Boy Scout leader under investigation in bear death

AP News
Posted: Jul 12, 2013 6:25 PM

KAMAS, Utah (AP) — A Boy Scout camp director in Utah shot and killed a black bear that wandered too close to campers after someone left a bag of a candy bars on top of a picnic table.

The shooting is under investigation by wildlife officials, who visited the camp earlier on the day of the shooting to warn Scouts about bear safety, including the need to leave a clean camp and to properly store all food and trash.

Jodie Anderson, spokeswoman for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, declined to speculate on what possible charges the camp director could face. He was not identified.

"Right now, our law enforcement is hoping to finish up the investigation," she told The Salt Lake Tribune. "Once it's completed, we'll turn it over to the county attorney."

Rick Barnes, head of the Boys Scouts of America's Great Salt Lake Council, said the camp director was called to the site and found the bear eating a bag of candy bars.

The bear wouldn't leave when attempts were made to shoo it away, Barnes said, and the decision was made to shoot the animal out of concern for the safety of about 500 Scouts in the camp. The bear was shot three times.

The troop that left the food out was asked to leave Hinckley Scout Ranch on Thursday and won't be allowed to return until next year, Barnes said.

"They put the whole camp at risk and so we sent them home," he told the Deseret News.

The weeklong camp began Monday at the 600-acre site on the east fork of the Bear River on the north slope of the Uinta Mountains.

Wildlife officials visited the camp to warn Scouts about bear safety after a bruin matching the description of the dead bear had been sighted at the camp last weekend.

"The bear had come into the camp a couple of different times, just for the fact that the camp had not been taken care of the way that it should have," Anderson said. "Once a bear has a taste of that food and knows he has an opportunity to have more, he'll keep coming back."

Among other tips, wildlife officials urge the public to clean up all trash thoroughly, to store all trash and food in a bear-safe container, to wipe down all eating surfaces and never to store food in a tent.