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Bear who bit 13-year-old while he was camping found, euthanized

Southern Utah

In this photo provided by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources bear tracks are seen close to a campground along the Colorado River near Moab, Utah, Friday, Aug. 9, 2019. (Aaron Bott/The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources officials have located the black bear that bit a 13-year-old boy on the cheek at a campground near Moab.

According to a press release issued by the DWR, the incident happened Friday at the Dewey Bridge Campground along the Colorado River at about 5:45 a.m.

The 13-year-old boy was camping with a group and was sleeping on the ground near a riverside pavilion when the bear bit him. The teen received injuries to his left cheek and left ear and was taken to the hospital where he was treated and released. He is expected to make a full recovery. 

DWR conservation officers and biologists responded to the area and located the bear on Friday at 6:30 p.m. The bear was found within a mile of where the incident occurred and matched the size, color and tracks of the bear involved in the incident.

The bear also matched photos taken of a bear in the same area earlier in the week. 

The bear was euthanized and, on Monday, underwent a necropsy, an autopsy for animals, to do testing, including a test for rabies. The results will not be available until later in the week. 

The DWR said bears are euthanized when they do not exhibit a fear of people, per state policy.

However, the number of bears euthanized each year is quite small. Since 2014, there have been a reported 255 bear incidents that required action from DWR and, of those, less than 20% resulted in euthanization. 

“The majority of the time, we relocate black bears when there are nuisance situations where a black bear is getting into trash or food,” DWR mammals coordinator Darren DeBloois. “We primarily euthanize when it is a matter of public safety. We are so glad this young boy is doing OK, and we are confident we’ve located the bear that was involved in the incident. We got into the wildlife profession because we love wildlife, and we enjoy managing and protecting animals so Utahns can get outdoors and enjoy them.”

For more tips on staying safe around black bears, visit the DWR website and the Wild Aware Utah website.  

The Dewey Bridge Campground was temporarily closed while officials were locating the bear, but the Bureau of Land Management reopened it to the public on Monday. 

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