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Monday, Oct. 20, 2014

Bear spends two hours trying to enter family's camping trailer

By Devon Dolan and Whitney Evans, Deseret News

Published: Mon, Sept. 1 6:15 p.m. MDT

 A Heber family camping in the Book Cliffs area had an unexpected visit from local wildlife Saturday, when a bear made a valiant effort to enter their trailer.

A Heber family camping in the Book Cliffs area had an unexpected visit from local wildlife Saturday, when a bear made a valiant effort to enter their trailer.

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

HELPER, Carbon County — A Heber family camping in the Book Cliffs area had an unexpected visit from local wildlife Saturday, when a bear made a valiant effort to enter their trailer.

Sami Graham said she looked out the window of their camping trailer Saturday night and found herself staring at a 6-foot-tall black bear.

"This bear is standing straight up on his hind legs looking at me straight in the eye," she said. "I wasn't expecting to be nose-to-nose with this bear. I just hurried and closed my blinds."

The woman said she and her four children tried to scare the bear away by making noise inside the trailer. They jumped up and down, slammed cupboards and cranked up the volume on their TV to no avail.

The bear responded by rocking the trailer, scratching at the door and tearing at the trailer's fiberglass exterior for more than two hours as it attempted to enter, Graham said. Finally, the woman's husband returned and fired his pistol into the air, frightening the bear away.

"I always wanted to see a bear in the wild," Graham said. "It was on my bucket list, but I didn't want to kick the bucket to have it off my bucket list."

Dax Mangus, wildlife program manager in northeast Utah for the Utah Division of Wildlife Services, said there are a lot of bears in the Book Cliffs area and that they are often attracted by the food campers bring.

“They like the same kind of food we like if they can get it,” Mangus said.

He said the bear was first spotted and reported by campers Saturday morning. Bear trackers and their dogs responded and were able to track the bear's scent to the campsite.

Mangus said officials spoke with the family there and then attempted to locate the bear, but were unsuccessful. It is believed that bear was the one that returned to the camp Saturday night.

"That's concerning to us," he said.

The encounter was classified as an incident, not an attack, and because there are no campers in the area, the bear is not currently considered a threat. The DWR determines whether a bear is "an imminent threat to public safety" on a case by case basis, Mangus said.

Some signs are bears that are extremely aggressive and unafraid of people. When possible, officials will try to move a bear out of an area rather than kill it.

In some cases, they will sometimes use dogs to "harass" wildlife in an attempt to keep them from returning to certain areas. Hunters also help manage the bear population in the Book Cliffs area.

Meantime, Mangus urged campers to keep their campsites clean and to secure their food. DWR officials planned to return to the Graham campsite this week to post signs and see if there had been any other incidents.

"I'm hoping that the bear just stays away," Mangus said.

Contributing: Emiley Morgan

Email: wevans@deseretnews.com; ddolan@deseretnews.com

Recommended
1. CP
Tooele, UT,
Sept. 2, 2014

I am glad the family is ok. But people need to remember the mountain is where the bear lives, and people are the visitor, unfortunately people seem to forget that fact. They have a great sense of smell and can smell food even in a trailer, so don't think you're immune from a wildlife encounter because you're not in a tent. As the ranger said secure your food, respect the home of the bear and keep it clean. For the bears sake I hope he stays away, so his "bucket" doesn't get kicked for doing what bears do naturally.

2. FDRfan
Sugar City, ID,
Sept. 2, 2014

"I always wanted to see a bear in the wild," Graham said. "It was on my bucket list, but I didn't want to kick the bucket to have it off my bucket list."

That is a classic quote.

3. One opinion
west jordan, UT,
Sept. 2, 2014

In years past we never had to worry about bears when we went camping and hiking. Bears were rare in Utah. I felt it was unwise to reintroduce bears back into the state of Utah when they did because we have so many youth groups and families who go camping and hiking in the summer in Utah. Now we have bear attacks and even death from this "reintroduction".

Now I've just read about an environmentalist group who are petitioning the U.S. Fish in Game to for grizzlies to be introduced into several western states including California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. This is way past ridiculous.

4. Florwood
American Fork, UT,
Sept. 2, 2014

Glad the family was prepared, first with a trailer instead of a tent, and then having a pistol along.

5. Brave Sir Robin
San Diego, CA,
Sept. 2, 2014

@One opinion

"Now I've just read about an environmentalist group who are petitioning the U.S. Fish in Game to for grizzlies to be introduced into several western states including California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. This is way past ridiculous."

Let me get this straight:
1. Prior man arriving, bears are living in the woods in all these states and others.
2. Man moves into the bears' habitat and wipes out all the bears.
3. Man has change of heart, reintroduces bears into their own habitat.
4. Man continues to live in the bears' habitat.
5. Bears attack men who are living in bears' habitat.

....and you think that putting bears back into their own habitat because they might attack people who are intruding into bears' habitat is "way past ridiculous"? I don't know what to say.