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Bear that attacked camper in Angeles National Forest has been euthanized

In this Friday, Oct. 23, 2015, photo a California black bear roams in Three Rivers, Calif. Tourists hoping to see a bear in Sequoia National Park this fall probably stand a better chance spotting one in this tiny town at the park’s entrance. Three Rivers is literally crawling with hungry bears driven down from the mountains by drought in search of food to fatten up for the winter. The four-year drought shriveled the berry crop in the Sierra Nevada and oaks on parched hillsides produced fewer acorns, forcing the bears into the valleys carved by the branches of the Kaweah River that give this town its name. (AP Photo/Brian Melley)
Brian Melley/AP
File: A California black bear roams in Three Rivers, California.

A bear that attacked a camper in Angeles National Forest has been identified and euthanized.

The camper, who has not been identified, was in his tent on Friday night looking at his iPad when the bear approached and apparently attempted to open the tent, according to an earlier statement from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. In doing so, the bear's paw scratched the man's forehead.

Wildlife officials caught a bear the next day and began running DNA and other tests to try to confirm they had the right one. The tests came back positive on Wednesday morning, and the bear was put to sleep in the afternoon, California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Andrew Hughan confirmed to KPCC.

The camper received 25 staples to treat his wound, though he is doing fine now, Hughan said.

“You know, we never want to destroy an animal, but when there’s public safety involved, it’s the only choice that we have,” he said.

As a matter of policy, the department does not attempt to relocate bears because it does not work, Hughan said.

“Bears are incredibly well attuned to their environment and smell, so they’ll just generally come right back. And certainly a bear that has attacked a person is a problem bear, and we can’t just relocate a problem bear to somewhere else,” Hughan said.

Hughan said it was still unclear exactly what drew the bear to the tent. He said it was likely that the bear smelled something, but there was no evidence to indicate the man had food in his tent.

Bear attacks in California are extremely rare, making this incident almost a statistical anomaly, Hughan said. He said there has never been a fatality attributed to a bear in the state.

“If you just take basic precautions when you’re camping in the wilderness — keep your food away from your tent, obviously, keep it up and away from where bears can get at it — the Angeles National Forest is very safe,” Hughan said.

Wildlife officials plan to do a complete necropsy to determine if the bear had rabies or any other ailments, but Hughan said the bear was by all indications a healthy female. He said it was just bad luck — for the camper and the bear.