Category archive

Grizzly Bears

Grizzly 399: Still An Imposing Bear At The Old Age of 26

in News/Grizzly Bears
Photo By Jorn Vangoidtsenhoven
21166

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jorn Vangoidtsenhoven
Guest column, Cowboy State Daily

Recently, I observed the grizzly ‘mating dance’ in Grand Teton National Park.

In the case of celebrity grizzly sow 399 and her suitor, a big boar known as Bruno, it was quite the spectacle.

The short version of the story: she wasn’t interested, he didn’t want to take ‘no’ for an answer.

While I had them in my sights for almost 4 hours straight, the behavior was consistent: 399 grazed almost non-stop while Bruno hovered near her, not eating a thing and only having eyes for her.



399 got fed up with Bruno several times, she faked running in one direction and then sprinted away from him in the other direction. Bruno, however, didn’t flinch.  Wherever 399 ran, he followed her.

On one of their ‘runs’, they ran straight in my direction.  

If you ever wondered what it looks like when a grizzly comes running at you full sprint, I have it on camera.  Those images are coming soon.

As she and Bruno ran very close to my parked car, I also got a close-up of 399’s teeth.

Unfortunately, one of the leading causes of death for grizzly bears is tooth decay, followed by starvation.

Based on these close-ups of 399’s teeth, who is currently an ‘old’ grizzly at the age of 26, it’s anyone’s guess how much time she has left …

Follow John at his website and on Facebook.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Male Adult Grizzly Killed Grand Teton Grizzly Blondie’s Three Cubs

in News/Grizzly Bears
21086

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A male grizzly bear has likely killed three cubs of a popular female grizzly in Grand Teton National Park, park officials said this week.

Grizzly 793, also known as “Blondie,” was last seen with her three cubs on Friday night, according to Jack Bayles, who runs the “Team 399” website.

On Saturday morning, a bear thought to be Blondie was seen moving rapidly around an area in the park.

“The thought is that Blondie lost her cubs to a male bear on Friday night or early Saturday morning and was looking for them,” Bayles said on social media this week.

Bayles told one of his social media followers that a male bear was likely cause of the cubs’ demise.

“It is the single leading cause of baby bears,” Bayles said.

Males can kill young animals for a variety of reasons, including having the ability to mate with a mother who is no longer nursing, a need for food or a lack of resources for the entire den.

Initially, Bayles was unsure if the lone grizzly was Blondie or her daughter, grizzly 1063, also known as “Fritter,” but said park officials confirmed Fritter still had her collar, so the solo grizzly must have been Blondie.

According to Bayles, Blondie is around 13 years old, meaning she has another 5 to 10 years of life, although grizzly 399 is 26 years old. She has had several cubs throughout her lifetime so far.

Neither Bayles nor Grand Teton spokesman Jeremy Barnum returned Cowboy State Daily’s requests for comment on Thursday.

While not quite as famous as her fellow Grand Teton resident grizzly 399, Blondie is one of the most famous bears in the park and is one of its most popular, if elusive, attractions.

In late May, a female grizzly bear and her mate attacked a 3-year-old bear, causing injuries severe enough that the National Park Service decided to euthanize the animal.

Utah photographer Julie Argyle said at the time that bear 815 and her male mate attacked the 3-year-old bear after the sub-adult wouldn’t leave an area.

“This is the first time I’ve heard of 815 being aggressive like this,” Argyle said. “But the situation is that it’s mating season, food sources are scarce and it’s her territory.”

She believed that the mother bear was attempting to frighten the bear away from the area, but when the male bear entered the altercation, things became deadly.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department large carnivore specialist Dan Thompson told Cowboy State Daily at the time that it is not uncommon for mother bears and their mates to attack their young.

“As the overall density of grizzly bears has increased within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, we see more instances of what we call ‘intraspecific strife’ such as this,” he said. “These natural occurrences are another indicator of density dependence that is exhibited when a population is at carrying capacity.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Grizzly Bear Attacked By Mother, Mate In Yellowstone; National Park Service Euthanize

in News/Grizzly Bears
20033

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A young female grizzly bear was attacked and mortally wounded by its mother and the mother’s mate over the weekend in Yellowstone National Park, a Utah photographer told Cowboy State Daily on Monday.

Julie Argyle said bear 815 and her male mate attacked the 3-year-old bear after the sub-adult wouldn’t leave an area.

“This is the first time I’ve heard of 815 being aggressive like this,” Argyle said. “But the situation is that it’s mating season, food sources are scarce and it’s her territory.”

She believed that the mother bear was attempting to frighten the bear away from the area, but when the male bear entered the altercation, things became deadly.

Argyle noted that the two older bears actually did not kill the younger one, but left it injured to the point she was euthanized by the National Park Service.

“Her injuries were too much for her to handle and she was suffering in an awful way so the National Park Service put her down in an effort to end her suffering,” she said.

She added that the young bear had been kicked out of its den by bear 815 last summer, so it has been on its own for a year.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department large carnivore specialist Dan Thompson told Cowboy State Daily that it is not uncommon for mother bears and their mates to attack their young.

“As the overall density of grizzly bears has increased within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, we see more instances of what we call ‘intraspecific strife’ such as this,” he said. “These natural occurrences are another indicator of density dependence that is exhibited when a population is at carrying capacity.”

Argyle posted about the bear’s death on her wildlife photography page in order to bring awareness to the fact that the wildlife people see in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks are exactly that – wild.

“This is a natural thing, it just happened to occur close to a road where people saw it,” she said. “I think this is a great wake up call for people who try to get too close to these animals. We’re viewing them as something that isn’t a wild animal and they definitely are.”

According to the Yellowstone Grizzly Project, bear 815 was collared by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team in 2015. At the time of her capture, there were no cubs present, but she was seen with three in 2016.

Yellowstone officials did not respond to Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment by publication time on Monday.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

399 Cub Hazed On Friday After Family Breaks Up

in News/Grizzly Bears
19829

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

One of famed grizzly bear 399’s cubs was hazed away from a Jackson residential area last week, just days after the bear family split up for good.

The cub, one of the two that were collared back in November, was frightened out of a Jackson subdivision on Friday morning by a vehicle and “cracker shells,” shotgun shells that explode and shoot sparks in the air, Wyoming Game and Fish grizzly biologist Dan Thompson told Cowboy State Daily on Monday.

