MOUNTAIN GREEN -- Bloodhounds could not catch the scent of a bear reported to have snatched a goat from a backyard in the Monte Verde area Monday night.
The homeowner heard a commotion in his yard about 9 p.m. and came out to learn one of his pygmy goats was missing, said Kevin Edwards, Morgan County chief deputy sheriff.
A few minutes later, the racket resumed, and the homeowner found a black bear trying to get into the goats' pen.
At first, the owner tried to scare off the bear with loud noises, including firing a warning shot, said Jonathan Moser, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officer.
When the bear ignored warnings and kept trying to get into the pen, the owner shot the bear with a .45-caliber pistol.
The bear dropped the second goat and fled, bleeding, into the darkness, heading toward the Strawberry Creek drainage area.
"They could hear it up there rumbling around in the brush, but it was too dangerous to do anything in the night," Edwards said.
Officials began searching for the bear with bloodhounds Tuesday morning but were not able to locate the animal.
"The scent burns off so fast, dogs have a hard time finding it," Moser said. "If the guy hit it, it's probably just holed up somewhere and will probably just die."
There have not been any recent reports of missing pets or raided trash cans in the area, he said, but wild animals have behaved out of character in general this year because of the late winter and wet weather.
The homeowner's action appeared to be a legitimate protection of life and property, Moser said.
Asked if it could be the same bear spotted earlier this summer in Ogden Canyon, Moser said it was "not inconceivable. Bears are really nomadic."
Julie Young, project leader at the Predator Research Facility in Logan, said bear confrontations are not as common in Utah as they are in areas with bigger bear populations.
However, confrontations increase as people keep more animals in their yards, such as chickens, pigs or goats.
"We are providing an easy source of food if we don't protect them overnight to keep them away from predators," Young said.
People should be mindful of their animals, keeping them in protective structures to keep them away from bears and other predators -- such as coyotes and even mountain lions -- that make Utah their home, she said.
"We live in a state with a lot of public wild lands and all of the predators are out there."
If you encounter a bear
- Stand your ground. Never back up, lie down or play dead. Stay calm and give the bear a chance to leave. Prepare to use your bear spray or another deterrent.
- Don't run away or climb a tree. Black bears (seen here) are excellent climbers and can run up to 35 mph -- you cannot outclimb or outrun them.
- Know bear behavior. If a bear stands up, grunts, moans or makes other sounds, it's not being aggressive. These are the ways a bear gets a better look or smell and expresses its interest.
- If a bear enters your yard, give it an obvious escape route -- do not corner it. Black bears can quickly inflict thousands of dollars in property damage.
For more information on handling bear encounters, call 801-476-2740.
Source: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources