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42 Grizzly Bears Killed So Far in Wyoming This Year

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

2021 is proving to be a dangerous year for grizzly bears. 

So far this year, 42 grizzly bears have died in Wyoming, from the Beartooth Range down to the Dubois region — and there are still more than two months to go in the calendar year. 

In 2020, the number of grizzlies killed through October totaled 31.

Some of the increase can be traced to the fact there has been an above-average number of encounters between grizzlies and humans this year, said Luke Ellsbury, a large carnivore biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

“Typically we’ll have three or four aggressive encounters every fall,” he said. “I think we’re at seven or eight maybe this year. And so it is a little bit high, although we see that every few years… we have a high year.”

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has received seven reports of human-bear encounters in the last month, with one injury. 

Ellsbury blamed the increase in incidents on more people and more bears using the same landscape.

“Bears are coming into hyperphagia, so preparing for winter and going into the den,” he said. “This year, we did have a really dry year, and there was a shortage of a lot of natural foods. And so a lot of bears are a little bit food stressed right now.”

Ellsbury said reports of aggressive bear encounters began at the beginning of last month.

“It started in early September, and I think our last one was about a week and a half, two weeks ago,” he said. “And that’s typical. We usually see it in the fall — September, October time frame,” he said, noting that more hunters are in the woods at the same time bears are preparing for winter.

Ellsbury noted most of the encounters have involved females with cubs.

“And so they’re probably really searching for food, trying to get enough fat to make sure those cubs make it through winter, as well as defending those cubs from what they see as a threat,” he said.

Ellsbury reported that all of the aggressive encounters this year have taken place in traditional grizzly bear habitat. 

“Hunter run-ins have been the number one cause,” he said. “We’ve had a few bears coming down to the low country and in developed areas near towns, but so far, we haven’t had too many aggressive encounters with them.”

Fortunately, there has only been one encounter so far that has resulted in an injury to humans – a grizzly caught a hunter by surprise west of Cody earlier this month.

“It bit his hand near his thumb, but they were able to save his hand,” he said. 

Ellsbury noted that the rest of the encounters have involved a deterrent and either the bears were killed or they were driven away without any injury to the human. 

“We have had a few bears killed in self-defense this fall,” he said, “and those are under investigation.”

Ellsbury pointed out that there are ways to keep safe while recreating in grizzly bear country.

“If you’re just out recreating or hunting, make sure you have a defense on you, such as bear spray or a firearm,” he said. “Both are effective tools in deterring an aggressive encounter. But just make sure that you carry them where they’re accessible, and you know how to use them.”

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Oops, Woman Forgets to Lock Car Door; Bear Remembers How to Open Car Door

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

There’s no doubt about it. When a bear breaks into a car, we love it. We’ll write about it every time. Even if it’s not in Wyoming.

Usually the car gets destroyed which we admittedly find enjoyable. 

After all, the human is at fault. Lock your door, there’s not a problem. Keep it unlocked, buyer beware.

Then there was the case of the bear who opened up a car door and drank the case of beer in the back seat. No destruction but just as enjoyable.

But the video we found today gets a 10 out of 10.

Not only because the resolution is so clear but there’s great audio to go along with it.

And the dumb human doesn’t get hurt. But she puts on a wonderful show for more than 5 million people (so far) to see.

We have no idea where this happened. 

All we know is the woman is walking back out to her Lexus carrying what appears to be a box of apples. 

When she peers inside the open door and sees the bear she attempts to close it. But the bear ain’t having any of that and pushes back. The bear wins.

There’s nothing for the woman to do now but throw the box of apples down on the driveway and scream hysterically while she runs for the house.

The bear is freaked-out too. He jumps out of car and starts down the runway but gets over it. Quickly.

He sits down and starts scratching himself before sauntering back over to the car and then to investigate the box.

Sadly, the video ends there. We don’t know what happened next.

But we did find a extended dance remix of the video (below) where it shows the bear actually entering the vehicle and how easy it is for them to open unlocked doors.

Somewhere a Game and Fish department issued the same standard warning to lock your doors. But there are plenty of dopes — still — who don’t listen.

Until next time…

Bears Continue To Break Into Same Home in Aspen

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Ask any good burglar.  A nicer home can mean better loot.

Someone must have tipped off the animal world to this as the same home in Aspen, Colorado (where the average home is valued at $5.4 million) has been burglarized three times by bears in the last two years — twice in the last month.

Colorado wildlife officials say the latest break-in and theft occurred on Monday evening when a bear broke through an unlocked upstairs window.

The bear knew enough to head down to the kitchen to grab a snack before the homeowner was able to get the thief out of the house.

Apparently, the owner of the ritzy home had an airhorn handy and blasted it causing the bear to crash through a window in the basement to escape.

