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Grizzly Bears

Grizzly 399 Will Likely Kick Out Cubs This Spring

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

The most famous grizzly bear in Wyoming is facing an empty nest this year.

Although hibernating now, Bear 399 – northwest Wyoming’s celebrity mama of quadruplet cubs – will most likely say goodbye to some, if not all, of her four babies this summer, according to experts.

“They’ll come out of the den together,” said Dan Thompson, large carnivore biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. “They’ll spend some time together for a while, but with 2-year-olds, usually they (the mama bear) will kick them off, especially when breeding starts in June, and they’ll go their separate ways.”

But Thompson told Cowboy State Daily that this particular grizzly doesn’t always do what’s expected.

“This parent in particular seems to change things very quickly,” he said.

Bear 399 will be 26 years old this year, and Thompson noted that she may be reaching the end of her child-bearing years.

“That’s pretty old for a bear to produce, and be able to forage for them,” he said. “We have documented two females with cubs of the year at age 25 — 399 would have been 24 when she had the four cubs of the year.”

Bear 399 and her cubs have been the focus of many cameras since the quadruplets first appeared two summers ago. Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms are filled with images taken by visitors to Grand Teton National Park — and that often leads to complications for the Game and Fish Department, as well as park rangers. 

Almost a dozen incidents occurred in which Bear 399 and her cubs accessed compost, garbage, beehives and livestock feed and officials are concerned about the “bad” habits 399 might be teaching her cubs.

So the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies have implemented hazing strategies to keep the bruins in line.

“Through the summer and fall, we did a lot of electric fencing with the USDA Wildlife Services around bee apiaries and gardens and other things like that,” Thompson said, “which just reduces that potential for all bears and all wildlife that might be looking for an easy food source.” 

Thompson pointed out that although the fame of Bear 399 and her cubs has caused headaches for some agencies, it’s pushed Game and Fish Department to move forward with projects that will help ensure the safety for other wildlife as well.

“We’re working closely with the county now on expanding their current food storage ordinance to basically county-wide,” he said. “And again, this is for all bears, not just one particular bear and their family. We’ve got the interest right now, we might as well use it – and if we can make an area safer for bears and for people it’s a win-win for everyone. I try to look at the silver linings of these types of situations.”

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Organizations Have Mixed Reaction To Gordon’s Attempt To Delist Grizzlies

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Conservation organizations had a mixed response to Gov. Mark Gordon’s request for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bears from the endangered species list.

Some, like the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, applauded Gordon’s move to officially file the petition Tuesday after months of discussion of the issue.

“This organization and our members are confident in the careful management plan and protections that the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has put forth to carry the grizzly bear into our future,” Jessi Johnson, government affairs director for the WWF, told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday. “The grizzly bear population has well surpassed delisting objectives. Support of science-based management is a cornerstone of the Federation’s mission and we look forward to working with the WGFD to ensure that sportsmen put their best foot forward for the future of grizzly bears, grizzly bear management, and grizzly bear hunting in this state.”

The Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association said the move was “about time.”

“Of course we are in favor,” President Sy Gilliland told Cowboy State Daily. “Management of Wyoming’s wildlife belongs in the hands of the Wyoming Game & Fish Department.”

However, not all wildlife organizations were in favor of the delisting.

Andrea Zaccardi, senior attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, called the request an attack on grizzlies.

“This outrageous request from Wyoming’s governor is the latest attack on animals like grizzly bears by states that see them as little more than targets for trophy hunters,” Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said on Tuesday. “There is no science to back the claim that grizzlies no longer need protection. Federal officials need to send a clear message by swiftly rejecting this request.”

On Tuesday, Gordon officially petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the endangered species list and put their management in the hands of the surrounding states.

The petition, filed with the support of Idaho and Montana, states that grizzly bears in the region have been fully recovered, as defined by federal guidelines, since 2003.

