Black Bear Killed in Self-Defense Southwest of Big Horn

On July 1, 2021, at approximately 6 p.m., Game and Fish personnel received a report that a black bear had been shot and killed by a homeowner near Red Grade Road. The responding game warden interviewed the homeowner and investigated the scene. He determined the bear, an adult female, was killed in self-defense after charging the homeowner at less than 10 yards. The warden searched the surrounding area, but found no cached carcass, cubs or other resource that the bear might have been defending, which may have explained the aggressive behavior.

“Human-black bear encounters are rare and usually result in the bear fleeing the area,” said Sheridan Region Wildlife Supervisor Craig Smith. “However, this incident serves as a stark reminder that bears can be unpredictable and may exhibit aggressive behavior when they feel threatened.” Game and Fish personnel also responded to multiple other bear conflicts on July 1. That morning, a bear was reported accessing unsecured garbage at a cabin on the Bighorn National Forest. Another bear was reported in the backyard of a residence in Dayton. A third bear was reported accessing unsecured garbage at a residence west of Sheridan. It had accessed unsecured garbage at the same location the previous day.

The uptick in reported activity the past few days may be related to reduced natural food sources due to the hot, dry weather in recent weeks. It is not unusual for bears to move through areas of Sheridan County, but if drought conditions persist, conflicts may increase. “We need the public’s assistance, particularly rural homeowners and homeowners on the outskirts of Sheridan and other communities, to make the effort to keep garbage and other potential food sources out of the reach of bears,” said Smith. “The best way to do this is to keep your garbage in a hard-sided building until your scheduled day of trash pickup. Also, bears are accessing or trying to access other food sources near homes such as pet food, livestock or poultry grain left outside and bird seed. Homeowners should evaluate their property, identify possible attractants and secure them. Electric fences can be very effective in securing chicken coops, beehives, compost piles, vegetable gardens and other outside areas that may attract a bear.”

The Game and Fish website has several informational resources for people living or recreating in bear country to learn more about bear behavior and preventing conflicts at Any sightings of bears in residential or developed areas should be reported as soon as possible to the Game and Fish Regional Office at 307-672-7418 during regular business hours or to a local law enforcement agency.

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Olivia Cupant
2 months ago

There needs to be quick and significant consequences for humans who feed wildlife, who leave trash containers unsecured, and who otherwise encourage bears and other wildlife to not be afraid of humans. These encounters always end badly for the animal while the humans are free to continue their dangerous-to-wildlife ways.

joe kraudelt
18 days ago

On the CPW Bear Aware Team here in central Colorado and we have also seen an increase in bear reports the last week over earlier this summer.