DEC kills bear at campground

50+ incidents were reported there this summer, with multiple bears involved

SARANAC LAKE — More than 50 incidents involving bears have been reported at Saranac Islands state campground this summer, but one bruin that would not leave a campsite was euthanized last week.

Despite the bear being put down by state Department of Environmental Conservation staff on Aug. 21, the DEC says numerous bears are getting into campers’ wares and that the loss of one does not mean campers are in the clear.

DEC spokesman David Winchell said the bear that was killed could not be driven from a campsite despite several hours of effort. He said DEC police “hazed” the bear by hitting it with rubber projectiles to try to get it to leave, but it did not.

“Due to the bear’s persistent nuisance behavior, the decision was made to euthanize the bear in the interest of public safety,” Winchell wrote in an email.

This was not this particular bear’s first run-in with DEC officers. Winchell said the bear, which was 11 years old, had been moved to the northern Adirondacks after repeated incidents elsewhere.

“The bear was originally captured in 2016 at DEC’s Eighth Lake Campground in southwestern Hamilton County,” Winchell wrote. “Prior to its capture, the bear was raiding unsecured coolers and approaching people to obtain food. At that time, the bear was tagged and relocated to a remote location near Debar Mountain [in the town of Duane, Franklin County].

“Currently we rarely relocate bears as they often return to the place where they are captured or become a problem somewhere else.”

Winchell said that within DEC’s Region 5, which covers most of the Adirondack Park and northeastern New York, about a half-dozen bears are euthanized each year. Many of them are killed not because they are robbing people but because they are sick with “severe cases of mange.”

Winchell said the DEC is still working with campers and campground staff to educate the public on how to reduce the chances of a bear incident.

Last week, Winchell said that throughout Region 5, the DEC has received 330 reports of bear incidents, which the department said is higher than usual. Dry weather earlier this summer has led to a food shortage, driving more bears to look to humans’ provisions for easy meals.

Campers are advised to keep their campsites clean and food secured. Cooking and washing should be done away from the campsite, and if approached, the DEC says to “make noise and back away slowly; NEVER run. Bear spray is an option for close encounters; keep it on your person and accessible at all times.”

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