in Division Sights
|The Director of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources expressed regret about an incident in October in which a wildlife conservation officer killed a black bear in the Lost Springs campground in northeastern Utah.
"I regret the way in which this incident was handled," said Director Kevin Conway. "The officer clearly did not show an appropriate level of sensitivity to the animal or the people in the campground," he added.
"The decision to euthanize any animal is never taken lightly," said Conway. But he stressed that killing the bear was within the range of options allowed by current policy. He also said that he has committed to a full review of the agency's black bear policy.
"To those who are saying that the officer should be fired, that isn't appropriate based on the information I have now," said Conway. "The officer did not violate any state statute, Department of Human Resources Management rule or Division of Wildlife Resources policy. However, in this incident he did not perform in a manner consistent with our professional standards."
Conway said the officer involved, who he stressed has been an outstanding employee, will receive corrective action regarding the incident.
A team of Division of Wildlife Resources and Department of Natural Resources professionals from Salt Lake City headquarters, representing law enforcement, wildlife and human resources management, will meet with all employees involved later this week.
"I want to be sure that all Division of Wildlife Resources employees are properly trained in professional standards of conduct in all aspects of their jobs," said Conway.
Black bears throughout Utah have been suffering through the longest extended drought in decades. Dry conditions and the lack of berries and other natural forage for black bears have driven many into campgrounds in search of food.
During the summer, DWR officers and biologists have tranquilized and relocated several bears and three orphaned cubs have been transported to a rehabilitation center in Boise, Idaho. Currently, no wildlife rehabilitators in Utah have the proper facilities or are trained in the procedures required to successfully rear and reintroduce young bears back into the wild.
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