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Wildlife Officials Kill Bear After Tourists Feed And Take Selfies With It

mason.zimmer 18 Jun 2019

When we watched Yogi Bear cartoons growing up, it seemed hard to understand why the ranger was so insistent that Yogi couldn't have any picnic baskets.

And although Boo-Boo understood that the ranger wouldn't like Yogi's schemes to get people's food, even he couldn't really explain why that is.

In real life, however, there's an unfortunately clear reason why those signs warning us not to feed the bears exist and one sad case from Oregon should remind us to heed them.

Last week, members of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife were called to the area near Hagg Lake.

Twitter | @WCSOOregon

According to Oregon Live, this was because a bear that had previously been spotted eating trail mix and other human foods had returned to the area.

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The day before, deputies of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office responded to reports that it was hanging around the boat ramp.

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At the time, they had tried to shoo it back into the woods so it wouldn't get too attached to human interaction.

At first, this seemed successful.

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However, the bear returned to the area the next day, suggesting that it had already made the connection between humans and food.

Reddit | Greypo

Not only that, but it was apparently comfortable enough with the presence of humans that multiple visitors had uploaded selfies they'd taken with it to social media.

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Although this comfort that comes with tourists feeding bears may sound harmless, it actually spells danger to both the bear and the visitors.

Reddit | tobleroney69

As wildlife biologist Kurt Licence told Oregon Live, this is partially due to the fact that certain human foods can make bears sick.

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But unfortunately, the problem is even more fundamental than this.

Reddit | MastleCassle

Once bears associate humans with food, it apparently leads to a severe increase in the chances of what officials call "problematic encounters."

In other words, this makes it more likely for bears to attack humans.

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Relocating the bear to another area is also typically not an option.

Twitter | @WCSOOregon

That's because even if the area itself is unfamiliar, the same problem will arise as long as humans visit it. That association between humans and food isn't often forgotten by bears.

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Tragically, all of this means that wildlife officials saw no other option but to kill the bear when it returned to Hagg Lake for the second time on Thursday.

Twitter | @WCSOOregon

"We got within 20 feet of the bear," Licence said. "It showed no reaction to us."

While anyone else would find this sort of peaceful interaction positive, it meant the worst for this bear cub. It meant it was much too comfortable with humans.

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The cub was humanely killed by officials on June 13.

Twitter | @WCSOOregon

As Licence said, "This is a classic example of why we implore members of the public not to feed bears. While the individuals who put food out for this bear may have had good intentions bears should never, ever be fed."

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One day later, Washington County Sheriff's Department released a tweet defending their actions towards the bear.

In the tweet, they explain that sending the bear to a sanctuary "wasn't a viable option" and express their sadness at the outcome.

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Despite insistence that this was the only option available to officials, people on Twitter have still expressed their outrage.

One user told officials they had been "unnecessarily cruel", while another accused them of carrying out the killing "because they didn't want to work that hard."

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This person shared their own photos of the bear and said that he "did not die because I took a picture of him crossing the road."

In the post, the Instagram user expresses her feelings towards the events that led towards the bear being euthanized, particularly the people feeding and snapping selfies with the cub, and said that "humans are incredibly stupid and have no common sense."

"Stay out of the woods if you don't understand how to act when you are there," she said.

h/t: Oregon Live

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