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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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“I Don’t Care If You’re Hungry, I’m Not Your Food:” Runner Encounters Bear in Grand Teton

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A man chased by a hungry bear in Grand Teton National Park over the weekend has uploaded a video of his encounter with the animal.

Evan Matthews went for a casual run in the park over the weekend (the video was uploaded Saturday) and encountered a black bear which was apparently fresh out of the den.

“I’ve seen plenty of bears in the wild, but this was the first time one had shown any interest in me. He must have been extra hungry!” Matthews said, adding he was followed for about one-half mile by the bear.

In the 3-minute video, Matthews can be heard yelling at the bear, telling it to leave him alone.

“I don’t care if you’re hungry, I’m not your food,” Matthews told the bear.

He did have bear spray with him, but never used it as the bear never got within 20 yards of him.

Matthews said he didn’t run away from the bear because that could have led the animal to see him as prey and prompted the bear to chase him.

“Being that I am not prey, I stood my ground when it charged (showing it that I’m not a prey animal) then backed away slowly,” Matthews said.

He also didn’t play dead, because that would have made him an easy target for the bear. He recommended playing dead only if a mother bear with cubs is attacking, since she can perceive the threat to be over.

Matthews added that he kept talking to the bear to show it that he was a human so the bear would not mistake him for another animal.

He clarified that although the bear in the video is brown, it is a cinnamon phase black bear.

“Not all bear encounters are the same. In most cases, I’ve been able to just go around the animal. But this one was interested in me, so I had to change its mind!” Matthews said.

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Grand Teton Natl Park Closes Area Due To Awakening Grizzlies

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Grand Teton National Park officials are doing their best to keep bears and humans from encountering each other (at least, for now) in the park as bears begin to wake from hibernation.

A portion of the east-facing slope of 25 Short is closed until further notice to prevent potential conflict between a denning grizzly bear and skiers.

Direct access across the summit ridgeline to Turkey Chute, Chute the Moon and other routes to Avalanche Canyon is open.  This area is routinely accessed from the Taggart Lake Trailhead.  

Bears are beginning to emerge from hibernation. Approximately 50% of adult male grizzly bears are awake by mid-March and females with young usually emerge anytime between April and mid-May.  

Bears will be looking for food, including winter-killed carcasses in avalanche paths and other areas. 

Backcountry skiers are encouraged to be alert, aware of the surrounding area, and carry bear spray. Black and grizzly bears may be located anywhere within the park, including developed areas.

All park visitors should carry bear spray and maintain a minimum of 100 yards from bears and wolves, and 25 yards from other wildlife.

No bars have been reported in the park so far, but Yellowstone National Park reported its first bear sighting last weekend. On Saturday, a pilot supporting park wildlife studies observed a grizzly from the air.

The pilot saw the bear interact with wolves at a carcass in the northern part of the park.

While this is the first bear sighting of 2021 in Yellowstone, tracks have been seen on several occasions in the last two weeks. This comes almost one week later than the first sighting of 2020, which occurred on March 7.

We all know some of the disasters that can occur when bears and humans interact, so let’s all try to keep the chaos to a minimum this year.

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Grizzly 399, Cubs Sighted Back In Grand Teton

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Although the most famous grizzly in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and her four cubs were recently seen farther south than they’d ever ventured, Grizzly 399 and her babies are now back in the Grand Teton National Park area.

Jackson-based adventure guide Matty Deehan took a video of the mother and her cubs, which have grown significantly since their debut earlier this year. He then posted it to his Instagram account, celebrating their return.

The video shows the five bears wandering through a backyard area, presumably Deehan’s, on their way back to their main home in the park.

“The family is less than a mile from returning back into Grand Teton National Park. Hopefully this time it’s for good,” Deehan wrote in the Instagram post.

The bears are preparing for hibernation, which will last around five months. Once they begin hibernating, grizzly 399 and the four cubs likely won’t be seen until late March or early April.

In October, one of the cubs was spotted limping, but all four appeared to be healthy in the video posted by Deehan.

Grand Teton National Park officials didn’t respond to a request for comment from Cowboy State Daily.

Grizzly 399 is considered the most famous bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. She has had around 16 cubs, including her latest four that were first seen this year.

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Bear Sings In Tree, Deserves Record Deal

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A video of a bear vocalizing in a tree likely could have record producers scrambling to sign it to become the next big thing.

