WEDNESDAY, AUG. 19, 2009

Reluctant rangers shoot, kill grizzly

Cub also dies, victim of tranquilizer dart

WEST GLACIER, Mont. – A disturbingly friendly grizzly bear that had boldly wandered through campgrounds and sniffed food and around the edges of tents has been killed after Glacier National Park officials determined the animal had become too much of a threat to humans.

One of her two yearling cubs died after being tranquilized. The other will be moved to the Bronx Zoo.

Park rangers shot the 17-year-old grizzly Monday about 300 yards from the Oldman Lake Campground, which was occupied. An hour later, the yearling cubs were hit with tranquilizer darts, but one died. Rangers had attempted to resuscitate the yearling by performing mouth-to-nose breathing.

The adult female had a long history of interaction with people, and had never been too aggressive.

“Instead of avoiding people, it’s almost like she’s attracted to them,” said Jack Potter, Glacier’s chief of science and natural resources.

The bear used park trails and shadowed hikers. She could not be dissuaded from entering a campground by people yelling and waving their arms.

Potter said the decision to kill the bear was difficult, but park officials couldn’t afford to wait until something really bad happened.

“Some people seem to want us to wait until there’s a body before we act,” he told the Missoulian. “We don’t work that way.”

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