aggressive black bear, stay calm and give the bear a chance to leave. If it attacks, stand your ground and fight back if necessary. Do not run away, lie down or climb a tree. Bears can outrun or outclimb even the quickest human.