By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A 4-year-old female grizzly bear was killed on Saturday by Grand Teton National Park officials after repeatedly entering areas frequented by humans in search of food, officials announced this week.
The decision to kill the bear was made after it received numerous food rewards from unsecured sources, causing it to exhibit increasingly bold behavior. This behavior caused the bear to pose a threat to human safety and therefore it was killed, the park said.
Over the course of two years, the grizzly received multiple food rewards and grew more aggressive in its searches for food in populated areas.
In October 2020, the bear obtained food from a private residence south of the park. This fall, the grizzly took food from other private lands and caused property damage.
The bear eventually grew bolder in its attempts to obtain human food, breaking into bear-resistant dumpsters in the park.
Once a bear obtains food from human sources — referred to as “food rewards” — it can become “food conditioned”. Food rewards can include human food, trash, livestock feed, compost, pet food, beehives and more.
Over time, food conditioned bears may become bold or aggressive in their attempts to obtain human food, as was the case with this bear.
Park officials made the decision to capture and remove the animal under terms of the Interagency Grizzly Bear guidelines and the park’s bear and wildlife management plan. On Oct. 16, the grizzly bear was captured by Grand Teton park staff and euthanized.
As the grizzly bear population continues to expand in the southern end of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, bears continue to disperse outside of Grand Teton National Park.
As of August, 27 bears had been euthanized due to conflicts with humans, killed by other bears, hit by cars or drowned in canals so far in 2021. Another five carcasses that were found are suspected to have died in late 2020.