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Dog injured in fight with black bear, the latest in a string of Idaho bear conflicts

Aug. 3, 2022 Updated Wed., Aug. 3, 2022 at 8:42 p.m.

A North American black bear.  (Dreamstime/Dreamstime/TNS)
A North American black bear. (Dreamstime/Dreamstime/TNS)
By Nicole Blanchard Idaho Statesman

A dog is recovering from injuries after fighting a black bear on a trail near Ketchum, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game said in a news release last week. It’s the latest in a series of black bear conflicts in the Wood River Valley and across Idaho.

Fish and Game officials said a woman was walking her dog near her home in the East Fork area south of Ketchum on July 22 when she and the dog encountered a black bear near the trail. The woman was walking backwards and talking to the bear, the agency said, when her dog, which was off-trail, came back to the trail and began to “scuffle” with the bear.

The woman described the bear as roughly the same size as her dog, a 120-pound Great Pyrenees. Great Pyrenees are large livestock guardian dogs frequently used in Idaho to guard sheep.

It wasn’t clear how long the fight lasted or how the animals were broken up. Fish and Game said the dog had several bite wounds and is recovering after being treated by a local veterinarian.

Officials don’t know if the bear, which left the area, sustained any injuries. Fish and Game said it would not make efforts to trap the bear.

“When a bear or any wildlife has direct contact with an unleashed pet in wildlands, we tend to not take management actions against wildlife,” Mike McDonald, the Magic Valley Regional Wildlife Manager, said in the news release. “In many situations wildlife and pets, especially dogs, don’t mix, and can actually make an encounter rise to an attack or fight between the two. We don’t want that to happen. Dog owners should be aware that they are responsible for their pets and their actions when recreating on public land.”

Fish and Game said they believe the bear was just in its natural habitat near the residential area, not seeking out human food. Last week, Fish and Game euthanized a female black bear that became habituated to unsecured garbage bins and had snapped and growled at people. The bear’s two cubs were taken to a wildlife rehabilitation center in McCall.

The agency also set a trap for a bear in the North Fork area of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area that was raiding campgrounds for food. The bear has not been captured.

In recent weeks, other black bear conflicts have been reported at Baumgartner Campground, near Pine, and at Stoddard Creek Campground near Dubois. In both instances, bears sought out food from campsites after finding unsecured food in garbage bins.

The bear at Stoddard Creek was captured and euthanized.

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