Luckily that bear has not found by Colorado Parks and Wildlife — yet.  The last bear-burglar suffered the ultimate penalty when it was put down shortly after a July 24 break-in to the same house.

Back in 2019, another bear (although it could have been a repeat offender) busted through dead-bolted French doors to get to the fridge.

Authorities said the individuals living in the neighborhood, for the most part, do a good job of bear-proofing their properties. 

“They do not have any unnatural attractants out and it was good to see they had the airhorn available for them to use last night. This in part is an aspect of living in bear country, but also in part learned behavior by that bear,” a spokesman said.

“If 95 percent of your community is doing everything right to live appropriately in bear country, but the other five percent is not, that is enough to habituate bears and their behavior can escalate to where they break into homes looking for food,” he said.

Now is especially a vulnerable time for bears because they’re beginning to pork-out to prepare for hibernation.

“Bears are entering hyperphagia – where they eat 20,000 calories each day to fatten up for winter. For up to 20 hours per day, they’ll be following their noses for easy, calorie-packed meals,” the department said.

Noted Wyoming outdoorsman Paul Ulrich said when people choose to live in bear country, it is critical they act responsibly.

“You gotta remember their sense of smell,” Ulrich said. “It’s incredible.”

“I remember when a friend of mine in Wapiti left a box of Froot Loops out on his patio. His security camera caught a grizzly horking down that cereal like a fat kid on an ice cream sandwich.”

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Gang of Bears Open Doors Of 8 Cars In Search Of Food in Estes Park; Stupid Humans to Blame

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

It seems like an easily solvable situation.  All people have to do is lock their car doors.

But apparently that act is too strenuous for a number of individuals in Estes Park, Colorado, as a bear — or a gang of bears — broke into eight vehicles over the weekend in search of food.

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife department reported that there were paw prints on the handles of numerous other cars as well, but those cars were locked and bears haven’t figured out how to use “Slim Jims” yet (a tool to unlock cars — not the beef jerky).

“Unfortunately for the bear, it did receive some food rewards which only encourages this sort of unnatural and unsustainable behavior,” Officer Frank Rylands said.

He also said the owners of the cars were “extremely fortunate” the bear(s) didn’t destroy the cars.

One hungry bear in Tennessee ripped apart a car earlier this year after it locked itself inside of the vehicle.

The owner of the car, watched in disbelief as the black bear demolished the vehicle as it tried to find a way out.

“It was like that scene in Tommy Boy where the elk woke up and thoroughly trashed the vehicle,” Officer Duke Snyder told a local TV station.  “Except this car wasn’t drivable after the bear got done with it.”

“Every time I think about it, I start humming ‘Eres Tu,” the officer said, noting the song Chris Farley and David Spade sang while driving the vehicle during the movie.

Regardless, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife department is urging all car owners to start locking their doors.

“Make it a routine to lock all your windows and doors for both your vehicle and home. This is for your safety and for the lives of these amazing and resourceful creatures,” Rylands said.

Noted Wyoming outdoorsman Paul Ulrich said this shouldn’t surprise anyone as bears are “very intelligent animals.”

“A couple summers ago, I witnessed a bear using a car’s remote control to open the hatch of a vehicle,” Ulrich said. “People need to quit being idiots and remember to lock their doors and not keep their keys out.”

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Black Bear Killed After Breaking Into Montana Home

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A young female black bear was killed last week after it broke into a Montana home looking for food, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials.

Despite the Red Lodge homeowners’ efforts to bear-proof their property, the bear was able to pry open a window and enter the house on June 23. No one was at home when the bear let itself in.

When the homeowners returned, they called Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials, who trapped and euthanized the bear.

When bears enter homes, FWP will kill them if possible, as this type of bear behavior is dangerous to humans and is unnatural for bears.

Red Lodge-area residents have reported seeing other bears around town and in adjacent subdivisions and ranches. FWP bear specialists expect the lack of spring moisture could affect berry crops, leading both black and grizzly bears to seek out easy food sources near homes.

If those bears find nothing to eat around homes and businesses, they will move elsewhere.

The incident serves as a reminder to people who live in bear country to take every opportunity to bear-proof their properties, which includes putting all trash in bear-proof containers and keeping all property free of anything that can attract bears who are looking for food, the officials said.

Residents can avoid bear conflicts by storing all garbage cans in a locked building until immediately before garbage trucks arrive, storing barbecue grills, pet food, horse pellets and livestock feed in a locked building.

Home and business owners can remove all bird feeders and clean up apples, berries and other potential food sources.

Bear-proofing also includes thoroughly cleaning decks and patios around barbecue areas to remove odors from previous cooking.

The incident occurred not long after Grand Teton National Park officials moved a grizzly bear to a new spot in the park because it received food from humans over a two-day period.

Park spokewoman Denise Germann told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that the decision was made to relocate the bear to try and break the cycle it had developed of approaching humans in hopes of some kind of food reward.

