Bear lovers have been anxiously awaiting the day that the 26-year-old celebrity bear known as Grizzly 399 and her four cubs would awaken from hibernation from their den in Grand Teton National Park.
According to wildlife photographer Sam Bland, that day was Saturday although the writers at the popular wildlife site Team 399 made a play on the Easter holiday by announcing the awakening by saying “She Has Risen!”
Bland reported — along with posting photos and videos — that the five grizzlies had a busy day full of hiking and swimming on Saturday before disappearing again into the woods.
“So glad to see they all survived the winter and are looking healthy,” Bland said.
But the group won’t likely stay together long. That’s because this is the year, wildlife biologists say, the cubs are likely to head out on their own.
“399 will soon be pushing out the cubs to begin living on their own,” Bland said. “My hope is that they all live long lives and continue the legacy of their 26 year old mom, #399.”
The Facebook page “Midlife Rices” posted video of the five bears crossing a highway in Grand Teton National Park.
“I was super lucky since I had no idea she was heading straight towards me with her healthy fam,” the site said.
The five-some, which has received enormous international media attention, got into a bit of trouble last year when they — looking for food — pried into improperly stored garbage and wildlife feed. They also showed a proclivity toward beehives.
These habits, acquired because of careless humans, are what wildlife advocates are worried about. Hillary Cooley, Grizzly Recovery Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said last week that she anticipates “issues.”
“Bears in general, when they know they have a food source, they will repeat that and go try and find it again,” Cooley said. “It can be a human safety issue, and that’s a big deal for us.”
If those habits continue, dire circumstances could await such as hazing, relocation, and euthanasia.
Famed wildlife photographer Thomas Mangelsen, a champion of 399 and her cubs, told the Jackson Hole News & Guide last week the more serious penalties would be “overreactions.”
“Most of this is is preventable,” Mangelsen said. “I think they should be just very careful with her and not overreact.”