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Millcreek Canyon bear sighting has hikers on alert

This undated photograph provided by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources shows a black bear. Wildlife officials say reports of bears coming down from the mountains and rummaging through backyard and campgrounds throughout Utah have nearly doubled in 2019. (Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY — It’s no secret black bears make northern Utah their home, but it’s rare to have one reported up Millcreek Canyon, with its trails popular especially among bikers and hikers with dogs.

Still, Alexis Croghan says that’s exactly what happened to her on Tuesday night.

Croghan says she, a friend and her dog were hiking up to Dog Lake at sunset but decided to head back down before it got too dark. On their way down, another group of hikers reported they had seen a bear on the Little Water trail.

“[They] were coming back up the trail, really panicked and freaked out,” Croghan said.

That group reported they fired a warning shot at the bear, which charged. That’s when they say they ran to warn Croghan and her friend.

Hiking back down as a group, Croghan says they saw the bear again.

“It was probably about 40 or 50 feet in front of us on the trail,” Croghan said. “They fired another warning shot. It stood up, growled a little bit.”

Croghan says the group backed up and took the other side of the loop the rest of the way.

The Division of Wildlife Resources hasn’t received a formal report about the bear sighting last night, but Scott Root with DWR says it’s always a possibility to see bears up Millcreek Canyon.

“A lot of the vegetation is just loaded with berries, especially as we get later into the fall. And there’s plenty of water,” Root said. “Yes, it is bear country, but I think bears typically will kind of stay away from the main trails.”

Root says is a great resource for learning how to deal with wild animals on the trail.¬†With black bears — the only bears you’ll find in Utah — make a lot of noise and scare it off.