All three members of Wyoming’s congressional delegation support delisting, with all three of them introducing some type of related legislation in Congress.

The FWS has 90 days to review the petition. At that time, the petition can be denied or approved for additional review.

If approved, the FWS can take up to 12 months to further review and analyze the state’s request and come to a final decision. 

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Gordon Submits Petition To Remove Grizzlies From Endangered Species List

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Gov. Mark Gordon on Tuesday officially petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the endangered species list and put their management in the hands of the surrounding states.

The petition, filed with the support of Idaho and Montana, states that grizzly bears in the region have been fully recovered, as defined by federal guidelines, since 2003.

“This is an extraordinary and monumental success story for species recovery and should be celebrated,” Gordon said. “The GYE grizzly bear is ready to join the ranks of the bald eagle, American alligator, peregrine falcon and brown pelican as receiving proper recognition as a thriving, recovered and stable species.”

Gordon reiterated there is no biological or legal reason to keep ecosystem’s grizzly on the Endangered Species List. Data shows that the grizzly population totals more than 1,000 in the region, exceeding the requirements for a recovered, viable population.

“Grizzly bears in the GYE are fully recovered and their management is now best entrusted to the experienced and capable institutions of the states. After all, Wyoming has invested more than $52 million and dedicated countless hours of Game and Fish expertise to reach this point,” Governor Gordon said. “We’re optimistic the Service will view the petition favorably, and we look forward to working with them on delisting.”

The FWS has 90 days to review the petition. At that time, the petition can be denied or approved for additional review.

If approved, the FWS can take up to 12 months to further review and analyze the state’s request and come to a final decision. 

In September, Gordon said he was confident the federal government would side with the states in removing the GYE bears from the list.

“I am optimistic,” he said at the time. “This administration … continues to talk about the science and how we need to follow the science, Wyoming has the very best science so I’ll take them at their word.”

In 1975, there were 136 grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In 2019, there were 728 bears, evidence of an effective conservation effort. At this point, grizzly numbers have been in the 700s for a number of years. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team’s analysis suggests that the park is at or near its ecological carrying capacity for grizzly bears.

Grizzly bears were removed briefly from the endangered species list in 2017, but a federal judge ordered them to be returned to the list, returning management of the animals to the federal government.

Wyoming’s delegation — U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis and U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney — are also unanimous in their support of removing the grizzly from the endangered species at.

Cheney introduced legislation called the “Grizzly Bear State Management Act of 2021,” which would empower states to manage their grizzly populations based on science. Barrasso and Lummis have offered the same legislation in the Senate.

Bears have become so populous in the park and Yellowstone area that it is common for tourists to encounter them every summer. 

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife: Grizzly 399, Cubs Are Likely In Den

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

After being escorted out of Jackson last month, Wyoming’s most famous grizzly bear and her four cubs are likely back in their den for hibernation, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“While we do not have a visual confirmation, based on the latest collar data received from the two yearlings, the Service believes that #399 and yearlings are now at a den site,” USFS spokesman Joe Szuszwalak told Cowboy State Daily on Monday.

Two of 399’s cubs were radio collared in the fall to reduce the chances of human/bear encounters. The group was escorted out of Jackson in November after being spotted near human food sources.

World-renowned photographer Thomas Mangelsen, a champion of the bear family, signaled relief to his followers upon receiving similar news from the Forest Service.

“Following a worrisome autumn of wandering south through ranch lands and neighborhoods, a night time trip through downtown Jackson, and three of the four cubs being trapped, tranquilized, and two radio collared, I am pleased to let you know that Grizzly 399 and all four cubs made it safely to their den,” Mangelsen said.

“399 will turn 26 during January. May she and her four cubs rest peacefully during Wyoming’s long dark winter and may they emerge in the spring to sunshine and warmth,” he said.

Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator Hilary Cooley wasn’t entirely convinced that 399 would stay put but was cautiously optimistic.

