GF&P Confirms Bear Sighting in Black Hills

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Game, Fish and Parks wildlife biologists have confirmed that it was a real bear that was caught on an automated game camera in the Black Hills last week. 

Bears are native to the Black Hills, but sightings of bears in the South Dakota Hills have been extremely rare for the past fifty years. 

Does the sighting mean they’re coming back? 

Jon Deuter has a trail cam set up near his family’s cabin between Rochford and Black Fox.  

“I’ve had a trail cam up in that area for about four years now. And it’s mostly for security for the cabin that’s up there,” said Jon Deuter of Deuter Photography.

Deuter said he hadn’t checked the camera for some time. Among the pictures of deer, turkeys, coyotes, and even mountain lions, Deuter said he was very surprised to find three pictures of what he believes to be a male black bear.

Game, Fish and Parks officials say they believe the pictures are genuine. 

“So we did go to the location and confirmed that it was a picture taken in the Black Hills, ” said John Kanta, Game, Fish, and Parks Regional Supervisor

Game, Fish and Parks personnel call the bear a “tourist”, meaning he is simply moving thorugh the Hills and moving on. Kanta says the public shouldn’t be alarmed.  

“Folks should just be aware that bears are starting to occur here just as we have mountain lions in the Hills. So really we can treat them about the same way,” said Kanta. 

That means use caution around them. Kanta also says if you see a bear in the Black Hills, contact the GF&P.

“Give it it’s distance. Don’t approach it. Report it to us right away so we can document it,” he said. 

Deuter says there have been bear sightings off and on for years near his cabin. His Dad’s sister even spotted one.

“And nobody believed her. And the next day someone had shot one, and that about 1968 or so,” Deuter said. 

Fifty years later, the Deuter family had another encounter with a Black Hills bear, and this time Jon got it on camera. 

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