2 bears killed in Glacier National Park

WEST GLACIER, Mont. (AP) - August 19, 2009

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 unintended death of this yearling grizzly is a very unfortunate outcome of a very difficult operation," Glacier Superintendent Chas Cartwright said Tuesday. "The National Park Service will conduct a thorough review of the cause of death of the yearling, but we are also relieved to have captured the other yearling."

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'll we don't work that way."

Over the years, bear managers have tried numerous ways to get the bear to stay away from people. But pepper spray, rubber bullets, specially trained dogs and other hazing efforts mostly failed. The bear did lay low in 2007 and 2008, but returned this summer and started following people around, Potter said.

This year, three separate incidents had been documented that could be classified as "repeatedly and purposefully approaching humans in a non-defensive situation," the park said.

The bear was demonstrating the same behavior Monday when she was shot and killed while approaching Oldman Lake campground, park officials said.

"Given the possibility that her offspring had learned this type of overly-familiar behavior and the diminished chance of their survival, we simply could not leave the yearlings in the wild," Cartwright said.

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