Monday, June 1, 2020
Bears Looking for Curbside Take-Out Near Ketchum
A bear checks out a bear-resistant garbage dumpster. PHOTO: Jeff Rohlman, Idaho Fish and Game
Wednesday, May 13, 2020


Remember when mountain lions attacking dogs was our biggest fear in the Wood River Valley?

Now, in addition to the coronavirus, black bears are roaming Sun Valley-area neighborhoods looking for easy pickings. And they’re ahead of schedule.

Residents south of Ketchum have been reporting black bears roaming their neighborhoods and getting into garbage cans and bird feeders.

A bear walks through a backyard neighborhood. PHOTO: Jeff Rohlman, Idaho Fish and Game

Since late April Idaho Fish and Game has received four reports about bears helping themselves to the smorgasbords in residential garbage cans, topping their main meals off with dessert at the bird seed and hummingbird feeders.

Last year the first reports of bears getting into Wood River Valley trash cans did not occur until mid-July.

This year’s low snowpack and very dry spring conditions may be the reason they’re making an early appearance, said Senior Conservation Officer Brandyn Hurd.

“These bears, using their incredible sense of smell, are attracted to area neighborhoods because some residents are leaving their garbage cans unsecured, making them easy targets for bears looking to get a quick meal,” he added.

Bears’ sense of smell is seven times better than a bloodhound’s—they can smell for miles. So, if you put that half-eaten plate of lasagna in the trash can, you know who’s coming for dinner.

Bears have only recently emerged from their dens. And they’re very hungry.

After spending months in hibernation, they immediately start looking for food, mostly spring grasses. But anything that provides easy calories look good to boars, or male black bears, who can lose 15 to 30 percent of their body weight during hibernation. Sows with cubs are likely even more ravenous, as they can lose up to 40 percent of their body weight.

And nothing short of 15,000 to 20,000 calories a day will do as they build up their fat reserves.

Unsecured residential and business garbage containers lead to bears become food-habituated, said Hurd. And a fed bear is a dead bear.

“It never ends well for the bear that becomes habituated to human food,” he said. “A bear that has developed a repeated habit of searching out and acquiring food from human sources is a threat to public safety and will be trapped or darted with an anesthetizing drug and then euthanized.”

Relocation of a food-habituated bear is not an option. Often, such bears return to where they were trapped because they know there is a food reward there.

While local restaurants are practicing curbside delivery, residents are asked not to do the same. Keep your garbage cans in a secure location, such as a garage or shed, until the morning of pickup.

Do not leave garbage cans on the curb the night before trash pickup.

If you do see a bear, let it know it’s not welcome by yelling, clapping your hands and banging on pots and pans to scare it away. Generally, bears quickly learn they’re not welcome and will leave never to return again.

Use a bear-resistant garbage container when possible.

Take bird feeders down during summer months—birds don’t actually need them because of an abundance of natural food sources.

Don’t leave pet food out.

Put an electric fence wire around chicken coops and bee hives.

For more information, call 208-324-4359.


Two mountain lion kittens were recently trapped north of Hailey after they were found to be in a neighborhood for several days without an adult female. They have been placed in an accredited zoo in San Diego, Calif. Both were female; they weighed 18 pounds.

They were too young to forage and live on their own without a female lion, said Regional Wildlife biologist Sierra Robatcek. Kittens typically stay with the female for 12 to 18 months.

An adult mountain lion was euthanized after being sighted on a homeowner’s porch east of Kimberly a couple weeks ago. The homeowner said the lion showed no fear, even though he yelled repeatedly. Instead, it hissed and took an aggressive posture.

A lion had been observed on the porch of a home in Kimberly the day before.

Officers had hoped to haze the lion since it was near mountain lion habitat in the South Hills. But it was not exhibiting normal lion behavior so they decided to euthanize the lion.


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