EVANSTON — A young black bear was spotted in an Evanston neighborhood the evening of Saturday, July 16, where it wandered through backyards and driveways for several hours.
It was seen wandering through the Aspen Grove area, with sightings on Aspen Grove Drive, Wilderness Point, Elkridge Lane, City View Drive and other areas in the neighborhood. Some families made an adventure out of driving to see it, and several local residents also snapped photographs of the bear cutting through their driveways and roadways. Law enforcement joined in the hunt, too, as several residents called dispatch.
Dispatcher Tracy Chandler told the Herald Monday that dispatch has been receiving calls about the bear for about two weeks.
“It started making its way in towards town slowly every day from out on Highway 150,” she said. “... Each day it was closer to town.”
The Uinta County Sheriff’s Office and Evanston Police Department also joined in to help Game and Fish. The bear was located and dispatched around 10:30 p.m. on Saturday night. Sheriff’s Office investigator Andy Kopp said the sheriff’s office responded to the Gusher Valley Apartments on Sioux Drive to assist Game and Fish. The report noted that authorities decided to euthanize the bear because of its location and repeated behavior.
Bear sightings in and around town are rare but not unheard of.
“The last time I knew of a bear around Evanston was probably two or three years ago,” Kopp said, referring to past bear sightings on Wasatch Road and by the airport. “... It does happen, but not on a regular basis.”
According to the Humane Society of the United States, yearling black bears often seek out residential areas in the summer because they can sometimes find food easily — especially where trash cans are left open or overfull, compost piles invite rummaging and birdfeeders are easily accessible.
If bears do not find food easily, they may simply head out of town, but with easy access and no fear of people, bears can become a nuisance. The website bebearaware.org suggests that people put lime on their compost piles to accelerate decomposition and cut down on the odors; it is also important to avoid putting fish, meat and other strong-smelling scraps that could attract carnivores.
According to the humanesociety.org, these nuisance bears are most often young bears that are just learning how to get their own food apart from their mother — or mothers with young cubs.
“In many states, nuisance bears are killed or trapped and moved far away in hopes that they won’t come back,” the website states. “But most of the time this outcome wouldn’t have been necessary if people hadn’t made food so easy to find in the yard or trash dumpster.”
Because bears have such an acute sense of smell — the Humane Society reports that they smell seven times better than bloodhounds — they can easily find food and will remember where they found it. That leads to the bears becoming food-conditioned and losing their fear of people, which can be dangerous both for the animal and for the people.