Game warden B.J. Thurman says, ‘Don’t worry about area bear’
By LAUREN VINCENT
• Daily Leader
One thing that is not expected while driving U.S. Highway 51 in Southwest Kansas is a casual black bear sighting.
Yet that is exactly the experience several people were afforded this past week.
“It’s true, there is a bear; but there’s no reason to get panicky,” said Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks Game Warden B.J. Thurman. “It’s just a bear, Colorado’s got millions of them.”
According to Thurman, the bear spotted in Stevens County has been around for several years.
“I don’t know if he’s making this his home or not,” he said. “It is unusual, I guess, but not for me because I’ve dealt with it for years. I call him ‘Boo-Boo.’ Every year, I say, ‘Boo-Boo’s back!’
“It’s been here about six or seven years, or more,” Thurman said. “It came over back when that fire hit New Mexico. It was just a cub at the time, probably a cub that a momma had run off. It was only 100 to 125 pounds at the time. It’s an adult now, and I’m pretty sure it’s the same one because it’s a cinnamon color with a chocolate face and chocolate socks. A cinnamon phase of a black bear is what it is.”
Uncertain as to if Boo-Boo is migratory or lives year round in the area, Thurman does know that this time of year is when it is most often seen.
“Every spring, people see it because it’s in the fields and eats the wheat so it’s very visible at those times,” he said. “Then nobody sees it, and I imagine what it does is hide in the corn.
“We don’t know if it comes in just for the wheat crop or if it’s living down on the Cimarron (River),” he said. “We have found some scat on the Cimarron. The old commissioner called me up one time and said, ‘We either got a really big ’coon or we got a bear,’ and I told him I was pretty sure it was that bear.”
There have not been any reports of the bear being destructive or coming near residents, and Thurman said it wants nothing to do with humans.
“This is the furthest east it’s ever been,” he reported. “It was over by the Hooker-Moscow Road last Monday or Tuesday. And Saturday, it was six miles west of Hugoton. So it moved about 15 miles. I imagine what that is, is someone saw it there and everyone was going out to take pictures. It doesn’t like people, so it started to move.
“That’s what happened the very first year it was here. The cub went through Morton County and travelled up into Grant County,” Thurman continued. “A land owner shooed it into his round-house barn and called the game warden up there. It got blown way out of proportion, and he was going to get a bear trap, but I told him to just let it be.
“They chased it all the way to Lamar, Colo., but he appeared back down here the next year,” he added.
Thurman said he has no concerns about the bear.
“It’s illegal to kill it, and it hasn’t caused anyone any problems,” he said. “Unless it does, I’m not going to worry about it too much.”
The unlikely tale of a black bear in Southwest Kansas has been confirmed but do not fear, it’s just “Boo-Boo.”