UPDATE from DEC Region 5: “Due to a documented escalation of the bear’s aggressive behavior since 2018, DEC determined the bear was a threat to public safety and humanely euthanized the animal following appropriate protocols.”
By Brandon Loomis
The doomed Adirondack bear who shut down Lake Colden-area camping would not be deterred.
Properly stored camp food didn’t keep him from inspecting every parcel.
Campers’ clapping and shouting couldn’t keep him from poking his nose into and around the tents.
Rubber bullets did not keep him away for long.
“He wouldn’t give up,” backpacker Jordan Meeder, of Perkasie, Pennsylvania, said on the morning of July 4 at the lake’s wooden dam, where other campers gathered to cook away from their tent sites.
On Monday morning the state captured the large male black bear at Marcy Dam and planned to kill it because of its strong conditioning to human foods.
“It’s too aggressive,” New York State Department of Environmental Conservation spokesman David Winchell said.
The Adirondack Explorer was encamped at Colden on the night of July 3, and had a brief personal visit from the bear that evening. At that time a ranger was in pursuit, hazing it by clacking hiking sticks together, and the bear ambled across the Opalescent River, allowing for a fleeting video snippet of its retreat.
Some 20 minutes later, one of three assembled rangers shot the bear with rubber ammunition to haze it away for the core of the camping zone. It took three shots to move the bear downstream. He returned in the morning, methodically inspecting camp after camp and moving along after finding the campers’ required plastic food canisters locked. Rangers said then that they hoped to push it toward Marcy Dam, where Winchell later said the bear wound up in a trap by Monday morning.
Three young men on Saturday described the bear’s visit to their camp the night before, just as they had started eating dinner. The bear walked past them and the food in their hands, and instead examined their tent.
Meeder described a tenser confrontation with the bear on that same evening, when it approached growling and hissing at him and hiking partner Heidi Stevenson, of Souderton, Pennsylvania. They tried to yell and wave it away, but the bear wouldn’t leave until it had sniffed every pack.
“It was a little scary,” Stevenson said, “but also interesting.”
The incident did not deter them from planning to stay another night, their food stored securely away from camp, and they used Colden as a base from which to hike Algonquin Peak on the holiday. DEC then closed the area to camping on Sunday, and announced late Monday afternoon that it was reopening.
The capture comes after a successful raid – by the same bear, Winchell said – on campers’ food at the nearby Calamity Brook lean-to earlier last week.
The state requires campers to use bear-resistant canisters to store food in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness, which includes Lake Colden. The department released a statement advising campers to be especially careful starting in June, when yearling bears seek out their own territories and may wander through areas where they smell and get hooked on human food sources.
For information about avoiding bear conflicts, visit DEC’s website.