The Black Hills Travel Blog

Hold on to your picnic baskets

By • Sep 18th, 2009 • Category: Discoveries

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The Black Hills has it”s share of wild critters that we all love to see, from the bison and elk to the turkeys and eagles. But, there”s one animal that”s long been believed to be extinct in the area – the black bear.

However, the idea that zero bears exist in the Black Hills, with the obvious exception of Bear County USA, has recently been questioned by a couple of tourists.

A couple of weeks ago, the Black Hills Pioneer ran a front page story about an unconfirmed black bear sighting in Spearfish Canyon. The story definitely caught my attention as it was accompanied by a fairly convincing photo.

The Pioneer interviewed Adam Meyer and his girlfriend Gina Hollamen who were part way through a cross-country camping trip. They were admiring beautiful Spearfish Falls, when off to the right, they spotted some movement.

Both Meyer and Hollamen agreed that what they were seeing was not only a black bear, but actually two! What appeared to be a mother sow and a young cub were photographed by the couple, using a cell phone camera.

Wildlife Manger, John Kanta, spoke with the folks at the Pioneer and could not confirm this as a definite bear sighting, but certainly didn”t deny the possibility that it could happen.

In the article, he mentioned that black bears have been confirmed in eastern Wyoming and western Nebraska in recent years. Kanta also said that he had seen reported black bear tracks in the Hill City area back in February.

The thought of having black bears in the area is exciting, but I”m not quite convinced. The area around Spearfish Falls, where the bears were supposedly seen, is extremely steep and quite close to the walking path and viewing area.

In the coming months, I”ll be paying more attention, hoping to see a black bear in the area.  Be sure to let me know if you have any encounters of your own. Once we get this bear mystery solved, we can move on to more elusive creatures – like bigfoot.

About the Author

is a resident of Spearfish, S.D. He grew up in the tall-corn state of Iowa, where he developed an early interest in all things outdoors. After high school he moved to Vermillion, S.D., where he earned his bachelor’s degree in public relations and advertising. During his college years, two things caught his attention: the beauty of western South Dakota’s Black Hills and a girl from those Black Hills. After graduating from college, Joe traveled across the country as a recruiter for the University of South Dakota. He saw the sights from Pittsburgh to Las Vegas and everywhere in between, but it was the Black Hills (and the girl) that kept drawing him back. He and wife moved back to the Black Hills in 2008. He's an avid hiker, mountain biker and road cyclist whose future plans include trying to fit a pair of kayaks into the spare bedroom.
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