By MIKE LYNCH
The state Department of Environmental Conservation killed a black bear at a Saranac Lake Islands Campground in the northern Adirondacks last week.
The 11-year-old bear was killed Aug. 21, after it stayed at a site for several hours, despite attempts from a conservation officer to haze it.
“Due to the bear’s persistent nuisance behavior, the decision was made to euthanize the bear in the interest of public safety,” DEC spokesman Dave Winchell said via email.
Bear activity has been extremely high this year in the Adirondacks. To date, DEC has received 350 complaints related to bears in DEC’s Region 5, which includes the majority of the Park including Hamilton, Franklin and Essex counties. Last year, there were only 115 complaints.
Nuisance bear activity has also been reported in the High Peaks Wilderness, around Marcy Dam and Lake Colden.
DEC did not say how many bears have had to be killed overall this season.
But the bear was known to DEC. It was originally captured at DEC’s Eighth Lake Campground in southwestern Hamilton County in 2016. Prior to its capture, the bear was raiding unsecured coolers and approaching people to obtain food. At that time, the bear was tagged and relocated to a remote location near Debar Mountain.
“The dry, hot weather most of the summer has led to a lack of natural food (for bears),” said Zoe Smith, who oversees the Wildlife Conservation Society Adirondack Program, in mid-August.
DEC warned that campers should continue to be careful with their food and garbage while camping on the Saranac lakes. “There are a few additional bears causing problems at the campground this summer,” Winchell wrote.
The Saranac Lake Islands Campground includes Middle Saranac Lake and Lower Saranac Lake in the northern Adirondacks. DEC’s statement on the incident did not state exactly where the bear was killed.
Smith said this is the first year she has heard of nuisance bear reports on the Saranac Chain of Lakes.
In response to the bear activity, DEC campground staff are renting bear resistant canisters and bear resistant coolers to campers who are on the north shore of both lakes. DEC campground staff and forest rangers have also stepped up efforts educate campers about avoiding nuisance bears.
Learn More About Adirondack Black Bears