By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A young female grizzly bear was attacked and mortally wounded by its mother and the mother’s mate over the weekend in Yellowstone National Park, a Utah photographer told Cowboy State Daily on Monday.
Julie Argyle said bear 815 and her male mate attacked the 3-year-old bear after the sub-adult wouldn’t leave an area.
“This is the first time I’ve heard of 815 being aggressive like this,” Argyle said. “But the situation is that it’s mating season, food sources are scarce and it’s her territory.”
She believed that the mother bear was attempting to frighten the bear away from the area, but when the male bear entered the altercation, things became deadly.
Argyle noted that the two older bears actually did not kill the younger one, but left it injured to the point she was euthanized by the National Park Service.
“Her injuries were too much for her to handle and she was suffering in an awful way so the National Park Service put her down in an effort to end her suffering,” she said.
She added that the young bear had been kicked out of its den by bear 815 last summer, so it has been on its own for a year.
Wyoming Game and Fish Department large carnivore specialist Dan Thompson told Cowboy State Daily that it is not uncommon for mother bears and their mates to attack their young.
“As the overall density of grizzly bears has increased within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, we see more instances of what we call ‘intraspecific strife’ such as this,” he said. “These natural occurrences are another indicator of density dependence that is exhibited when a population is at carrying capacity.”
Argyle posted about the bear’s death on her wildlife photography page in order to bring awareness to the fact that the wildlife people see in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks are exactly that – wild.
“This is a natural thing, it just happened to occur close to a road where people saw it,” she said. “I think this is a great wake up call for people who try to get too close to these animals. We’re viewing them as something that isn’t a wild animal and they definitely are.”
According to the Yellowstone Grizzly Project, bear 815 was collared by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team in 2015. At the time of her capture, there were no cubs present, but she was seen with three in 2016.
Yellowstone officials did not respond to Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment by publication time on Monday.