By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily
At Cowboy State Daily, we have received emails asking us why there aren’t as many stories this summer about the grizzly known as 399 and her four cubs who make their home in Grand Teton National Park.
Although we haven’t quantified media coverage or social media posts from year-to-year about the celebrity bear family, anecdotally it does seem like there could be some truth to the idea they just aren’t getting the attention this year they have in the past.
Maybe it’s because individuals are heeding the advice of wildlife advocates who have asked people not to document their sightings of the bears when the group is outside Grand Teton National Park.
Or it could be that the bears are more reclusive this year as the cubs have grown larger and less prone to attack by male bears.
Regardless, a group of tourists went absolutely berserk on Wednesday when the fivesome strode past their traffic-jammed tourbus on Wednesday.
Similar to Sesame Street (outside of the shrieks of “oh my God!”), passengers counted each bear as they walked across the highway.
“Look at them! There’s another one! There’s another one! WAHHHHHH! There’s the fourth one. WHAT? Is that four or five? Oh my God! WAHHHHHHH! I can’t believe it! Don’t leave! WAHHHHHH!”
Whether anyone knew the credentials of this famous family or not isn’t known. No one in the video clip identified 399 or her brood by name … or number.
However, someone tipped one of the photographers off because the YouTube video identified the famous bear and said the video was shot near Willow Flats in Grand Teton National Park.
Fans of the bears will be grateful to learn they are still located in the park. Advocates get concerned when the group goes beyond the boundaries because of traffic, the increased possibility of interaction with people, and unnatural food rewards.
Noted Wyoming outdoorsman Paul Ulrich said he was pleased no one got out of their car to take a photograph with any of the bears.
“Make no mistake, any of these bears could rip your head off,” Ulrich said. “I’ve seen it happen too many times.”