Poor Growing Conditions Bring Bears and Humans Closer Out West

From this AP story:
_Without their usual diet of berries and nuts as hibernation approaches, mama, papa and baby bears in the West are turning to cars and cabins and finding the leftovers are juuuust right. Huckleberries, nuts and pine cones are in short supply this year because of poor growing conditions, so bears have taken to breaking into cars, nosing around backyards and raiding orchards. And as happens when bears roam into towns, they end up trapped or dead. In New Mexico, 83 bears have been killed so far this year, more than three times as many as last year. It's all got wildlife officials from the Pacific Northwest down to New Mexico advising people to put away bird feed, stow trash and keep any other smelly objects under wraps.

__"They're going to be searching for food. Don't give them a freebie," said Rich Beausoleil, bear and cougar specialist at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The warnings come after a Michigan man was killed and two others injured when an undernourished grizzly and her three cubs marauded through a crowded campground in Yellowstone National Park near Cooke City, Mont., on July 28. The mother bear was euthanized, and the cubs were taken to a sanctuary, skinny and still wearing their ragged winter coats. A month earlier, a botanist in Wyoming was killed by a bear shortly after the animal woke up from being tranquilized by researchers.

A cool, wet spring across much of the region initially stunted development of grasses and wildflowers, which bears eat early in the season. The weather also dented the northern Rockies' huckleberry crop ˜ the main food for bears in mid-to-late summer. "We're getting people with cabins broken into," said Jim Hayden, Idaho Department of Fish and Game's regional wildlife manager. "Some of our officers are getting multiple calls per day. They can't keep up with them at all."_