Well, maybe not quite, but it still is pretty fun to hear it vocalizing.

The video posted last week by Yosemite National Park shows an adult male bear vocalizing in a tree, but rangers were uncertain as to the reason why.

“Bears can produce a wide repertoire of sounds, typically when defensive, afraid, distressed or aggressive,” the post said. “We’re not sure what prompted this unscheduled a capella concert…”

According to the North American Bear Center, black bears use sounds, body language, and scent-marking to express their emotions of the moment.

No tourists could be seen trying to bother the bear, so that is likely not the reason the bear was “singing” in the tree last week.

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Grizzly Bear 399’s Cub Has Limp But Prognosis Good (We Hope)

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Photo Credit: EnjoyYourParks.com

Although the bear named “747” received top honors this year as the fattest bear of Alaska’s Katmai National Park, Yellowstone’s favorite grizzly bear “399” is probably the most talked-about bear of 2020.

Second-place honors might go to the grizzly who was minding its own business in an abandoned shed before a Montana man sneaked up on it (the man lost).

As for the bronze medal, we might go with the grizzly bear who — again was minding its own business — before a trailrunner (who wasn’t paying attention to the trail) literally ran into the bear and bounced off it.

And coming in in fourth (no medals sadly but in this age of participation trophies, we’ll send it a certificate), would be the bear who was minding its own business when a couple with a baby (seriously) was on the same trail as the grizzly and decided to do the exact wrong thing and run away from it. (Thankfully the bear probably rolled its eyes and just let them move on).

Regardless, and finally back to the topic, 399 is the 24-year-old grizzly who is always seen with her latest round of cubs — all four of them.

She’s been the topic of countless stories this year including an article from The Guardian which proclaimed “She Still Lives” when she emerged from hibernation, still standing with her cubs in tow.

As 399 and her now-much-larger cubs get ready for hibernation, we noticed that one of the little guys (we’re gender neutral here — we don’t know the sex of the cub so we’ll just call it a ‘him’) wasn’t faring as well as his siblings.

The site EnjoyYourParks (which is one of our all-time favorites) explained that the smallest of the cubs has a limp and that’s why you might see him behind the pack.

“Normally this cutie is right next to its mom but on this particular day it was having trouble keeping up with the rest of its family,” the site explained.

“We noticed this limp about a week ago and it has not worsened or improved throughout this time,” it said.

But don’t get too alarmed. The cub is apparently keeping up much better now and is now digging with both front legs.

In the past, the site explained the cub would just watch its siblings dig.

“This may be an indication the cub’s leg or paw is healing,” it said.

Or it could be an indication that the cub is really quite smart and having its siblings do all the work while he’s kicking back.

Either way, the site pledged to monitor the situation and provide updates when necessary. Keep up with its progress here.

By the way, it will probably be a while until the bears get ready for sleepy time. Late November is the time most bears get ready for winter hibernation but that is dependent on snowfall, temperature, and food supply.

We’ll keep you posted.

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Emaciated Black Bear Cub Euthanized in Lander

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Photo credit: Lander Volunteer Fire Department

It’s always sad to report when an animal has to be put down because there are no other options.

That was the case on Saturday morning when Wyoming’s Game and Fish department was called to investigate a report of a black bear which was located up a tree in a residential area in Lander.

Game and Fish spokesperson Rebecca Fitzgerald said the biologist on site examined the animal and determined that the bear was in “very poor shape.”

“They did a visual examination and confirmed that the bear was emaciated and obviously had been separated way too early from its mother and would not survive the winter,” Fitzgerald said.

The decision to euthanize the bear was made because there were really no other options, she said, as the bear was in such a bad condition and the likelihood of placing the bear in a zoo or rehab facility was low.

“It’s really hard to place these smaller cubs with zoos especially when they are in poor condition,” she said.

“This cub was separated from its mother way too early,” she said. “It needed to be with its mother for at least another eight months.”

Fitzgerald said wildlife officials were aware of this cub and knew it had been born this year.

“So to be without its mother this early on was way too early,” she said.

She said black bear and grizzly cubs must spend significant time with their mothers — sometimes up to three years.

“It’s always really unfortunate when our job requires that we have to do this with wildlife,” she said. “Sometimes nature is cruel and things happen and we don’t know why. But we try to make the best ethical decisions we can.”

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Gigantic 1,400 Pound Alaskan Brown Bear Wins Fat Bear Week Championship

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There are many who would probably argue that voting in the presidential race is more important than voting for the fattest bear at Katmai National Park.

