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Boy receives ‘scratches’ from bear in Utah canyon; animal tracked and killed

SHARE Boy receives ‘scratches’ from bear in Utah canyon; animal tracked and killed

SPRINGVILLE — A Boy Scout in a tent received "minor scratches" when a bear entered his campsite early Tuesday morning.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said the 150-pound black bear, believed to be about 2 years old, was tracked down and euthanized. The bear was found in a tree just 400 feet away from the campsite.

The incident happened about 6 a.m. in the left fork of Hobble Creek Canyon, near the top of the canyon on private property, according to a statement from the wildlife agency. The boy was part of a Boy Scout group that was camping. There were six tents set up in the campground.

"This particular boy's tent was about 150 yards away from the other tents in some kind of thick oak brush," according to DWR spokeswoman Faith Heaton Jolley.

The bear entered the campsite and "disturbed" a tent, leaving the Scout with scratches on his back, wildlife officials noted. The boy, who was not identified, was not hospitalized and did not require stitches, Jolley said.

The bear ran away after the boy began making noise. Wildlife officials brought dogs to the scene and they picked up the scent of the bear from the tent and tracked it to the tree.

Jolley did not know the exact age of the boy, but said the Scouts in the troop were all either 12 or 13.

Wildlife officials said Scout leaders did everything right and did not keep food in the tents or out and about at their campsite.

"The whole campsite was clean," Jolley said.

Officials believe the bear may have just been curious. But because a boy was injured and the bear appeared to have no fear of humans, Jolley said it is department policy to euthanize the animal "out of safety."

The area where the incident occurred is known for having bears. Jolley said because of the long winter, more bears are waking up from hibernation later than in years past and looking for food. She encouraged all campers and hikers to be safe in bear country, particularly by taking precautions with food storage.

Bear attacks in Utah are actually rare, according to wildlife officials. Though in 2009, there was an unsually high number of seven black bears shot and killed after they got too close to Utah campers or properties, including five killed in 12 days.

In 2007, an 11-year-old Pleasant Grove boy was dragged from his tent by a bear while camping in American Fork Canyon and killed. It was the first fatal bear attack in Utah history, officials said.

In 2011, several bear sightings prompted wildlife officials to post warnings in the area near the Hobble Creek Golf Course and Kelly's Grove campground in Spingville.

Correction: An earlier version said the boy was camping with his family. He was with a Scouting group.