“The bear left the area and crossed the river, heading back north,” Thompson said. “This is nothing new or unique, as hazing and aversive conditioning have been part of grizzly bear conservation for over four decades.”

Thompson added that the Game and Fish Department staff is repeating its plea for the public to give the 399 cubs, along with all other bears and wildlife, plenty of space.

“Pressuring bears is a detriment to them and people and can result in very negative circumstances for both species,” Thompson said.

Jack Bayles, co-founder of the Team 399 website, told Cowboy State Daily on Monday that while hazing can be hard for humans to watch, it is also a necessity at times.

“The sooner the cubs learn to stay out of the neighborhoods, the longer they will live,” he said.

Last week, Team 399 reported that 399 and her four youngest cubs were in the process of separating as the yearlings begin to age into adulthood. Additionally, 399 seems to have a new male suitor, which Team 399 has affectionally nicknamed “Bruno.”

Thompson told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that this was a pretty common occurrence among bears, with the elder ones courting and the younger ones leaving the den to make a life as an independent bear.

“Sometimes the movement away from the maternal female takes a little more ‘coaxing’ to leave, but it is natural for two-year-old-offspring to leave the mother,” he said. “With a large litter like this, some of the siblings may travel together for a bit or separate, depending on sex and food availability”

Thompson added that male bears tend to naturally disperse from their natal area, while females usually try to develop a home range near their mothers.

“There may be some commingling and reunions in the next few days or weeks, but those young should be independent from her the majority of the summer and rest of their lives,” Thompson said.

Thompson previously said that he did not necessarily expect 399 to breed again since she is relatively old for a bear at 26, but also noted that she continues to surprise both staff at the Game and Fish Department and Grand Teton National Park.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

That’s A Wrap: Grizzly 399 And Her Cubs Separate

in News/Grizzly Bears
Final photo of 399 and all four cubs together. Photo by Team 399.
19756

By Team 399
Republished with permission

It’s been a crazy 10 days with 399 and her cubs, but I’ll start by saying that at least one cub, 1058 (yellow ear tags) is completely separated and the other three cubs are well in to the process of being involuntarily separated and may now be completely separated.

399 came back in to GTNP last Monday, moving quickly through the Moose area before spending the night north of Schwabacher Landing. Tuesday morning a large boar was at Elk Ranch Flats on 926’s scent. He ended up crossing 89 and heading west toward the Snake River at about Cunningham Cabin. He was on a possible intercept course with 399.

Late on Tuesday afternoon we saw 399 and the cubs running northbound at Potholes. She was clearly in a hurry. She ended up spending Tuesday night on Signal Mountain.

She hurriedly crossed the Snake River below the Jackson Lake dam on Wednesday morning and headed north in to Willow Flats. A large male crossed the Snake on Thursday less than 24 hours later. He appeared to be on a mission.

We briefly saw 399 at the north end of Pilgrim Flats on Thursday morning.

Late on Friday morning 399 appeared near the base of the dam again. She slowly worked her way eastward to Upper Oxbow by Friday night. Someone apparently saw a large male near the Wormhole on Friday evening.

399 and the cubs spent Saturday going back and forth between Lozier Hill and Upper Oxbow, waking up Sunday morning high up on Lozier Hill. She eventually worked her way west toward the area east of the Jackson Lake Lodge. She was seen in that area at distance on Monday as well.

On Tuesday morning 399 and all four cubs showed up in the willows north of Jackson Lake Junction before moving across the road in to Willow Flats. All 5 were visible for about 90 minutes before moving northward in to Willow Flats. They were at Pilgrim Creek heading north in to the trees at about 3 p.m.

Yesterday morning someone saw 399 and 3 cubs on the road at Signal Mountain heading south. There was a 5th hand report that she and all four cubs were at Deadman’s Bar in the late morning.

One of our previous guests had a bear in the southern part of the park last evening, but no identification was made. This morning there were several reports of bears near Moose. The long and the short of it is that 399 and three of the cubs were in the area and 399 was seen with a large boar. She was without the cubs. 399 hung out with this male at great distance at most of the day. They appeared to mate though they were behind some trees. They were grazing together at about 5:30 p.m. and all seemed peaceful. 399 suddenly alerted and started running north. Some 90 seconds later all three cubs came running out of the trees toward 399. Rather than receiving her cubs 399 tried to run them off with the large male in tow. We lost track of one cub, but 399 was successful in drawing the male off of the cubs and deep in to the woods. Two of the cubs stayed together and also headed south. We didn’t see where the last cub ended up.

In talking with the bear managers, there is collar data to show that 1058 stayed behind in the Pilgrim Creek area – we wonder if he will hook up with Fritter like 1022 and 1028 did last year. Also, the large male cavorting with 399 is not the Bruno we think of.

That’s what we have.

Follow Team 399 on their website and on their Facebook page.

Man Stumbles On To Grizzly While Hiking in Yellowstone; Acts Smart, Does Not Get Mauled

in News/Grizzly Bears
19481

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Wyoming Game and Fish Department bear biologist is praising a hiker for his reaction to a close encounter with a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park on Monday, saying the man did the right thing by staying far back from the animal.

Stan Mills is a hiker who regularly posts about his Yellowstone excursions on YouTube and on Tuesday, he uploaded a video in which he had a “friendly” grizzly bear encounter inside of the park.

“Friendly” meaning that Mills didn’t get his head ripped-off. But he was much closer to the bear than he should have been — less than 30 yards.

He said he didn’t intend to get so close. He just came upon the grizzly. Or, more accurately, it the grizzly came upon him.

“I was sitting in the rain under my poncho just kinda gazing off into the distance while resting under a tree when I took a look to my left,” Mills said on his YouTube channel.

“I immediately saw a grizzly walking towards me. I was not very visible to the bear because I was under my poncho but the grizzly finally spotted me from the movement I was making while going after my bear spay and then my camera,” he said.

An experienced hiker, Mills said he knew that one should never get within 100 yards of a bear but when surprise encounters happen, “you have no choice and you have to do the right thing.”