She added that it was irresponsible for people to feed grizzlies, either directly or indirectly.

“When people take these actions, there are consequences, many of which are for the bear, who can either be relocated or removed,” Germann said. “It’s an awesome opportunity to come to the park and see a bear in the wild, but we also have to be good stewards of the land, which includes not feeding wildlife.”

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Bear Breaks Into Car, Spends An Hour Inside With Case of Beer

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

A Colorado driver is mourning the loss of his car on Tuesday after a bear destroyed it.

Apparently the bear found what was inside of the car in Larkspur, Colorado attractive and broke in to get it.

That something might have been the case of beer in the backseat.

Whatever it was, authorities say the bear stayed in the vehicle for at least an hour before exiting.

The episode gave wildlife officials another opportunity to remind the public to remove bear attractants — including beer — from their vehicles.

“Unfortunately these photos serve as a reminder that if you are in bear country, you need to lock your car doors & keep it clean of all attractants,” a representative from Colorado Parks and Wildlife said.

No word on whether the bear guzzled all 24 cans of beer.

It wouldn’t be the first time a Colorado bear got hammered.  Back in 2006, a drunk bear was filmed stumbling near an elementary school near Lyons, Colorado.

Officers ended up tranquilizing the bear. Media reports said the bear “slept it off” before stumbling back to the wilderness — like a bear version of “Otis the town drunk.”

Authorities say bears broke into cars 484 times between 2019-20.

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Hoping to Avoid More Bloodshed, Yellowstone Biologist Urges Public To Respect Bears

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

After multiple bear encounters with humans recently, one of Yellowstone’s leading bear biologists posted a video this week to educate visitors on what to do if or when they encounter a bear.

Specifically, park officials were referring to the video of a woman caught filming some playing bears when one of them charged her for being too close. Another video showed a bear charging a park ranger. Then, a solo hiker was injured by a bear in late May.

Kerry Gunther, senior bear biologist, explained why the bear charged the park ranger.

“What was going on was there’s a female bear in estrus (heat) and [she] was somewhat used to running into lots of people when she grazes and forages in the roadside meadows,” he said. “But a backcountry male came down and he was a lot less comfortable with people. So he was charging at the crowd to get them away from the female bear.”

When a ranger arrived and managed to move the female out of range from the crowds, the male was hesitant to follow because he was being blocked by cars on the road, Gunther said.

“So the male was getting more and more agitated because he couldn’t follow the female because the traffic was blocking his path,” he said. “The bear technician there was trying to get traffic stopped, but people weren’t listening.”

The male grizzly was discouraged from charging when the ranger used “hazing rounds,” non-lethal projectiles such as beanbags and firecrackers, to drive it away.

Gunther noted that in the case of the woman filming, the female bear, accompanied by two cubs, had given plenty of warning to her and other visitors taking pictures and video of the bears to back away, but she continued filming. She was less than 30 yards from when the bear began its “bluff charge,” the biologist said.

“When a bear’s telling you that you’re too close, you know, anytime a bear slaps the ground, pops its jaws, lips out, those are all warnings that you’re too close, back off,” he said.

While bears might seem unpredictable, Gunther noted that they’re actually not quite so wild that he and other scientists can’t figure out why they charge or feel threatened.

According to the National Park Service, a bluff charge is the more common type of charge and is meant to scare or intimidate. If a bluff charge is about to happen, a person is supposed to slowly back away from the bear while waving their arms above their head and speaking to the bear in a calm voice.

People should not run when a bear bluff charges, because it may trigger the animal to attack.

More importantly, people should not approach a bear at all, Gunther said.

“Never approach a bear within 100 yards because you’re just asking for trouble,” he said. “Bears, they’re large, they’re fast. They’re certainly capable of maiming or killing you.”

Gunther did not address the hiker who was injured, but at the time, park officials reminded visitors to never hike alone and always carry bear spray.

The unidentified 39-year-old man was attacked while hiking alone on the Beaver Ponds Trail at Mammoth Hot Springs. The incident occurred around 1.5 miles from the trailhead that originates from the Old Gardiner Road.

The man told park officials he was hiking when he encountered what he believed to be two grizzly bears. One attacked him and he sustained significant injuries to his lower extremities, but was able to hike out on his own.

The hiker was transported to the Livingston, Montana, Hospital by park ambulance.

The last bear-human conflict in the park occurred in June 2020, when a grizzly knocked a woman to the ground and scratched her thigh.

The woman was hiking alone when she encountered two grizzlies at close range. The female bear knocked her down despite the woman’s attempt to use bear spray.

When the woman fell, she also received minor injuries to her face. She declined medical attention.

