Whitesburg KY

Black bear kills boy after dragging him away from tent


An 11-year-old boy was dragged screaming from his family’s tent and killed by a black bear during a Father’s Day outing in the Utah wilderness.

The boy, his mother, stepfather and a 6-year-old brother were sleeping in a large tent Sunday night in American Fork Canyon, about 30 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, when the stepfather heard the boy scream “something’s dragging me.”

The boy and his sleeping bag were gone. The cut in the nylon tent was so clean, his family, who was not identified, first believed the boy had been abducted, U.S Forest Service officers said.

Wearing flip-flops and without a flashlight, the stepfather searched frantically for the boy and then drove a mile down a dirt road to a developed campground.

“He was pounding on my trailer door. He said somebody cut his tent and took his son,” said John Sheely, host of the Timpooneke campground, who alerted authorities by driving down the canyon to a pay phone.

The boy’s body was found about 400 yards away from the campsite, said Lt. Dennis Harris of the Utah County sheriff’s office.

Wildlife officers led by hound dogs killed the bear Monday. After the bear was shot, an examination of the remains confirmed that it was the killer, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said.

Authorities said the bear, as much as 300 pounds, probably was the same one harassing another group of campers in the same spot before dawn Sunday. Kurt Francom said his son, Jake, was kicked in the head through a tent wall.

“It could have been my boy,” said Francom, a school custodian.

Wildlife officers used 26 dogs to track the bear’s scent, shooting and wounding him. The creature wandered around wounded until officers shot and killed him several hours later.

Authorities said the death was Utah’s first fatal attack on a human by a black bear. It follows reports of several bear sightings during spring and occurred just hours after other people in the same primitive campsite likely encountered the same animal.

The attack occurred in American Fork Canyon, a popular camping destination with elevations as high as 11,000 feet.

“When it’s hot and dry like this, bears are short of food,” Karpowitz said.

Black bears, which are found in 27 states including Kentucky, are “generally less aggressive than other bears and don’t prey on humans,” said Stewart Breck, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Fort Collins, Colo.

The typical human-bear conflicts involve bears breaking into homes or cars.

“But it’s not breaking into a tent and killing,” Breck said.

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