“As most people know, my thinking is to never do anything that can upset a grizzly. So I moved away at the opportune time. It turned out to be another great experience in the backcountry of Yellowstone,” he said.

“The Right Thing”

Dan Thompson, large carnivore biologist for the state Game and Fish Department, told Cowboy State Daily that Mills did the right thing by staying away from the bear and filming it from a reasonable distance.

“You’re trying to dissuade a surprise encounter,” Thompson said. “So if you see the bear to begin with, that’s a good thing. You don’t want to act aggressively toward a bear just standing there, because then they might act aggressively back.”

That’s similar to what noted Wyoming outdoorsman Paul Ulrich said when discussing the grizzly encounter a group of cyclists had only two days before in Glacier National Park. Except those cyclists were less than 10 yards away from a grizzly.

“Because they stayed calm, everything turned out ok,” Ulrich said.

Thompson said that while it is incredible to see wildlife such as grizzlies or moose out in the open, those recreating outdoors need to be aware of their surroundings and be prepared of a potential encounter, including carrying bear spray.

If not, it could mean negative consequences for both a person and the wild animal.

“Most people are really good about it, but there are some bad apples that take advantage of the scenario,” Thompson said.

This is not the first time Mills has encountered a grizzly in the park, as evidenced by some of his most popular videos which include grizzly footage.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Grizzly Joins Cyclists on Bike Ride In Montana, Everyone Survives

in News/Grizzly Bears
19429

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily
All photos and video courtesy Maureen Gerber

It wasn’t what Maureen Gerber expected when she went out on her day-after-birthday ride along the “Going-To-The-Sun” Road in Montana’s Glacier National Park with her husband and two friends Sunday.

But it was a bike ride she wouldn’t forget.  

The foursome had ridden 13 miles up to where the road was still closed due to snow and were heading back down when they were joined by a grizzly going the other way.

There was no real way to pass the bear, Gerber said.  No way around it either. On one side of the road, there was a river.  On the other side, all woods — thick woods. No cell service.



Gerber’s husband and his friend, who were in front of Gerber and another woman by a few hundred yards, had spotted the grizzly.  They went back up the road to let their wives know.

They weren’t alone.  Others had spotted the grizzly, too, and stopped.  

The group, about 15, including some children, decided to pull over at an expanded shoulder and barricade themselves behind their bikes.

“So we put our bikes down and got behind them while others stood up with their bear spray and we all made noise,” Gerber said.

“It was pretty scary,” she said.


The bear, meanwhile, looked at the cyclists but didn’t appear to give them much thought as he meandered past them.

“We were just sitting there,” Gerber said.  “Everyone was shaking.”

Except her husband. Although vigilant with bear spray in hand, he steadily took a video of the bear walking past the group.

Gerber thought the bear seemed sleepy — like he just awakened from hibernation.

“He was kind of dopey, you know?” she said. 



Not everyone is that fortunate. There has already been a fatality from a grizzly bear encounter earlier this year in Montana. And last year, a woman was dragged out of her sleeping bag by a grizzly in the middle of the night about 140 miles south of Glacier National Park.

Noted Wyoming outdoorsman Paul Ulrich said the group of bicyclists did exactly the right thing. Confronting a grizzly is the last thing one should do, he said.

“That might work with a cow or a deer,” Ulrich said. “But trying to scare off a grizzly is a bad strategy.”

He said by making “consistent noise,” not making any sudden moves, and portraying calm is what one should do in that situation.

“The last thing you want to do is jump out and try to startle a grizzly in an attempt to show dominance,” Ulrich said. “You will get slaughtered — and fast. Trust me on this.”

Throwing one of your colleagues in the grizzly’s path is another strategy, he said, but not preferred.

“More than once, I’ve been in a situation where the easiest thing to do was to shoot my friend in the knee and get out of there,” he said. “But that’s not the ideal solution. That should be your last resource.”

As for the bear encounter, Gerber said it was humbling.

Originally from New Jersey, she said she was surprised to hear from her friends who have lived in Montana their entire lives that they’ve never been that close to a grizzly.

“These guys have lived out here for 60 years and they tell me they’ve never come that close,” Gerber said. “I guess because I’m originally from the East Coast, I thought this happened all the time.  I guess it was a big deal.”

The Game and Fish Department was not available for comment.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Grizzly 399, Cubs Head South From Grand Teton, Likely For Last Time As Family

in News/Grizzly Bears
19099

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Famed grizzly bear 399 and her four cubs have left the confines of Grand Teton National Park and are heading south, likely the last time they will do so as a family pack.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department grizzly bear biologist Dan Thompson told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that the 2-year-old cubs will likely separate from their mother sometime this spring and head off on their own.

“They’ve been following the Snake River corridor,” Thompson said. “They’re traveling together now, but that could change. They could go off in different directions, but a lot of things could happen.”

The bears were first seen out of their den right around Easter, meaning they spent less than a week in the park before heading south.

Thompson did not know the sex of the four offspring, but said he believed at least two of the yearlings are male.

Since 399 and her cubs have been known for getting into food sources associated with humans, such as garbage and beehives, Thompson expressed concern for the cubs once they break away from their mother.

“They’re sub-adults, so there will be a couple years where they’re going to try and obtain a resident home range, so they probably won’t be a part of the breeding process just yet,” he said. “It would be great if they just disappeared off into the woods and went about being bears and we never heard from them again.

“But based on their behavior and habituation that we’ve seen…there’s a high chance for recidivism,” Thompson continued.

However, he noted the department has done considerable work in Teton County to try to keep potential bear attractants secure from not only 399 and her cubs, but the rest of the grizzly and black bear population.

This week, Wyoming Wildlife Advocates announced it would provide every resident in Teton County, regardless of income, a bear-proof trash can that would cut down on human/bear interactions.

WWA executive director Kristin Combs did not immediately return Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Friday.

Once the cubs break away from 399, Thompson said she will likely go on, living life as usual and doing what bears do: eating.

He did not necessarily expect her to breed again since she is relatively old for a bear, 26, but he also noted that she continues to surprise both staff at the Game and Fish Department and Grand Teton National Park.