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Female Bear Euthanized After Attacking Man Inside His Garage In Colorado

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A female bear was euthanized this weekend after attacking a man at his home near Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Around 11 p.m. Sunday, a man noticed the door to his garage, where he stored birdseed and other bear attractants, was open, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials. The man went to close the door, but upon entering the garage, he encountered a female bear and her two cubs.

As the man attempted to back away from the bears, the sow attacked. She caused serious injuries, including severe lacerations to the man’s head and legs that required surgery.

The victim is in stable condition and his injuries are not considered life-threatening.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers and park rangers responded to the home and began a search for the bear and cubs. The CPW team quickly found the sow near the home. The bear was euthanized and its remains were sent to CPW’s Wildlife Health Lab for necropsy.

Wildlife officers remain in the area searching for the two cubs. When found, officers will work to trap them and move them to a rehabilitation facility.

“This is an unfortunate reminder that we need to stay vigilant and ‘bear aware’ at all times,” Kyle Bond, CPW district wildlife manager, said. “Easy access to food will always override a bear’s natural fear of people, so we humans have to stay on top of keeping all food sources secure.”

This is the first bear attack in the Steamboat Springs area this year, although not in Colorado itself. Earlier this year, a woman was killed by a bear in southern Colorado.

It wasn’t clear if the bear that attacked the man was a grizzly.

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Woman Killed In Bear Attack Near Durango, Colorado

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Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers investigate the scene of what is believed to be a fatal bear attack near Trimble, Colorado on Friday night.

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By staff reports

A 39-year-old woman was found dead Friday night off U.S. Highway 550 near Trimble, north of Durango, after what Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) officials believe was a bear attack.

An autopsy on the woman will be performed by the La Plata County coroner early next week. The coroner’s office will identify the remains and determine the official cause of death.

The woman, a Durango resident, was believed to have gone walking with her two dogs earlier Friday, according to information provided to the La Plata County Sheriff’s office by her boyfriend. The victim had last communicated with her boyfriend late in the morning.

The boyfriend, whose name has not been released, told the sheriff’s office he returned home around 8:30 p.m. and discovered the two dogs outside of their home, but the woman was missing. He started searching for her and discovered her body around 9:30 p.m. He then called 911 to report the incident.

CPW wildlife officers responded and observed signs of consumption on the body and an abundance of bear scat and hair at the scene.

La Plata County Sheriff’s deputies assisted in the investigation. CPW called in a dog team from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services to search the area. 

The dog team quickly found a sow (female) black bear with two yearlings nearby. The bears were euthanized and are being taken to CPW’s Wildlife Health Lab in Fort Collins for a necropsy. DNA evidence from the bears and the scene will be sent to Laramie for testing at the Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Forensic & Fish Health Laboratory.

“Bear attacks are extremely rare,” said Cory Chick, CPW Southwest Region manager. “This is a tragic event and a sad reminder that bears are wild and potentially dangerous. Out of an abundance of caution, the bears were removed for public safety. We ask the public to report any encounter with an aggressive bear to CPW.”

Chick asked the public to avoid the area as the CPW investigation with La Plata County continues. Wildlife officers worked throughout the night and into the morning to process the scene, looking for evidence to corroborate it was a wildlife attack.

An examination of the sow’s teeth led wildlife officers to believe she over 10 years old.

CPW has received a few reports from the Durango area of bears becoming active this spring. The majority of these have been sighting reports. On April 19, a resident along the Animas River and La Plata County Road 250 captured a single bear on his game camera and reported that the bear tore down his bird feeder. On March 23, CPW received a report of a bear getting into trash east of Durango off Florida Road.

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Wyoming Game and Fish Resuming Bear Capture, Collaring Operations

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has launched its annual grizzly bear capture operations in northwestern Wyoming.

Beginning this spring and continuing through early fall, department biologists will trap grizzly bears in both front and backcountry areas to collect data needed to assess the health of the area’s grizzly population.

All trap sites will be posted with area closure signs in the direct vicinity, the department said. Department officials added It is critical that all members of the public heed the signs.

When captured, the bears are collared, released on site and monitored in accordance with strict guidelines developed by the department and the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team.

The annual monitoring of this population is vital to the ongoing management and conservation of grizzly bears in Wyoming. Information obtained through these efforts is used to assess the status and health of grizzly bears in the ecosystem and provides insight into population dynamics critical to demonstrate the continued recovery of the Greater Yellowstone population.

Last summer, the department managed to capture about 20 bears.

From July 27 to Aug. 21, six different grizzlies were captured southeast of Moran Junction, with five of them being collared. A sub-adult male bear was tagged and biological samples were taken, but he wasn’t radio-collared due to his small size.

Two black bears were captured in the Jackson region, but were released unhandled.

Information obtained through these efforts is used to assess the status and health of grizzly bears in the ecosystem and provides insight into population dynamics critical to demonstrate the continued recovery of the Greater Yellowstone population.

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