The queen of Wyoming’s bears is not to be rushed.
Wildlife photographer Jack Bayles said he’s concerned about some other Teton grizzlies that he follows but hasn’t seen yet this spring. However, he expects that Grizzly 399 “will be along when she is ready,” he told Cowboy State Daily on Friday.
Bayles heads “Team 399,” which photographs and videos the beloved momma bear for her worldwide fanbase. He previously told Cowboy State Daily that it’s not unusual for 399 to wait until June to make her first public appearance after hibernation.
It’s not known whether 399 will have cubs this year, but if she does, she and her brood might appear any day, said wildlife photographer Jorn Vangoidtsenhoven, who also follows 399 and several other celebrity bears.
“The snow in her area is melting fast so, if she has new cubs, she could make an appearance soon,” he told Cowboy State Daily.
Grizzly 399 gained fame over the years by bringing her cubs close to roadsides and other crowded areas, making her a favorite with Teton Park visitors, as well as millions following her online.
At 27, she’s old for a grizzly — the species rarely lives past 30 in the wild.
However, photographers and wildlife biologists have noted that her teeth have remained in remarkably good shape. That’s important, because older grizzlies frequently die of malnutrition once their teeth rot out or break off and it becomes difficult for them to eat calorie-rich foods such as big game carcasses.
Wildlife photographer Tom Mangelsen told Cowboy State Daily that when grizzly 610 and her cubs appear, Grizzly 399 generally isn’t far behind, although he is a bit concerned about the elder bear.
“(Grizzly) 610 and three 1-and-a-half-year olds were first seen a week ago near Signal Mountain. 399 usually shows up 10 days or so later," he said. "However, she should come out later still, around the 18th with new young cubs. I’m betting on May 19 with three cubs.
“However, no one has seen her since mid-September, which does worry me a bit. 610 and cubs all look good.”
Other Griz Doing Fine
Meanwhile some “B-list” celebrity grizzlies have been out and about, Vangoidtsenhoven said.
Grizzly 610 is one of 399's grown offspring. She has three cubs and is doing well, he said.
“When she came out of hibernation last Saturday, she was very drowsy still, so park staff thought she may be sick, but she appears to be fine,” he said. “The drowsiness was likely caused by hibernation.”
Another bear called “Felica” has “kicked out her two cubs and is being courted by a big boar (male bear),” Vangoidtsenhoven said.
And there have been daily sightings of “Fritter,” a gown cub of another famed Teton momma bear, “Blondie,” he said.
Mark Heinz can be reached at Mark@CowboyStateDaily.com