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Game and Fish rules June bear shooting legit

Jul 13, 2017 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

A black bear was shot and likely killed recently after it was spotted getting into a beekeeper's hives near Crowheart, state authorities have announced.

The incident took place just before 1 p.m. Sunday, June 11, when a property owner called law enforcement to report that "trespassers" had shot a bear.

Wyoming Game and Fish officials said the shooter wasn't actually trespassing, however: The individual worked for a beekeeper who had permission to check the hives on the property.

"(It was) a big misunderstanding," WGFD information and education specialist Rene Schell said.

"(The beekeeper) forgot to tell the landowner he was going to be there."

The beekeeper also failed to mention that a bear had been depredating the hives, she said.

The problem is a common one in Wyoming.

"(The bears) go to eat the bees, and the honey is a treat," Schell explained. "Once they find it, they get that sweet reward, and they (come) back."

Her agency frequently supplies beekeepers with electric fencing that can be used to deter honey-seeking bears, but Schell said it's also legal to shoot and kill the animals if they are destroying private property.

"Everything was on the up and up," she said of last month's incident.

The bear was not killed immediately, Schell continued, but it left a "heavy blood trail" behind as it fled the scene, and officials assume it has since died.

They chose not to track the animal, she said, because it headed into an area of "thick, thick willows" nearby.

"It was a dangerous place to go on hands and knees crawling to find a bear," she said.

"(The game warden) put it on the beekeepers ... to basically track the bear if they wanted to. He said he's not heard from them."

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