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Bear reported near Park City Mountain base

Near the top of the First Time lift at Park City Mountain, where a black bear was spotted Monday evening.
Parker Malatesta
Near the top of the First Time lift at Park City Mountain, where a black bear was spotted Monday, June 26, 2023.

A local mountain biker was chased by a bear on a popular trail Monday evening.

Park Avenue resident Jim Osselaer started his usual ride up Jenni’s Trail at the base of Park City Mountain Monday around 5:30 p.m.

“I was doing a little switchback, I was still pretty low… down by the First Time lift, and I heard some noise behind me. So I thought, 'Oh, you know, what the heck, I’ll turn around and see the pretty deer or what not,' and there’s a nice little brown bear,” Osselaer said.

Despite the animal looking brown, black bears are the only bear species in Utah. Black bears aren’t always black; their color can vary from white to every shade of brown, according to Wild Aware Utah, a website provided by the state of Utah, the Hogle Zoo and Utah State University.

Osselaer said in retrospect, he could have been a little smarter about his response.

“I was like 20, 30 feet away. We were staring at each other, and I had a total panic moment and did the exact wrong thing," he said. "This could be a public service announcement. But I rode away and then I realized that’s not the right thing to do. I was looking over my shoulder and almost crashed.”

Osselaer said he spoke to other bikers on the mountain who also saw a bear.

"Park City Mountain operates our activities in the great outdoors, in an environment that is shared with a variety of wildlife," Park City Mountain Vice President of Mountain Operations Shaydar Edelmann said. "We encourage all our guests to be respectful of our natural environment and to keep a safe distance from any type of wildlife on our mountain."

Park City Police spokesperson Lt. Jay Randall said Tuesday he wasn’t aware of other bear sightings around town.

If you encounter a bear while recreating, experts recommend standing your ground. It’s suggested that people make themselves look big and stay calm.

Running away is strongly discouraged; black bears can reach speeds of 35 mph.

More tips on what to do if you encounter a bear can be found here.