A grizzly bear that liked to hang around the Garwood area last summer before being relocated to Boundary County near the Montana state line was euthanized last weekend after killing livestock north of Bonners Ferry.
Fish and Game and Wildlife Services employees set a snare near a residence not far from Copeland, Craig Walker of Idaho Fish and Game said. The bear had killed several sheep between Porthill and Copeland.
“It killed I think half a dozen sheep during last week,” Walker said.
The 3-year-old male grizzly, which weighed about 275 pounds when it was transported last summer as a 2-year-old, was euthanized to prevent it from returning to the area and killing more livestock, Walker said. The bear was captured near Garwood — south of Athol — in September after property owners there said the bear tried to get into chicken coops.
It was fitted with a tracking collar and released in the Cabinet Mountains along the Montana border in the Boulder Creek drainage area about 10 miles east of Bonners Ferry. It didn’t stay there long.
“It moseyed itself down to the orchards pretty quickly after we moved it,” wildlife biologist Laura Wolf said last October.
The bear gorged itself on fruit, and property owners worked with wildlife officials putting up electric fences to keep the bear away from the orchards.
The grizzly wandered the Kootenai River Valley and at one time last fall was located on an island in the river, where he evidently fed a hankering for chokecherries and elderberries.
“The bear seemed to get out of there, and then it hibernated,” Kiira Siitari of Fish and Game said.
Bears lose weight during hibernation. When they emerged from their dens they tend to eat whatever food is available, including carrion, and they often gorge themselves on grass, Walker said.
The Garwood grizzly began feeding on sheep near Porthill just south of the Canada-U.S. border last week and killed two 4-H lambs near Copeland, which is about halfway between Bonners Ferry and the border.
Because grizzlies are endangered, U.S. Fish and Wildlife works with local agencies including U.S. Wildlife Services from the Department of Agriculture and Fish and Game before determining whether a bear should be euthanized, Siitari said.
The bear had been moved once and seemed to be drawn to populated areas. Because it preyed on livestock, the departments opted to dispatch the animal.
“They made the decision to put him down,” Siitari said.
Grizzly bears in northern Boundary County are not rare occurrences, Fish and Game said. Grizzly bear conflicts with livestock in northern Idaho are relatively uncommon. The last reported incident in Idaho occurred several years ago.
In 2015, a woman in Boundary County killed a 2-year-old male grizzly bear she said threatened her family.
Barbara Casey said the grizzly was in her backyard at Moyie Springs, 10 miles northeast of Bonners Ferry, when it charged her horses. It moved toward her and her children, who were on the back porch trying to scare the grizzly away. Casey fired warning shots but the bear kept coming, so she shot to kill, according to news reports.
There are thought to be between 70 and 80 grizzly bears living in the adjacent Selkirk Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone, which surrounds Moyie Springs and Bonners Ferry and covers parts of Idaho, Washington and British Columbia.