Two years ago I was deer hunting in the Black Hills. A friend of mine showed me a trail cam photo of a black bear near Sundance, Wyoming, about 40 miles away. Another trail cam captured images of a bear in the heart of the Hills.

According to the Rapid City Journal, the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks confirmed that a black bear was indeed caught on camera July 5 near Rochford, 34 miles west of Rapid City.

The photos were captured by Jonathan Deuter or Black Hawk.

GF&P officers determined the photo was authentic by having Deuter take them to the site where the photo was shot. A slanting tree and other vegetation in the photo helped confirm the location and that the bear actually was in the Black Hills, not in a wooded area in another state, said John Kanta, GF&P regional wildlife manager.

"We have no reason not to believe the individual, but with everybody we like to ground truth (the photo) so we know what we're looking at," Kanta said.

Bears are native to the Black Hills, Kanta said. "Based on past experience, we believe (this bear) is moving on through," he said. "I won't be surprised if we have a bear hanging around (in the Hills), but to date we have not documented that."

Black bears historic range was nearly from coast to coast, with the exception of the desert southwest. Their range currently includes areas of Wyoming that can extend into the Black Hills of South Dakota.

If you encounter a black bear, stay away if you can. If you can't, make yourself as big and intimidating as possible. Yell at the bear aggressively. You will probably never see one in the Black Hills, but since they could potentially be there, it's good to know what to do.


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