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...
AMERICAN FORK, Utah — 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 that 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.
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“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 tracking dogs killed a 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, which weighed 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.
Authorities said the death was Utah’s first fatal attack on a human by a black bear.
American Fork Canyon, where the attack occurred, is 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,” said Jim Karpowitz, director of wildlife resources.
In May, officials reported black bears in Provo Canyon and Park City, including one that ripped through a screen door at a cabin.
Black bears, which are found in 27 states, are “generally less-aggressive than other bears,” said Stewart Breck, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Fort Collins, Colo.