“She was in the backcountry and moving a little bit, but it seemed like she was zeroing in on a den site,” Cooley told Jackson Hole Daily. “Just to be clear, we have not gone in there and we don’t want to disturb her, so this is all just from GPS locations and our interpretation of what’s going on. We could be wrong — I hope not — but she could come out tomorrow.”

Hibernation can last anywhere from four to seven months.

This year, the grizzly family was believed to go into hibernation in January and come out in April. The hibernation period was later than usual due to a lack of regular food sources.

As for next year, the federal agency doesn’t have a firm plan as to how they will deal with 399 and her quickly-growing cubs.

“The agencies are going to talk in January and February. We need to take a little breather here and then we’ll see,” Cooley told the newspaper.

Grizzly No. 399, at 25, has been a celebrity in the Jackson area for years, often bringing traffic to a stop as she and her cubs roam in Grand Teton National Park near Jackson. She is believed to have given birth to about 16 cubs, including the four now traveling with her.

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Yellowstone-Area Grizzly Deaths Approach Record

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By Mark Davis, Powell Tribune

Grizzly bears are dying at a record pace in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, but wildlife officials say that’s a sign of a population that has reached its carrying capacity. The leader of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team said this week that, despite the deaths, the grizzly population appears to be growing.

There have been 63 known grizzly bear mortalities in the three-state area in 2021, according to the study team, with 42 deaths reported inside the primary conservation area for the species.

Of the deaths within the Demographic Monitoring Area (DMA), 30 were in Wyoming, including 18 euthanized in management decisions. There were also 21 deaths reported outside the DMA, including 13 management removals in Wyoming.

In 2018, a record 32 grizzly bears were euthanized in Wyoming in management decisions by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. That record could be challenged this year. The most recent report of known and suspected grizzly bear mortalities was published Nov. 4 and the ongoing hunting season, plus the species’ natural drive to fill up before hibernation, typically brings additional human-bear conflicts.

The Fish and Wildlife Service makes all final management decisions on relocations and removals of grizzly bears while they are listed for protections under the Endangered Species Act.

Wyoming Game and Fish large carnivore team leader Dan Thompson isn’t pleased with the sole focus on the number of deaths and removals.

“The use of the term ‘record’ or ‘record high’ is always used when talking about mortality, or removals,” he pointed out. “I never hear the term ‘record high’ when we give the highest population estimate … since tracking them in the 1970s, or highest occupied range of grizzly bears in the GYE since perhaps the 1800s.”

“Records without context lead to false narratives,” Thompson said, adding, “One thing that is continually lost is that there is a focus on mortality, but we don’t talk about reproduction and the several hundred cubs that are born every year and overall high survival rates.”

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team estimates the current population inside the DMA at 1,069 bears, which is a record high population estimate from the team, although the team changed how it makes the estimates in the spring. The low side of their estimate is 953 bears, with a high of 1,184.

Population estimates are not kept outside the conservation zone, but grizzly bears euthanized outside the DMA account for about a third of all lethal removals, according to Frank van Manen, leader of the study team.

Despite the recent removals inside the DMA, van Manen said data shows an increasing population in the ecosystem.

“If you look at the dependent yearling cubs, there are well over 300, and that indicates really solid recruitment into this population,” he said at a Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee meeting Monday.

Overall mortality is still within set limits for the species, he said. “Our mortality rates were below a threshold of 5.7% for independent females and 8.1% of independent males.”

The subcommittee works in cooperation with the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, an interdisciplinary group of scientists and biologists responsible for long-term monitoring and research efforts on grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

The team was formed by the Department of the Interior in 1973, with representatives from the U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribal Fish and Game Department, and the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. 

The interagency approach was used to ensure consistency in data collection and allows for combining limited resources to address needs throughout grizzly bear habitat. However, they are not a governing body or legal authority, said Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Jennifer Fortin-Noreus.

