FWP euthanized one of our North Fork bears this week. It was the right thing to do. There was hard evidence that this 315 pound female had broken into some trailers and was, in general, turning into a threat for humans living on the North Fork. There is also good reason to believe that this was Patti Bear.
Patti and her sister Betsy were first trapped as two year olds in late 2008. In November of that year, they found a dead deer and settled in to take advantage of a long feed. Unfortunately, this dead deer was on a hill overlooking human structures with lots of activity. So while the bears were munching, they got comfortable seeing humans about. FWP came up, trapped them both, tagged them, and performed a hard release.
Both Patti and Betsy have been living on the North Fork ever since. Their early habituation to humans, however, was reflected in how comfortable they were hanging around places on the NF, bringing their cubs close to structures, and occasionally getting into trouble. Trouble came in the form of dog food left outside, garbage, humming bird feeders, bird seed, dead ground squirrels, chickens, and other general attractants. And often folks were not be consistent about running her off the property when she got too close to structures. FWP was called in time and again to “work” Patti and her cubs.
And events escalated. Among other things, she went into an open carport and ate rat poison…. her second yearling probably died from that. She was repeatedly seen at homes on the Polebridge bench last fall, even up on porches. In other words, she accumulated a long list of offenses and probably had even more that were never reported.
Now for the result. Patti finally felt emboldened enough to rip into trailers on North Fork property. Unacceptable behavior, but it’s not her fault. This wasn’t a bear with bad behavior that’s been relocated to the North Fork. This is our own bear who we taught that it was OK to get close to humans and structures, and that food was to be had for the taking. FWP Bear Specialist Tim Manley has been warning us all for years that this was going to happen, and it finally did.
This was our bear, and we let her down.