“We’ve had bears live into their 30s, but that’s pretty rare,” Thompson said. “For female bears, once they hit 25, you start seeing some senescence (deterioration of characteristics). If she’s healthy, she could possibly breed again, but it also depends on what her teeth look like and a lot of other factors.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

First Grizzly Spotted At Grand Teton National Park, Other Bears Following Suit

in News/Grizzly Bears
18082

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The first grizzly bear sighting at Grand Teton National Park occurred last week, as many male bears begin to emerge from hibernation across the country.

The first sighting in the park was reported on March 13, Grand Teton officials said.

Adult male grizzlies typically emerge from hibernation around this time of year, while females and their young leave the den around April or early May.

The most famous mother bear in Wyoming, Grizzly 399, and her four cubs likely won’t emerge from their den for another few weeks.

Experts believe the mother grizzly will likely send her four youngest cubs out of the den this year once they leave hibernation.

“They’ll come out of the den together,” Dan Thompson, large carnivore biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, previously told Cowboy State Daily. “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 said 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 (in 2020).”

When bears leave their dens, they search for food and often scavenge animals carcasses. Bears might display aggressive behavior during this time, if encountered while feeding.

“Bear season has begun, how it ends depends on all of us,” said Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Chip Jenkins. “We welcome the community led effort to work across boundaries to protect bears in Jackson Hole, and we need everyone’s help to remove unsecured attractants from the valley.”

The first Yellowstone National Park grizzly sighting occurred earlier this month.

There are estimated to be more than 1,000 grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

A beloved male grizzly known as “Boo” recently awakened from hibernation at the Kicking Horse Bear Refuge in British Columbia, Canada. This is Boo’s 20th spring.

Black bears were spotted coming out of hibernation, and getting into mischief, at a home in New Hampshire, according to news outlet WMUR.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wildlife Group Criticizes Wyoming Game And Fish For 30 Grizzly Kills In 2021

in News/Grizzly Bears
17763

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is being criticized by a wildlife organization for killing 30 grizzly bears in 2021.

The department released its annual grizzly bear report this week, which showed 45 bears were captured in 2021 in 49 separate incidents. Four bears were captured more than once.

Of those 45 bears, 30 were killed by the department, with at least one being killed due to its sick and emaciated state.

In 2020, only 18 grizzlies were killed by the department, while in 2018, 32 were killed.

The report said that 17 of the 30 bears killed were found outside of the demographic monitoring area, the area considered suitable for the long-term viability of grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Bears are killed after the department receives authorization from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service “after careful and thorough deliberation taking into account multiple factors unique to each conflict situation.” Reasons for killing grizzlies include that they have grown used to getting food from human sources or that they have killed livestock.

The Center for Biological Diversity spokeswoman Andrea Zaccardi told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday that it was disappointing to see the department chose to kill so many bears last year.

“Lethal removal of a grizzly bear is supposed to be a last resort,” she said. “But more than 50% of the bears that were captured were killed. So that kind of struck me as not using removal as a last resort.”

Game and Fish biologist Dan Thompson said it is never ideal when the department has to kill a bear.

“We do a lot of work to try to not capture or kill a bear,” he told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday. “But the fact of the matter is with a healthy, robust, increasing grizzly population and more human use of areas that grizzly bears now occupy, there’s an increased conflict potential.”

Thompson pointed out that the department has actually seen a significant decrease in certain grizzly conflicts, such as the bears getting into garbage or causing property damage, in the last decade.

However, a significant increase in grizzly killings of livestock has occurred, Thompson said. He added the bears see livestock as a tasty and easy meal.

“You can’t capture all the work that’s done to mitigate the conflicts in the report,” he said. “The real meat of what is done throughout the course of the year is talking to livestock producers and working with people to reduce conflict potential.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Time To Wake Up: Yellowstone Has First Grizzly Bear Sighting Of 2022

in News/Grizzly Bears
NPS/Kimberly Shields
17716

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Although the calendar says spring is less than two weeks away, Wyomingites know better. We’re nowhere close.

But one grizzly in Yellowstone is far more optimistic and is embracing the potential of a seasonal change. The adult bear was spotted by a pilot on Monday walking in a meadow in the west-central portion of the park.

Actually, it’s not unusual for grizzlies to be spotted this early. Last year, the first reported sighting was on March 13.

Male grizzlies come out of hibernation in early while females wait until April and May to head-out.

As always, park officials are urging the public to use caution around bears lest they become statistics.

“When bears emerge from hibernation, they look for food and often feed on elk and bison that died over the winter,” the park service said. “Sometimes, bears will react aggressively to encounters with people when feeding on carcasses.”

In other words, stay away from the bears. They aren’t interested in making friends.

On popular Yellowstone Facebook pages, the conversation immediately turned to the most famous bear in the world “399” and her four cubs.

Biologists say it will be a few weeks before they emerge and when they do, it’s not likely they will stay together as a family for very long.

“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.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Grizzly 399 Will Likely Kick Out Cubs This Spring

in News/Grizzly Bears
16326

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

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.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

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

in News/Grizzly Bears
Grizzly Bear
16311

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

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. 

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Gordon Submits Petition To Remove Grizzlies From Endangered Species List

in News/Mark Gordon/Grizzly Bears
16292

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

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. 

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

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

in News/Grizzly Bears
15766

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

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.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Yellowstone-Area Grizzly Deaths Approach Record

in News/Grizzly Bears
15039

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

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.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Yellowstone Grizzly Population At Record High

in News/Grizzly Bears
15000

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

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.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Grizzly 399, Cubs Escorted Out Of Jackson This Week

in News/Grizzly Bears
14979

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

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.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Grizzly Bear Killed At Grand Teton After Becoming Food Conditioned

in News/Grizzly Bears
14415

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

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.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Woman Gets Jail Time For Getting Too Close to Grizzly Bears

in Yellowstone/News/Grizzly Bears/Crime
14058

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

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.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

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

in News/Grizzly Bears
13651

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

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.” 

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Three Bears Hit By Cars Last Week Between Cody & Yellowstone

in News/Grizzly Bears
13511

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Record traffic and an increased presence of bears on the highway between Cody and Yellowstone National Park are being blamed in part for the deaths of two bears, including one grizzly, earlier this month.

