Bear cub fed, used for selfies by tourists is killed by officials for becoming 'way too habituated' to humans
A black bear cub was shot by wildlife officials in Oregon after multiple interactions with tourists caused the juvenile creature to become too habituated to humans, according to local authorities.
The Washington County Sheriff's Office (WCSO) and the Oregon Department of Fish were first alerted to the young male cub's presence in Scoggins Valley Park near Henry Hagg Lake on June 4 through multiple phone calls and social media posts, according to the Salem Statesman Journal.
The outlet reports that the 100-pound bear, which was between 2 and 3 years old, had been fed by and used for selfies by boating crowds who flocked to the lake all week long to enjoy the nice weather.
WCSO took to Twitter on the evening of June 12 to warn park guests to stay away from a boat ramp that the bear was lingering near as they attempted to coax it back into the woods.
About an hour later, the sheriff's office shared that their attempts had been successful and the cub had "wandered back into the woods."
Wildlife biologists Kurt License and Doug Kitchen set out last week to trap and relocate the cub when they were informed the creature was on a nearby highway eating a mix of trail mix, sunflower seeds and cracked corn that visitors had left for it. When the pair approached the animal, it did not try to run away.
"It was very clear that the animal was way too habituated," License told the Statesman Journal. "With that information, it was a human health and safety risk, and we had to remove it."
On Friday morning, WCSO took to Facebook to share that the bear had to be killed as a "direct result of humans feeding and interacting" with it.
"We're sad to report that the bear was "lethally removed" by the Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife on Wednesday morning," it wrote. "Unfortunately, the wildlife experts say relocation wasn't an option for this bear. We are saddened by the outcome, but leave it to the experts when it comes to these kinds of tough decisions."
Habituation happens when animals are exposed to the same unnatural stimuli so frequently that they eventually stop responding to it, according to the U.S. National Park Service.
Although wild animals should have a natural fear of humans, many that are constantly exposed to people lose their fear and stop acting naturally around them, which frequently happens in heavily trafficked national parks like the Grand Canyon.
When wild animals no longer see humans as a threat, they allow people to come very close to them, which can prove dangerous and sometimes fatal for both animals and people.