By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Grizzly 399 and her four cubs are likely back in their den after being spotted on New Year’s Day, a Wyoming Game and Fish spokesman said Tuesday.
Spokesman Mark Gocke told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that although most collared grizzly bears in the Jackson region head for their dens around late November or early December, this isn’t the first time 399 has stayed out later than most.
“It seems she has learned to take advantage of the remains from late season elk hunts in the area,” Gocke said.
While the elk hunts in Grand Teton National Park and the National Elk Refuge ended mid-December, 399 and her cubs have spent the last three weeks in some of the more remote areas of the refuge to feed on gut-piles and the remains of elk carcasses left in the field.
“Staying out a little longer for this high-protein food source has proven pretty productive for grizzly 399 and her offspring,” Gocke said.
Because 399 dropped her radio collar, the Game and Fish department can’t track her movements like other bears in the area, so it relies on eyewitness reports.
The last report of the bear family came in on Friday, when it was spotted in the northern area of Grand Teton heading toward an area where 399 has denned in the past.
“We are presuming they have denned up now,” he said. “Grizzly bears will often dig new dens from one year to the next, so we don’t know exactly where she will den, but this would generally align with what she has done in the past as far as location and timing.”