Grizzly Roaming Near Cody Eludes Wyoming Game And Fish — For Now

Although people have reported a grizzly near the northern edge of Cody since Saturday, the bear has so far eluded Wyoming Game and Fish efforts to locate it. One resident said grizzlies are common to see in the spring and no one is worried.

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Andrew Rossi

May 01, 20244 min read

Mix Collage 01 May 2024 04 50 PM 8471
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

CODY — Anytime a truck towing a bear trap is spotted, it’s bound to get attention. That’s why many local residents noticed the Wyoming Game and Fish truck headed through town on a damp, rainy Wednesday morning with a bear trap trailer in tow.

“Game and Fish on their way to trap a grizzly bear in Cody,” said Matthew Thomas as he got a photo of the green truck and trailer driving past the Holiday Inn Cody on 16th Street.

Tara Hodges, information and education specialist with the Cody office of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, confirmed that a grizzly had been spotted along state Highway 120 north of Cody. After days of keeping an eye out, the agency was ready to mobilize to catch it.

Turns out that’s easier said than done.

“On Saturday April 27, a member of the public reported a grizzly bear in the Cottonwood Creek drainage north of Cody,” she told Cowboy State Daily. “Wyoming Game and Fish Department large carnivore specialists responded to the area and confirmed the presence of a grizzly bear.”

Hodges said there were signs that the bear had been frequenting private land in the area, and biologists “attempted to preemptively catch it to avoid conflict.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, the bear had not captured and trapping operations had been suspended.

Happens Every Spring

Cody resident Ted Seckinger wasn’t surprised to see the bear trap heading out of town Wednesday. He’d been hearing reports of a grizzly near the city limits since it was first spotted.

“Someone spotted it Saturday, just north of the Cody Shooting Complex,” he said. “There's a set of trails over there called Outlaw Trails. So, they sent a Game and Fish guy over there, who found tracks, and they responded.”

Nobody was very alarmed or surprised by the grizzly sighting. According to Sekinger, it’s become more common to spot grizzlies roaming near Cody in recent years.

“This happens every spring,” he said. “As the years go by, we're getting more and more grizzly bears in the city limits. After hibernation gets done, they’re wandering around.”

“Game and Fish on their way to trap a grizzly bear in Cody,” Matthew Thomas posted to Facebook on Wednesday as he got a photo of the green truck and trailer driving past the Holiday Inn Cody on 16th Street.
“Game and Fish on their way to trap a grizzly bear in Cody,” Matthew Thomas posted to Facebook on Wednesday as he got a photo of the green truck and trailer driving past the Holiday Inn Cody on 16th Street. (Matthew Thomas via Facebook)

More Often

Grizzlies wandering around the more populated areas of northwest Wyoming isn’t uncommon. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department dealt with several incidents over the last year, with various outcomes.

Last September, a grizzly was found roaming in pastureland near U.S. Highway 14-A between Cody and Powell. That bear was euthanized because it was showing signs of habituation that made its removal from the population necessary.

A month later, a male grizzly was spotted along the Paul Stock Nature Trail. The 2-mile loop runs along the Shoshone River within the city limits of Cody near several homes and residential areas.

Wyoming Game and Fish hazed the grizzly and monitored the area for several days. That bear seemed to have received the message and didn’t return.

“My understanding was Game and Fish was putting in a raft and floating (the Shoshone River) for the next week trying to locate that thing, and they never did,” Seckinger said.

Musical Chairs

Seckinger said he “doesn’t agree with a lot of Game and Fish policy in regard to the grizzlies.”

He was especially critical of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s relocation practices.

“The joke around here is they're playing musical chairs,” he said. “They'll trap them up the North Fork and drop them off in the mountains near Dubois. And at the same time, they're trapping bears outside of Dubois and bringing them to the North Fork. I think it's kind of silly, personally.”

Given its status as an endangered species, Wyoming Game and Fish cannot unilaterally decide to capture a grizzly. Any captures and relocations must be approved by and coordinated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Grizzlies are unaware of the invisible boundaries that humans have regulated them to. Someone doesn’t have to stray far out of Cody to find themselves in the kind of wilderness grizzlies call home.

“Game and Fish has documented grizzly bears in areas surrounding Cody for many years,” Hodges said. “If you are recreating in areas surrounding Cody, you should always be vigilant, carry bear spray, and assume that you could encounter a black or grizzly bear.”

Andrew Rossi can be reached at arossi@cowboystatedaily.com.

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