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Bear caught after found in barn

Sep 9, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

A grizzly bear was captured Thursday morning in Dubois morning after reportedly wandering into a barn on Bald Mountain Road on Wednesday.

Officials said they decided to catch the bear because he seemed "extremely comfortable" around people.

"We have no reports he was aggressive toward folks, (but) he was being really bold," said Brian DeBolt, large carnivore conflict coordinator for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in Lander.

The 3- to 4-year-old animal is being held in Dubois, but DeBolt said it likely will be transported to Lander soon. Officials will determine whether to release the bear back into the wilderness or euthanize it.

"We'll look at his history and the severity of conflicts we know he's been involved in and make a determination from there," DeBolt said, adding that the bear had been pinned with ear tags in the past. "Right now we're kind of in the middle of determining who he is, where he's been and what type of history he has."

If the animal has had multiple food rewards from people in the past, DeBolt said there is a chance it may be killed.

A resident called police at about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday to report the animal problem. According to initial reports, the woman said "there is a full-sized adult grizzly bear in her barn."

By the time officials arrived, DeBolt said the bear had exited the building and was walking along the Wind River west of town. He said the animal has been spotted along the river over the past several days.

At about 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, law enforcement was asked to provide crowd control at the scene, where DeBolt said people had gathered to try to spot the bear.

"He wasn't too far up the highway, and I think a local resident there made a lot of phone calls," he said. "There were a lot of onlookers, which made for a potentially dangerous situation. But luckily it was a really benign outcome."

His agency set out traps Wednesday but failed to capture the bear that night.

"He didn't seem very interested in that," DeBolt said. "So we did just dart him this morning when we saw him down by the river."

No one was injured during the incident, and DeBolt said the bear is safe and unharmed.

For more information, call the WGFD at 332-2688.

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