While managers are sometimes forced to turn to euthanizations, there are several non-lethal programs in progress including electric fencing and hazing efforts.

Mike Foster, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services in Wyoming, said his agency is working on a hazing wagon to help control conflicts.

“It will help for the first few days or a week until we can figure out something else to do,” he said.

Cody Regional Health

Foster picked up the idea from the Park County Predator Management Advisory Board, including board member Shane Smith of Powell. Solar panels power the trailers, which are set by timers to activate periodically during the night. Building the apparatus in the back of a trailer allows it to be moved to fields as needed to stem livestock losses.

Meanwhile, “We’ve strung miles and miles of electric fence around chicken coops, and feed yards and pig pens, and you name it,” said Jim White, Idaho Department of Fish and Game regional supervisor.

He added that, “this non lethal work has prevented a tremendous amount of damage and saved a lot of control work.”

Public comments sought for changes to grizzly bear conservation strategy

As more and more visitors pour into the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the need for services and developed spaces increases. More development might seem to be a conflict for officials charged with conserving grizzly bears and their habitat, but they are aware of the needs of the ever- increasing stream of humanity heading this direction and what it means to the endangered species.

Soon the two efforts will meet, as proposed policy changes in the region’s conservation strategy are likely to be updated for the first time in more than a dozen years. The changes allow for more overnight visitors, improvements in developed areas and along roads, as well as other changes to infrastructure within core grizzly bear habitat known as the Demographic Monitoring Area (DMA).

The Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team is poised to have a final vote on changes this spring, after a working draft was presented for public comment during the group’s fall session on Tuesday.

Those seeking to comment on the draft revisions for Chapter 3 have had lots of time to consider their input. The debate has been active since 2016 and seemingly lingering in bureaucracy since.

About 98% of grizzly habitat in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the boundaries of the recovery zone falls within the borders of national parks and forests. The proposed plan gains ground without a net loss of grizzly habitat, said Jennifer Fortin-Noreus, biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

The change is in how developed areas are calculated. Instead of requiring mitigation for every change of one of hundreds of points on a map, each development is measured by its actual footprint. Space for further development is realized within the spatial constraints of the footprints. 

The undeveloped areas “aren’t areas of secure habitat [for grizzlies] at this point,” Fortin-Noreus said. “[Footprints] more accurately define human presence and management intent.”

She also pointed out that, while managers are in charge of protecting habitat, they can’t turn off the increasing stream of visitors.

“We don’t control increased visitation on the national forest,” she said. “We don’t have some automatic way to tell people to stop coming.”

The plan allows for some development without actually requiring the use of tracts of non-developed land. “It gives us the management tools to focus some of our use and concentration in those [realized] areas, and perhaps not in our dispersed sites that can cause more impact,” Fortin-Noreus said.

Those working on the plan see a lot of upside for managers and visitors alike.

“I think it is a really good product,” said Tricia O’Connor, supervisor of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. 

“[It] is trying to thread that needle around, having some management flexibility around developed sites, but doing it carefully with some oversight so that it’s not just you can do whatever you want, wherever you want.”

While the plan was discussed in a public, online meeting, the committee didn’t take formal public comments after the presentation, but did take questions. Bonnie Rice, senior representative for the Sierra Club’s Greater Yellowstone/Northern Rockies campaign, Rice was the only member of the public to speak during the open mic period. She said that more people making overnight stays “obviously raises the number of potential conflicts.”

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Yellowstone Grizzly Population At Record High

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

The grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has never been larger than it is now.

That’s according to the supervisor for the large carnivore section of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Dan Thompson told Cowboy State Daily that new methods of counting wildlife have resulted in a more accurate estimate of the number of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE).

“Through a lot of analysis, and empirical data, we were able to revise those parameters to be more reflective of the actual population size,” he said, “which is 1,069 grizzly bears in the demographic monitoring area.” The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem demographic monitoring area encompasses Northwest Wyoming and parts of Montana and Idaho.