Three bears were hit by cars between Sept. 10 and 12 and two died, according to Luke Ellsbury, a large carnivore biologist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

“We initially had a call on Friday morning (Sept. 10) of a grizzly bear that was hit on the North Fork, struck by a vehicle,” he said. “Upon investigation, we found it was a young female grizzly bear, 5 to 6 years old, had not had cubs that we knew of and didn’t look like she currently had cubs. 

“And so that led to the next day, on Saturday morning (Sept. 11), where we received a report of a black bear that had been hit on the North Fork, it appeared to be an adult male black bear,” he continued. “It was probably feeding the chokecherries along the road there.”

Ellsbury said a third bear was hit by a vehicle Sunday, Sept. 12, but it bounded away from the scene of the collision.

“It ran down the hill out of a patch of chokecherries, trying to cross the highway,” he said, “and as it did it ran into the side of their camper, then rolled down the side of the camper, and then got up and ran over to the other side of the road and into the brush.”

Berries and chokecherries are prime foods for bears trying to put on weight for the winter. But when chokecherry bushes grow close to the road, that increases the hazards for bears — and for vehicles, Ellsbury said.

“This is the time of year where bears come out of the high country to the lower country in search of foods, and especially along the North Fork, chokecherries,” he said. “And so there’s a lot of chokecherries along the river corridors, the stream beds. And this was a really good year for chokecherry production. So we’re seeing, in the last week, a big influx of both black bears and grizzly bears along those corridors. And people need to just be aware that there’s a really high use in that area.”

The increase in the population of bears is also a contributing factor to the dangerous conditions on Wyoming highways. 

Ellsbury, who was born and raised in Cody, said he’s seen firsthand the effects of the growing bear population.

“All carnivore populations in this area have really gone up in the last, especially 20, years,” he said. “We see grizzly bears not only expanding in numbers, but in range. So they’re coming further and further out into the base, and we’re seeing them in areas that they probably haven’t been in 100 years. And so it’s just kind of the bonus of having a good recovery, just part of that success story.”

A distraction for drivers on the highway between Cody and Yellowstone lately has been sightings of a pair of grizzly cubs that seem to be motherless. But Ellsbury said as far as wildlife officials can tell, the grizzly bear that was killed on Sept. 10 did not have cubs of her own.

“Actually, she was hit a day after these cubs showed up on their own,” he said. “We’re not currently aware of what the situation was that led to them being orphaned, although it does appear now that there’s been enough time that they are on their own. But we do not know the circumstances behind that.”

Ellsbury cautioned drivers — especially at night — that the highway can be a dangerous place. 

“The first two vehicle strikes happened in the middle of the night,” he pointed out. “We’re not exactly sure at what times they did, but they were at night. The third incident happened about mid-morning on Sunday.”

When drivers do experience wildlife collisions, they should be reported to the local sheriff’s department, the Game and Fish Department or the Forest Service, if the incident occurred in one of Wyoming’s national forests.

“People need to just be aware that not just bears, but a lot of wildlife is along the highway,” he urged. “They just need to be vigilant and watch their speeds, keep their speeds slow, and just keep an eye out.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Motherless Grizzly Cubs In Danger On North Fork Highway

in News/Grizzly Bears
13460

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Mark Davis, Powell Tribune

At least two bears were killed in vehicle collisions on the North Fork Highway over the weekend as visitors continue to flood into Yellowstone National Park. And the lives of two young cubs, now alone in the Shoshone National Forest, hang in the balance.

A grizzly bear sow was struck and killed Friday and a black bear was killed Saturday in the late season rush to visit the park. Bears are gathering in the North Fork corridor of the Shoshone River east of Yellowstone, feeding on a bumper crop of chokecherries, said Luke Ellsbury, large carnivore biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Coincidently, two cubs of the year have been seen frequenting the area surrounding the two-lane highway, apparently without a mother to guide them. Tests conducted on the sow killed Friday found the animal was not the cubs’ mother, but there is some speculation their mother might also have been hit by a vehicle and its body has yet to be found.

The cubs continue to draw a crowd along U.S. Highway 14/16/20, but their future is fairly grim, Ellsbury said.

“Survival for cubs of the year without a mother is pretty low,” he said Tuesday. 

The Game and Fish Department has considered its limited options and currently has no plans to attempt to capture the cubs.

“There’s nowhere to take them,” Ellsbury said.

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 Tribune for a recent story. 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.” 

If the Game and Fish is forced to capture the abandoned cubs, they would have to be euthanized. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ultimately makes the final decisions on what happens to grizzly bears because they are a federally protected species under the Endangered Species Act.

The spectacle is causing a bear jam, and yet traffic is still moving fast through the area, placing wildlife and people in jeopardy, Ellsbury said.

Wildlife photographer Tim O’Leary found the grizzly sow killed Friday and dragged it off the road.

“With my photography, there’s two things that I try to avoid: power lines and roads,” he said.

But O’Leary intentionally photographed the cubs while they were on the North Fork Highway because “this story must be told,” he said. 

He’s afraid the cubs and other bears will be hit and killed as they circle between the river, berry bushes and cover.

“Traffic is just flying through there,” O’Leary said.

Yellowstone National Park has been breaking attendance records every month this summer. In August, 921,844 recreation vists were counted in the park, roughly 40,000 visits more than the same month last year. It’s easy to blame tourists, he said, but there are many locals driving way too fast through the area as well.

“If they put up a sign about bears on the road and to slow down, I think that would help,” he said.

Biologists for Game and Fish are often tasked with euthanizing grizzly bears. So far this year, the U.S. Geological Survey reports 25 grizzly bears have been put down for frequenting agricultural areas, killing sheep and cattle, for property damage, obtaining numerous food rewards, repeated bold behavior at guest lodges and trailheads, and property damage while searching for food. Fifteen of those killed were inside habitat deemed suitable by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and known as the Demographic Monitoring Area (DMA). Eleven more grizzly bears were euthanized outside of the DMA.

More grizzlies could meet the same fate due to increasing conflicts in the fall and the growing population of the large predator species.

“It’s that time of year when conflicts increase as grizzly bears are looking for food sources,” Ellsbury said.

The department has moved several bears this year, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to find safe areas. In the past decade, there have been fewer bears moved, according to Dan Thompson, who heads up the large carnivore section for the Game and Fish.

