A group of people looking for a bear in Blacksmith Fork Canyon, Utah, July 1908
(USU Special Collections & Archives, Blacksmith Fork Canyon photograph collection, P0026, Box 1, Photograph 11)
The dramatic influx of sheep in the Bear River Range caused much of the grizzly bears’ habitat to become overgrazed, but it simultaneously offered a tantalizing new source of food. Because they are omnivores, plant sources are an important part of grizzly diets, and this resource suddenly became scarcer. Additionally, grizzlies are opportunistic feeders, meaning they will feed on whatever food is available. Mostly defenseless sheep were an easy and alluring opportunity. Some combination of these factors led a small portion of grizzlies to attack flocks, and those that killed once often continued to do so. Herders responded by hiring professional trappers, or, like Frank Clark, killing bears themselves, usually with no regard to which had killed livestock and which had not.