Thompson said the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee reported the new numbers, based on data collected over the summer, to Game and Fish Department officials in a meeting earlier this week.

He said even though previous estimates set the area’s grizzly population at 700 to 750 bears, the methods previously used to count the bears under-reported the actual population. 

“It’s important to relay that the population hasn’t jumped up by several hundred,” Thompson clarified. “It’s just the numbers that we are reporting are more reflective of what is real, based on the data we’ve been collecting for decades.”

Cowboy State Daily reported just a few weeks ago that there have been more grizzly bears killed this year than in previous years – but Thompson said that the actual mortality rate is in line with the higher population.

“This is the highest number of grizzly bears we’ve reported in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem since we started counting them in the 1970s,” Thompson noted. “The successful recovery of grizzly bears is demonstrated by the highest amount of occupied range in the GYE since potentially the 1800s. And so I think there’s a focus on the mortality aspect, and people tend to forget that this is a reflection of more bears, and more bears in new places, and that there’s also more bears being born.”

From the standpoint of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Thompson said the population of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is an ecological success story.

“These bears are biologically recovered and they have been for multiple years,” he said. “And that’s why we support delisting the population to celebrate the successful recovery of the population.”

For years, federal lawsuits have argued whether or not grizzly bears should be taken off the endangered species list. As of this writing, the species is still protected. 

But Thompson said keeping the bears on the list goes against the intent of the Endangered Species Act.

“The intent is to provide the protections needed to recover that specific species or that specific population,” he explained. “And that has been done in the GYE for grizzly bears – and we should be celebrating.”

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Grizzly 399, Cubs Escorted Out Of Jackson This Week

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Grizzly bear 399 and her four cubs received a police escort out of Jackson this week, town officials announced Wednesday.

The popular grizzly family was escorted out of town on Tuesday night by law enforcement officers and officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and herded toward the North Saddle Butte area.

The bears were last reported in the Spring Gulch area and were headed north.

“We hope that she continues in that direction,” stated Jackson Police Chief Michelle Weber. 

The Jackson Police Department shared a video of the grizzlies walking through town on their way out.

The grizzly family has been sighted fairly regularly this year since it came out of hibernation and two of 399’s yearlings were recently collared by wildlife officials in order to better track their movements.

The bears have been spotted near human homes and accessing human sources of food, such as beehives, unsecured animal feed and garbage, according to the Jackson Hole Buckrail.

According to the town of Jackson, garbage in trash cans, left over Halloween pumpkins and bird food are all potential items which bears could feed on as they prepare for hibernation. Receiving a food reward conditions bears to associate food with people, which can lead to destructive or dangerous behaviors.

“This is a good reminder to urge residents in the town and county to please not leave garbage outside, remove pumpkins, birdfeeders and anything that bears may be attracted to,” Weber said.

In order to reduce possible bear conflicts store garbage in certified bear resistant containers or in a secure building or enclosure at all times. In addition, hang bird feeders with a catch pan, at least 10 feet from the ground, deck railing or patio and 4 feet away from any tree, post, or support structure.

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Grizzly Bear Killed At Grand Teton After Becoming Food Conditioned

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A 4-year-old female grizzly bear was killed on Saturday by Grand Teton National Park officials after repeatedly entering areas frequented by humans in search of food, officials announced this week.

The decision to kill the bear was made after it received numerous food rewards from unsecured sources, causing it to exhibit increasingly bold behavior. This behavior caused the bear to pose a threat to human safety and therefore it was killed, the park said.

Over the course of two years, the grizzly received multiple food rewards and grew more aggressive in its searches for food in populated areas.

In October 2020, the bear obtained food from a private residence south of the park. This fall, the grizzly took food from other private lands and caused property damage.

The bear eventually grew bolder in its attempts to obtain human food, breaking into bear-resistant dumpsters in the park.