We take the opposite stance, however.

There are few things more important than marking your ballot for a fat bear.

If you voted, congratulations. There is a winner.

Katmai National Park, which is located in southwest Alaska, named a winner on Tuesday for the annual contest and really there was no contest.

The bear named “747” annihilated the bear named “Chunk” by a 47,055 to 21,854 vote margin.

There is not an Electoral College in the Fat Bear Week contest so there should be no controversy with the outcome (although Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will probably find a reason to call it unfair).

Just how big is 747?  There’s no official weigh-in because officials would probably get their heads ripped-off.

So instead they use a 3D scanner which estimates how big these bears are. 

‘747’ clocks in at just over 1,400 pounds. To put that in perspective, a telephone pole is about 1,000 pounds. A sailboat is around 1,300 pounds. John Daly is 4,500 pounds.

“Few brown bears ever grow as large as the bear who shares an identification number with a jet airplane,” Park Service officials said.

That size is beneficial because he doesn’t have to compete against other bears. He’s the biggest kid on the playground and other bears leave him alone.

“Although dominant bears can maintain their rank in the hierarchy through aggression, 747 typically keeps his status by sheer size alone. Most bears recognize they cannot compete with him physically and they yield space upon his approach,” official said.

“Many staff who’ve worked at Katmai for many years say that [747] is the biggest bear they have ever seen,” Katmai media ranger Naomi Boak told The Washington Post. “It’s pure coincidence that he has the same name as a jumbo jet, but he is the size of a jumbo jet.”

According to acclaimed bear-expert site The Verge, the annual competition was started in 2014 as a way to celebrate how fat and healthy the park’s bears are.

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Black Bear Breaks Into Estes Park YMCA To Raid Refrigerator

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It’s not that uncommon in Estes Park, Colorado. It’s bear country. So bears do what bears do and sometimes they end up in people’s homes or buildings or, in this instance, the YMCA.

That’s what happened on Monday night in the resort town.

It was about 2am and an employee who was working late heard a sound (yes, this is how many horror movies begin) and she went to investigate.

The employee, Anna Williams, said the thought crossed her mind that the sound could have come from a bear (after all, she lives in Estes Park).

“I walked down the hall, and sure enough, there was a giant black bear raiding the fridge,” Williams said on her Facebook page.

“It saw me and wheeled around to try to get out but couldn’t get the door open,” she said. “So I ran back down to my room, called the front desk so security could be alerted.”

In the past, someone might be content behind a locked door when an animal that could rip your head off was on the other side, but not anymore. 

Now, as soon as you gain your wits, the first thing you do, of course, is grab your phone. And that’s what she did.

“It seemed curious as I filmed it, but towards the end I think it felt threatened and trapped. It growled and started charging at me,” she said.

Wisely, at that point, Williams decided to go back in her room and shut the door.

“A little while later I heard security come in and chase it out,” she said.

Williams justified the bear’s actions because he was just looking for some food to get him ready for hibernation.

Sadly, if the bear has become accustomed to looking for food in refrigerators at the YMCA, he may not make it that long to hibernation.

This is the type of bear “the man” takes out.

Here’s hoping the bear sticks to the woods.

Had a late-night visitor last nightEdit: A lot of people are asking, so here’s the story. I work here at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, CO. I worked late Thursday night and hadn’t gotten to sleep yet around 2am. I heard a crash from the lobby, and went to go investigate. I thought it might be a human who needed help. The idea that it was a bear had crossed my mind, but I wanted to make sure so I could call security to report it. I walked down the hall, and sure enough, there was a giant black bear raiding the fridge. It saw me, and wheeled around to try to get out, but couldn’t get the door open. I ran back down to my room, called the front desk so security could be alerted, and then grabbed my phone to document the intruder. It seemed curious as I filmed it, but towards the end I think it felt threatened and trapped. It growled and started charging at me. That’s when I popped back into my room and shut the door. A little while later I heard security come in and chase it out. Black bears can be dangerous in situations where they feel threatened or they feel that their cubs are threatened, but they are generally very skittish animals. For the most part the only reason they even come close to where humans are is to get food. It’s the time of year where the bears are trying to bulk up for the winter, and this guy was just looking for some extra calories to keep him warm during hibernation.

Posted by Anna Williams on Friday, October 2, 2020

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