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Bear Euthanized After Reportedly Biting Idaho Firefighter

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Black bears cause more trouble in the fall as they rummage for food in populated areas, trying to fatten up for winter. - IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME
  • Idaho Department of Fish and Game
  • Black bears cause more trouble in the fall as they rummage for food in populated areas, trying to fatten up for winter.
There can't be many worse ways to get woken up than to have a bear biting at you in your sleeping bag. That's exactly what happened to a wildland firefighter in the McCall area on the night of Sept. 1, according to a news release from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. He slept in his bivvy sack—a small waterproof shell that zips over one's sleeping bag—when the black bear gave him a bite.

The next day, Fish and Game officials trapped a bear within a half-mile of the fire camp that matched the description involved in the biting incident. Fish and Game will try to scrape enough DNA from the bivvy sack to tell if its the same bear that bit the firefighter, but it's uncertain whether there's enough DNA on the sack to get a match.

The firefighter was taken to the hospital after the incident and treated for minor wounds, then released and returned to work. 

Fish and Game has had a slew of reports in the area from a bear raiding garbage cans and causing property damage. A trap was already set for the bear before the biting incident, but Fish and Game wasn't able to catch it until Sept. 2.

To keep bear interactions to a minimum, residents are encouraged to keep garbage and pet food inside garages or sheds and to stop feeding birds if bears are in the area. Outdoor recreationists should keep coolers and food storage containers away from bears and inside vehicles, and never stored in a tent. Food preparation should be done far away from sleeping spots. When camping, food can be hung at least 10 feet off the ground and four feet from the nearest trunk—again, away from sleeping areas. Personal hygiene products such as toothpaste and deodorant can also attract bears.

According to Fish and Game's southwest region supervisor Scott Reinecker, bear complaints are common in the late summer and fall as bears fatten up for the winter.

"We have responded to several calls of bears in town in the McCall area," Reinecker said. "Most, if not all, can be attributed to the availability of food."