Idaho Grizzly Bear Mom and Cub Caught and Killed After Seeking Human Food

An Idaho grizzly bear mom and her cub have been put down after they acquired a taste for human food.

The two bears were euthanized in the interest of "human safety," after they became conditioned to approaching residential areas of Island Park in search of human food, Idaho Fish and Game said in a statement.

They adopted the behavior after being offered "multiple food rewards" in the form of unsecured garbage cans and vehicles. Idaho Fish and Game said some food was also made available on porches.

The bears had been a problem since 2020, Idaho Fish and Game said. After several conflicts relating to food, the two bears were relocated. However, they continued to seek out human food.

"This spring, the pair displayed similar behavior. Due to the pair's dependence on human food and habituation to residential areas, they were captured and euthanized in the interest of human safety," Idaho Fish and Game said in a statement.

Grizzly bears used to live everywhere in Idaho. However, they are now only found in the northern part and eastern parts of the state, near Yellowstone National Park.

Grizzly bear
A picture shows a grizzly bear in Yellowstone national park. They can become dangerous if they become used to human food. William Campbell/Getty Images

Island Park is home to a grizzly bear and black bear population, and residents are "strongly encouraged" to keep food sources locked up. Idaho Fish and Game also advises residents not to put garbage containers out the night before they are collected, as this can attract grizzly bears to the area.

The department said bears are "extremely adaptable" and can "learn very quickly to associate people with food."

Human food is a large cause of human and bear conflicts across the U.S.

Bears that become food-conditioned "rapidly lose their fear of humans," which can cause them to be bolder in approaching people in order to obtain food.

Grizzly bears are infamous for being aggressive. However, most will back away if they feel threatened.

According to the National Park Service, food-conditioned bears are not "problem bears," they are the "result of improperly stores food."

Food-conditioned bears will often stop foraging naturally in order to seek out human food sources. Bears, as opportunistic hunters, prefer nutritious food that is more readily available. Human food will typically contain more calories, meaning bears can eat less of it and feel full—making it an easy food source.

Grizzly bears in Idaho are a federally protected species under the Endangered Species Act, however the Fish and Game department, along with the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, will euthanize bears that become a threat to human safety.