Bear is killed |

Bear is killed

Jenifer Ragland

The black bear that has drawn recent attention to the classic conflict between humans and wildlife was euthanized Thursday, after El Dorado County law enforcement officials determined it was a public safety hazard.

“In reviewing all of the factors – that the bear had been a nuisance in the neighborhood, had been in people’s yards, was chased away several times and returned – the sheriff perceived the bear as a potential threat to humans in the area,” said Terry Mansfield, chief of the wildlife management division of the California Department of Fish and Game.

He said as a matter of policy, the department was forced to humanely put the animal to sleep with a painless lethal injection.

El Dorado County trappers captured the bear last week near Nez Perce Drive off Upper Truckee Road, after a resident found it in her garage eating dog food from a bag it had ripped open.

Mansfield said this is not the behavior of a normal wild bear, but of an animal that had lost its fear of humans as a result of people offering it food.

“We’re very sad here. We hate to have a bear euthanized,” he said. “It may sound trite, but a fed bear is a dead bear.”

Options to relocate or place the 4- to-5-year-old bear in captivity were not found to be feasible for a number of reasons, Mansfield said.

“No approved zoos are eager to take wild adult bears, and we cannot knowingly move a problem animal from your back yard to mine,” he added. “Putting it in a good bear habitat where there are already other bears would be like taking me to India and dropping me off there – I wouldn’t do well.”

Still, many residents are upset about the bear’s unfortunate fate.

“The public needs to be aware that when they do feed any type of wildlife, that animal will eventually have to die,” said Anita Chittenden, a Meyers resident. “I’m a real animal activist, and it’s a shame that the bear will never be around anymore.”

Although it is unusual for black bears to be out of hibernation at this time of year, Mansfield urged residents to refrain from feeding bears or any wild animals that may be roaming around their neighborhoods.

An ordinance passed by the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors last week made the action illegal and punishable by fines.

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