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Wandering Black Bear Killed in Nebraska Barn

May 14, 2008.

From the Nebraska Department of Game and Fish:

A male 1½- to 2-year-old black bear that had wandered through Harrison in Sioux County on Monday, May 12, was euthanized by Nebraska Game and Parks Commission personnel.

Jeff Hoffman, assistant administrator of the Wildlife Division, said the bear wandered through Harrison, then traveled 4 miles north to a ranch, where it entered a barn. The owner of the ranch shut the door to the barn keeping it there until Commission personnel arrived.

The decision was made to euthanize the bear because it was not acting normally and appeared to be accustomed to humans.

Once large predators such as bears or mountain lions become acclimated to humans, problems can arise such as preying on livestock, pets or confrontations with humans, Hoffman said.

Darting and relocating the bear was not considered an option because Nebraska has no large tracts to of public lands upon which to relocate bears, which require large home ranges. The bear likely would have ended up on private land, potentially in contact with humans or livestock. Past attempts to place black bears in Nebraska zoos have been unsuccessful, according to Hoffman.

The bear weighed approximately 125-150 pounds. Hoffman said it possibly wandered into Nebraska from Wyoming or South Dakota, which support populations of black bears.

This is the third sighting of black bears in Nebraska in recent years. In 2000 a bear was sighted in Banner County near Harrisburg and in 2002 a bear was sighted in Scotts Bluff County near Henry. These bears avoided contact with humans and were allowed to travel out of the state.

“Our policy pertaining to large predators like bears or mountain lions is if they do not come in contact with humans or livestock, we let them continue to travel through the area,” Hoffman said. “If contact is made, euthanization may be the only feasible option.”


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