Hungry Bears Plaguing Towns From Coast to Coast

"Once they get people food, they don't want to go anywhere else," official says.

ByABC News
September 4, 2010, 10:34 PM

Sept. 5, 2010— -- Bears know what they want and know where to get it and increasingly that's getting them in trouble.

From California and Colorado to New Jersey and Florida, bears are coming out of the woods and finding their way into people's cars, campsites and homes looking for food.

"Once they get people food, they don't want to go anywhere else," California Department of Fish and Game spokesman Jason Holley told ABC San Francisco station KGO-TV this week after Fish and Game officers euthanized a mother black bear that had been hanging around a campground in the Tahoe Basin.

The incidents with the bear escalated until it took a swipe at a man and injured his arm. The bear ran off, but was later identified from DNA that it left on a yogurt cup at the campsite, according to KGO.

The bear's cub was also caught, but Fish and Game officials have not yet decided what actions to take.

The attack was the most recent in a summer that has seen a rash of bear break-ins and confrontations in the Tahoe area.

"We've had nine or ten of the same sort of calls where a bear has made harmful contact with a person," Holley said.

In a normal summer, he told KGO, they would get one or two calls.

While Fish and Game officials say the killing of the problem bear could make the Labor Day weekend a little safer for visitors, some people said they feel for the bears, too.

"We're invading them and I just think it's a shame they did that," Catherine Lutz, who is spending the weekend in the area with her family, told KGO.

That's a view shared by animal rights groups, who say that people need to take responsibility by making sure that food is not left out where bears can be tempted.

"You have to keep that locked up, you have to keep that in a way that's bear-proof because otherwise, your desire to be in nature and be among these kinds of animals could lead to this tragic situation," Humane Society spokeswoman Jennifer Fearing told KGO.

The story is similar in Colorado Springs, Colo., where this past week state wildlife officials killed six black bears -- two mothers, each with two cubs -- that broke into two different homes.