“The ability to find available habitat is more difficult as the species has reached its carrying capacity inside core habitat,” he said. 

It’s especially difficult now as more people are seeking outdoor recreation during the pandemic.

“The thing we’re dealing with now is, 20 years ago relocation was a lot different because there weren’t near as many bears,” Thompson said. “There was more open home range areas, and you could move a bear and find a place for it to live. Nowadays, it’s just hard to do that.”

The Game and Fish Department captured and relocated an adult male grizzly bear on Saturday, according to a Tuesday press release. The bear was captured for killing cattle on a U.S. Forest Service grazing allotment north of Pinedale and relocated to the Five Mile Creek drainage, approximately 5 miles from Yellowstone’s East Entrance.

“Bears that are considered a threat to human safety are not relocated,” the release said, adding that grizzly bear relocation is a management tool that’s “critical to the management of the population.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

399 And Cubs Spotted in Park; Tour Bus Passengers Go Berserk

in News/Grizzly Bears
12666

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

At Cowboy State Daily, we have received emails asking us why there aren’t as many stories this summer about the grizzly known as 399 and her four cubs who make their home in Grand Teton National Park.

Although we haven’t quantified media coverage or social media posts from year-to-year about the celebrity bear family, anecdotally it does seem like there could be some truth to the idea they just aren’t getting the attention this year they have in the past.

Maybe it’s because individuals are heeding the advice of wildlife advocates who have asked people not to document their sightings of the bears when the group is outside Grand Teton National Park.

Or it could be that the bears are more reclusive this year as the cubs have grown larger and less prone to attack by male bears.

Regardless, a group of tourists went absolutely berserk on Wednesday when the fivesome strode past their traffic-jammed tourbus on Wednesday.

Similar to Sesame Street (outside of the shrieks of “oh my God!”), passengers counted each bear as they walked across the highway.

“Look at them! There’s another one! There’s another one! WAHHHHHH! There’s the fourth one. WHAT? Is that four or five? Oh my God! WAHHHHHHH! I can’t believe it! Don’t leave! WAHHHHHH!”

Whether anyone knew the credentials of this famous family or not isn’t known. No one in the video clip identified 399 or her brood by name … or number.  

However, someone tipped one of the photographers off because the YouTube video identified the famous bear and said the video was shot near Willow Flats in Grand Teton National Park.

Fans of the bears will be grateful to learn they are still located in the park.  Advocates get concerned when the group goes beyond the boundaries because of traffic, the increased possibility of interaction with people, and unnatural food rewards.

Noted Wyoming outdoorsman Paul Ulrich said he was pleased no one got out of their car to take a photograph with any of the bears.

“Make no mistake, any of these bears could rip your head off,” Ulrich said. “I’ve seen it happen too many times.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Grizzly Bear Deaths On The Rise In 2021

in News/Grizzly Bears
12656

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Mark Davis, Powell Tribune

It’s been a tough year for grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. As of Wednesday, 27 individuals 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 have been found that are suspected to have died in late 2020, bringing the total number to 32 known or probable deaths reported this year. That’s more than the 30 grizzly bear deaths reported in all of 2020 — and there are still several months left before the species typically hibernates, including the time period when hunters will be out in the backcountry areas.

Dry conditions mean the bruins might be more aggressive in search of food, said Luke Ellsbury, large carnivore biologist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

“Drought means a busier fall because bears will be more food-stressed,” Ellsbury said, adding, “We’re busier than average this year.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service makes the call on management actions for the species due to being listed for federal protections under the Endangered Species Act. But Game and Fish biologists are tasked with capturing, moving or euthanizing bears selected to be relocated or removed from the ecosystem.

So far this year, 17 grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem have been euthanized including 16 in Wyoming. A total of 13 grizzlies were euthanized last year, with nine in Wyoming, in a year that saw a below-average number of lethal removals.

Cody Regional Health

Bears are captured when they become aggressive, kill livestock or receive food rewards and become accustomed to people. Wildlife managers attempt to move grizzlies to more suitable areas when possible.

For instance, on July 23, the department relocated a subadult female to the Five Mile Creek drainage — about 5 miles from Yellowstone National Park’s East Entrance — after it killed cattle on a grazing allotment north of Pinedale.

When relocation is warranted, the department says it considers a bear’s age, sex and the type of conflict it was involved in, as well as potential human activity in the vicinity of the relocation site. The Fish and Wildlife Service and the Game and Fish Department say they will not move dangerous bears or those that repeatedly kill livestock or cause conflicts.

“Game and Fish continues to stress the importance of the public’s responsibility in bear management and the importance of keeping all attractants (food items, garbage, horse feed, bird seed, and others) unavailable to bears,” the department says. “Reducing attractants available to bears reduces human-bear conflicts.”

Every known or probable grizzly bear death is tracked by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team team while the species remains listed for federal protections under the Endangered Species Act. In a change to the grizzly bear mortality statistics reporting process, the team has moved its grizzly bear mortality statistics in anticipation of an update to the U.S. Geological Survey website.

New reports are now available in a downloadable PDF document. The reports can be found at on.doi.gov/3xTzgoZ.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Search Continues For Grizzly Who Ripped Woman Out of Tent And Killed Her

in News/Grizzly Bears
11941

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

A full-on search continued on Wednesday for a grizzly bear in Montana who dragged a 65-year-old woman out of her tent in the middle of the night and killed her.

But after two days of intensive search efforts, including the use of helicopters and infrared technology, the bear has escaped without a trace.

Terrifying details of the attack emerged on Wednesday when Montana wildlife authorities and law enforcement personnel discussed the events which led up to the fatal attack of Leah Davis Lokan of Chico, California.

According to the Powell County, Montana, Sheriff’s Office, three campers were spending the night in the town of Ovando, Montana, inside their tents outside of a local museum.

At approximately 3 a.m., a 400-pound male grizzly awakened the campers but ran away.

The campers removed food from their tents and secured it in an area designated for food storage before going back to bed.

A security camera at a local business a block away captured footage of the bear at 3:15 a.m.

Fifteen minutes later, two people in a tent were awakened by screams as the grizzly returned and pulled the victim out of her tent.

The campers sprayed the grizzly with bear spray, causing it to retreat.

At 4:14 a.m., the sheriff’s office received it first 911 call regarding the attack.