Once a bear obtains food from human sources — referred to as “food rewards” — it can become “food conditioned”. Food rewards can include human food, trash, livestock feed, compost, pet food, beehives and more.

Over time, food conditioned bears may become bold or aggressive in their attempts to obtain human food, as was the case with this bear.

Park officials made the decision to capture and remove the animal under terms of the Interagency Grizzly Bear guidelines and the park’s bear and wildlife management plan. On Oct. 16, the grizzly bear was captured by Grand Teton park staff and euthanized.

As the grizzly bear population continues to expand in the southern end of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, bears continue to disperse outside of Grand Teton National Park.

As of August, 27 bears had been euthanized due to conflicts with humans, killed by other bears, hit by cars or drowned in canals so far in 2021. Another five carcasses that were found are suspected to have died in late 2020.

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Woman Gets Jail Time For Getting Too Close to Grizzly Bears

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

An Illinois woman who was caught on video getting too close to grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park earlier this year received four days in jail as punishment this week.

Samantha R. Dehring, 25, pleaded guilty to willfully remaining, approaching, and photographing wildlife within 100 yards. The other count, feeding, touching, teasing, frightening or intentionally disturbing wildlife, was dismissed.

Dehring appeared in front of Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming on Wednesday for her change of plea and sentencing hearing.

She was sentenced to four days in custody, one-year of unsupervised probation and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, a $1,000 community service payment to the Yellowstone Forever Wildlife Protection Fund, a $30 court processing fee and a $10 assessment.

Dehring also received a one-year ban from Yellowstone National Park.  

According to the violation notices, Dehring was at Roaring Mountain in Yellowstone National Park on May 10, when visitors noticed a sow grizzly and her three cubs.

While other visitors slowly backed off and got into their vehicles, Dehring remained. She continued to take pictures as the sow bluff charged her.  

“Wildlife in Yellowstone National Park are, indeed, wild. The park is not a zoo where animals  can be viewed within the safety of a fenced enclosure. They roam freely in their natural habitat  and when threatened will react accordingly,” said Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray.  “Approaching a sow grizzly with cubs is absolutely foolish. Here, pure luck is why Dehring is a  criminal defendant and not a mauled tourist.” 

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.

According to Yellowstone National Park regulations, when an animal is near a trail, boardwalk, parking lot, or in a developed area, give it space. Stay 25 yards away from all large animals – bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes and at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves.

If need be, turn around and go the other way to avoid interacting with a wild animal in close proximity.

This case was investigated by Yellowstone National Park Rangers and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie Hambrick.

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Grizzly Sow Shot & Killed in Idaho; Two Cubs Left On Their Own

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Another day, another dead bear in the Rocky Mountain West.

This time hunters in Idaho stumbled upon a grizzly sow and her two cubs on Thursday morning in the Stamp Creek Meadows Road area of Island Park in the Caribou Targhee National Forest.

When the sow charged the two, one hunter pulled out bear spray while the other was able to reach his firearm and mortally wound the animal.

The Idaho Fish and Game department said neither hunter was injured during the encounter.

The cubs were able to scramble away into the Stamp Meadows wilderness in the Caribou Targhee National Forest about 40 miles west of Yellowstone.

“Everything seems to point that this a case of self-defense,” an Idaho Fish and Game spokesman said. “We are trying to find the cubs and make a plan on what to do with them.”

Depending on the age of the cubs, the options could be limited. The odds of survival for first-year cubs without a mother in the wild are slim.

In Wyoming, two first-year cubs will likely die because their mother was killed by a motorist earlier this month and if wildlife officials capture them, they will be euthanized.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department officials explained that would be their only option as there is no place to put the bears if captured.

There are very few facilities with room for grizzlies, John Heine, director of the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center, in West Yellowstone, Montana, told the Powell Tribune. Once a grizzly is taken on, it’s a “lifetime commitment — and it’s rare a spot opens up for an addition to a zoo,” he said. “There are not enough spots available.” 

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