Authorities shoot to death bear that fatally mauled 11-year-old
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A story Tuesday misspelled the last name of Brad Rawlins, a spokesman for the family of 11-year-old Samuel Ives, who was killed by a bear Sunday in American Fork Canyon.

Posted: 11:59 AM- AMERICAN FORK CANYON - The barking hounds told Luke Osborn the bear was near. After hours of trudging up and down a mountain, through thick forests and soft dirt, Osborn and his fellow hunters were closing in.

Then, 10 yards away, he could see five hounds snapping at the bear. Osborn, a federal predator-control hunter, raised his .243-caliber rifle and fired a round into the base of its neck.

With that, the hunt for Utah's first documented killer black bear was over.

The bear is believed to have dragged 11-year-old Samuel Ives from his tent about 11:10 p.m. Sunday. The boy's family - his mother, stepfather and a 6-year-old brother - heard the boy's scream "something's dragging me" and rushed to help, but he and his sleeping bag were already gone.

His family thought the boy was abducted because the tear in the tent was so clean, said U.S. Forest Service officers. Wearing flip-flops and without a flashlight, the stepfather searched frantically for the boy and 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," John Sheely, host of the Timpooneke campground, told the Associated Press. Sheely alerted authorities by driving down the canyon to a pay phone.

It became clear there had been no kidnapping when searchers followed bear tracks into the forest and about 11:35 p.m. found the Samuel's remains - about 400 yards away from the family's shredded tent.

"The mother was broken up in tears and hanging onto to the other boy," Sheely said.

An Ives family spokesman, Brad Rawlins, said the family is still in shock. He declined to give any more details about Samuel or his family, other than to say they are from Utah County.

The campsite is approximately 11 miles up American Fork Canyon and two miles above the paved road from the Timpooneke campground - some distance away from the developed portion of the campground.

According to Scott Root, a manager for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, the bear likely was attracted to the campsite by food.

"He wasn't trying to get a kid; he probably smelled something" in the tent, on the boy's sleeping bag, or on the boy himself, Root said.

Still, it was the second attack Sunday in the same camping spot.

American Fork resident Jake Francom said a black bear swatted at his tent about 5:30 a.m. The bear hit him twice in the face through the tent wall before he woke up and realized what was happening.

"The first two [swats] were just kind of a feel," Francom said.

The bear struck again, hitting him in the head and knocking him to the ground. He said he felt the bear's claws.

"When he saw me move in there, he gave it hell," Francom said. "The sucker struck right through the tent and tore my pillow.

Francom yelled to his friend, "Troy, get your gun!"

Troy Strode woke, pulled a 9 mm handgun and shot into the air. The bear started running toward a hill about 50 yards away as Strode fired about six shots. Francom quickly put his girlfriend and Strode's girlfriend in his truck.

Then the bear returned to the crest of the hill. "It just stared at us for about 30 seconds," Francom said.

Francom's brother, Kip, threw rocks at the animal and it walked away.

Osborn, a wildlife specialist with Wildlife Services, and his dogs were dispatched to the mountain Sunday to search for the bear that attacked Francom.

But Osborn, who specializes in hunting bears and keeps nine trained hounds, could not find it and gave up after about five hours.

He and a small-legion of rangers and wildlife workers received another call again early Monday. They were told there had been another bear attack, but they didn't learn a boy had died until they arrived at the campground.

"There was a whole new meaning to this," Osborn said. A bear "killing a person is different. I've killed a lot for killing livestock. But [a bear's] killing a kid is a whole new program."

About 2 a.m., the first hounds began sniffing the attack site, then were let free. The hunters followed in the rugged, steep mountainsides and through dense trees and brush - all in the dark.

"You just kind of listen for the dogs and hope they're going in the right direction," said Chad Bettridge, a conservation officer for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. In all, 27 dogs were used in the hunt.

The hunters said they were close to the bear several times, but their first strike against him came about 7 a.m. The bear was upright in a tree with dogs nipping just inches below him, Osborn said.

Then John Childs, a volunteer bear tracker, fired a .35-caliber Remington bullet into the bear's left shoulder. The bear dropped out of the tree and ran away, leaving a blood trail behind him.

About 8 a.m., the hunters could not hear the dogs and the hounds' radio collars indicated they were not moving. The hunters thought the bear might be dead and the hounds were sitting with him.

Then some hunters spotted the bear moving, and the chase resumed.

About 11:15 a.m. - nine hours into the search - the dogs had the bear cornered, on a slope with trees and brush so thick in places that the hunters could not see 3 feet in front of them.

But Osborn found a sight line and made his shot. When the bear fell, he began shouting "Yahoo!" The cheer echoed through the canyon. Osborn cheered again when a Utah Highway Patrol helicopter hoisted the bear out of the canyon.

Authorities confirmed later in the day that it was the same bear that attacked Samuel Ives, said DWR Director Jim Karpowitz, who declined to say how the confirmation was made.

Although they felt a sense of satisfaction for catching the bear, Osborn and the other hunters said they spent the chase thinking of the boy and his family.

"I don't think killing that bear will put [the family] at ease," Bettridge said. "Their loss is way too great. Killing that bear puts everybody else at ease."

Once the bear was hoisted away, the hunting party and dogs hiked some more. Getting off the mountainside required an hour hike down.

It was about 2 p.m. before the hunters returned to the road and could begin to rest.

Bettridge was one of the hunters who got a ride up the canyon to retrieve his truck. On the road, he passed bicyclists, campers and two women walking dogs. They smiled as Bettridge passed.

"Everything's back to normal," Bettridge said.

Though he was nearly mauled, Francom said he will return to American Fork Canyon. His family has been camping ithere since he was a kid and he goes up there to get away from the city several weekends a month.

Until Sunday, "I've never encountered a bear up there in my life."