The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

Officials said the bear at some point in the evening killed and ate several chickens after breaking into a chicken coop in the town.

That location, officials said, gives them the best opportunity to locate the grizzly.

“At this point, our best chance for catching this bear will be culvert traps set in the area near the chicken coop where the bear killed and ate several chickens,” said Randy Arnold, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks regional supervisor in Missoula.

DNA of the bear was acquired by wildlife personnel and will be used to compare it against any bear they are able to capture.

A spokesman for Fish, Wildlife, & Parks said if the bear is captured, it will be killed.

“This is just devastating,” Ray Francis, an Ovando resident, told The Associated Press. “This is a big biking community and I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

A local store owner, Tiffanie Zavarelli, said the incident has “shaken the town.”

“We’re all in contact with one another and my husband and I want to let the community know that we care and that we’re here if they need anything at all,” she said.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out the family and friends of the victim. Many thanks to the residents that assisted in the search and pulled together to support the first responders, the Powell County Sheriff’s Office and the Fish Wildlife and Parks as we worked to process the scene and conduct the searches,” a spokesperson from the Powell County Sheriff’s Office said.

All campsites in Ovando will be closed until Sunday. 

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Felicia And Grizzly Cubs Avoid Death Row as Fish & Wildlife Service Says Hazing Is Working

in News/Grizzly Bears
11727

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

It looks like Grizzly Bear 863, better known as Felicia, and her cubs will live to see another day.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service reported on Monday that the two-week intensive hazing operation to keep the celebrity bear and her family away from the highway on Togwotee Pass has been successful.

That means the agency won’t kill the bears as officials suggested was a possibility due to Felicia’s proclivity to approach vehicles and people in search of food.

The Fish and Wildlife Service thanked members of the public for not stopping on the highway to watch wildlife during the hazing period but added that making lasting changes in the bear’s behavior will require a long-term effort.

“The public’s avoidance of the area in recent days has contributed to the ability of wildlife managers to conduct operations safely and productively,” the U.S. Fish & Wildlife said in a release.

“However, Grizzly 863’s healthy fear of people and vehicles will continue only if the public avoids the area and practices responsible wildlife viewing behavior,” it said.

In the lexicon of the criminal justice system, the successful hazing doesn’t mean the bears have been removed from death row.

It only means that they have received a temporary pardon. They could still receive a death sentence. It is up to the public to keep the bears alive.

“By avoiding stopping on or along the highway, approaching, or feeding bears, the public can minimize the need to escalate the severity of management options for the bear,” the Fish and Wildlife Service said.

But this time it didn’t mention the word “euthanasia.”

When the organization did raise that prospect earlier this month, it was a public relations fiasco with nationwide press coverage and nearly 75,000 people signing a petition to stop “the murder of this bear and her two cubs” as it was written on the change.org website.

What happens now?

The agency said it would continue to monitor the bears and will engage in “limited hazing efforts” in coordination with the U.S. Forest Service, the Wyoming Highway Patrol and the Wyoming Game & Fish Department.

As for intervention by a volunteer group — or “posse” —  to monitor the highway and to intervene when people fall back on old habits, the Fish and Wildlife Service said that would be a bad idea and likely make things worse.

“The Service and partners have determined this option is not viable due to significant safety concerns,” it said. “Highway 26/287 is a major arterial highway for western Wyoming. The agencies involved concur that any attempt to facilitate viewing would encourage unsafe conditions along this already busy highway.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Grizzly Relocated In Grand Teton Due to People Feeding It

in News/Grizzly Bears
11662

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A young adult male grizzly bear had to be relocated within Grand Teton National Park this week after obtaining human in two incidents earlier this month.

On June 11, a visitor reported that a grizzly bear walked through a Grassy Lake Road campsite, sniffed a picnic table and unoccupied tent, which it then put its paws on. No damage was done to the tent. 

Visitors yelled at the bear and it ran away.

The next day, Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a report of people feeding a grizzly bear from their vehicle south of the Lizard Creek Campground.

On June 13, there was a report of a grizzly gaining access to unattended trash and a drink at a campsite.

Both incidents are under investigation, although one person was cited for improper food storage, which carries a mandatory court appearance.

Later on June 13, the grizzly was captured and collared. He is a young male around 2.5 years old. All reports and evidence indicate he was the bear involved in each incident.

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.”

The bear was relocated on June 15 to the west side of Jackson Lake.

Bears that obtain human food may lose their natural fear of humans and may seek out humans and human-developed areas as an easy source of food. 

As a result, bear may become aggressive toward people and may have to be killed.

The proper storage of food items and responsible picnicking are vitally important in bear country. Picnickers should only have out the items they plan to use immediately so that if a bear approaches, food items can be quickly gathered and the opportunity for the bear to receive a food reward is removed. 

Visitors should store food and scented items in bear-resistant food lockers that are located throughout the park or in a hard-sided vehicle. Deposit trash in bear-resistant receptacles and do not burn waste in fire rings or leave litter in campsites.

“Feeding wildlife is illegal and dangerous, and we take these incidents very seriously,” park superintendent Chip Jenkins said. “The impacts of irresponsible behavior can have very negative effects for humans and wildlife.” 

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Black Bear Escapes Charging Grizzly Bear With ‘Powerful Exit Strategy’

in News/Grizzly Bears
11464

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Heeding proper bear advice is important. It can be a matter of life or death.

Thinking it’s possible to outrun a bear is fraught with peril.

A video shared on Tuesday by Glacier National Park shows why attempting to run from a bear is a bad idea.

The video showed what could have been a nasty confrontation between a grizzly bear and a black bear.

The National Park Service describes the encounter as a battle for food. It’s still not plentiful, so battles over a food source happens often.

That means, as horrible as it sounds, a bear can be the equivalent of a cheeseburger for another bear.

In this case, a much larger grizzly goes after a black bear, but the black bear does not turn into a cheeseburger.

That’s because of — as the Park Service describes it — the black bear’s exit strategy: climbing.

The black bear escaped up a tree.  And although the grizzly acted like it was going to follow the black bear up, it couldn’t.  Although it gave the viewing public a thrill.

Glacier National Park described the difference of the two bears like this:

“The short, sharp claws of the black bear are ideal for tree climbing. The grizzly’s longer, duller claws are great for digging, but poor for climbing—especially because an adult grizzly is substantially heavier than a black bear,” the Park Service said.

It’s a fantastic video and a great lesson for humans who think they can outsmart bears.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Grizzly Hazing To Occur on Togwotee Pass Because Of Irresponsible Human Behavior

in News/Grizzly Bears
11379

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By staff reports, Cowboy State Daily

As a result of continued harassment by wildlife viewers creating unsafe conditions on Togwotee Pass in Wyoming, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and partners plan to conduct targeted hazing operations on grizzly bear 863. 

The Service and partners ask the public to avoid the area if possible and not interfere with these management operations, currently planned for the remainder of June 2021. Allowing wildlife experts to address this issue uninterrupted will increase the chances of this management tactic being successful.

People and cars dangerously close to a grizzly bear on U.S. Highway 26/287, creating unsafe conditions for people and wildlife. Credit: Todd Stiles/U.S. Forest Service

This operation will be conducted alongside partners at the U.S. Forest Service, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming Highway Patrol, and Wyoming Game & Fish Department. 

Approaching, disturbing, or feeding bears – as is occurring on Togwotee Pass – is extremely dangerous to both humans and bears. 

These actions habituate animals to human development and can lead to dangerous human conditioned behavior. When this happens, bears may become aggressive and threaten human safety. 

If hazing does not resolve conflicts on Togwotee Pass, escalating management options include relocation and possibly euthanasia. By avoiding approaching or feeding bears, the public can help ensure that the need for such significant management options is unnecessary.

A female grizzly bear, known as “863” by wildlife managers and “Felicia” by public observers, and her two cubs have become habituated to the roadside along Highway 26/287. 

As more people become aware of these bears and stop to approach them, it creates unsafe conditions for people and wildlife. The public’s help is needed to ensure the continued safety of these bears and people passing through the area.

The Service and our partners continue to raise calls to the public to stay safe and help keep grizzly bears wild (see: USFWS and Partners Urge Responsible Grizzly Bear Viewing in Togwotee Pass Area, As Grizzly Bears Emerge from Dens, USFWS Urges Public to Stay Safe and Keep Bears Wild, and Multi-agency Effort to Maintain Safety of Grizzly Bears and People). 

The Service again reminds residents and visitors that approaching, feeding, or otherwise disturbing grizzly bears poses a significant threat to humans and bears, in addition to being a federal offense under the Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Wyoming Highway Patrol, Wyoming Game & Fish Department, and other partners are unified in our approach and committed to ensuring safe conditions for people and wildlife. To achieve this goal, we need your help. Please remember to:

Never approach bears; always remain at least 100 yards (300 feet) away, or about the length of a football field

Practice ethical wildlife viewing by remaining a safe distance and never disturbing natural behaviors – if an animal notices you and/or changes their behavior or actions, you are too close

Never feed, leave food for, or make food accessible to bears

Obey traffic signs, laws, and regulations – stop only in designated pull-off areas

Follow the direction of wildlife management officials, do not interfere with or approach hazing operations

Additional grizzly bear safety information is available from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee for residents, hunters, hikers/campers, farmers/ranchers, and wildlife watchers.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Game and Fish: Don’t Fight Grizzlies

in News/Grizzly Bears
11111

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is reminding people that no matter how tough they might think they are, a grizzly bear is tougher.

Always.

A recent national poll conducted by YouGov America showed what animals Americans thought they could defeat in a fight, and about 6% of respondents believed they could definitely win in a fight against a grizzly bear.

This group of people obviously has never seen the film “Grizzly Man,” about a bear enthusiast who claimed to have won the trust of certain brown bears and was later killed by one.

Nonetheless, the Game and Fish department reminded people that even though it might sound cool to take part in a cage match with a grizzly, no one should ever fight bears — or any animal, for that matter.

“The Wyoming Game and Fish Department views human-wildlife conflicts very seriously, and interactions between humans and grizzlies can be extremely dangerous,” Game and Fish Spokeswoman Sara DiRienzo told Cowboy State Daily on Friday. “Seeking out conflict with any wildlife is not only dangerous but irresponsible as well.

“Obviously, Game and Fish does not support anyone instigating a fight with bears (or any wildlife) and urges people to educate themselves on bear safety and take extra steps to avoid conflicts,” she continued

The top three animals people thought they could beat in a fight were a rat (72% thought they could win), a house cat (69%) and a goose (61%).

Admittedly, grizzlies were the animal the fewest people thought they could beat. Lions, elephants and gorillas were selected as the underdog by 8% of those responding. Crocodiles (9%) and wolves (12%) were also selected as more likely to be bested in a match with a human.

Noted outdoor enthusiast and Pinedale resident Paul Ulrich, who has had multiple encounters with bears, said anyone who thinks they can take a grizzly is an “idiot.”

“A few years ago, I was about 20 yards away from a 1,200-pound grizzly bear and if it wasn’t for my bear spray, it wouldn’t have been pretty,” Ulrich said. “I think I would have been fine because I’m in shape but my buddy is a 300 pounder and that bear was looking at him like a double cheeseburger.”

Ulrich said the bear spray stopped the grizzly and allowed he and his friend to get to their pickup truck in time to escape.

“These bears are not only fast but they’re nimble,” Ulrich said. “My friend is slow, fat, and uncoordinated. That bear would have chopped him up like a food processor.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Hiker Injured By Bear In Yellowstone, First Incident of 2021

in Yellowstone/News/Grizzly Bears
11109

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A man was attacked Friday morning by a bear while hiking in Yellowstone National Park, according to park officials.

Park officials said 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 Beaver Ponds Trail was closed until further notice. Bear management staff swept the trail Friday morning to ensure no hikers were on it.

Park officials are advising those hiking in Yellowstone to stay at least 100 yards away from bears at all times and carry bear spray.

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.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Grizzly Bear Spotted In Southwestern Wyoming Near Utah, Idaho

in News/Grizzly Bears
11060

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A grizzly bear was recently spotted in Lincoln County close to the Idaho and Utah borders, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department announced Wednesday.

Remote camera photos captured images of the grizzly, which were then reported by a member of the public. This is the second spring in a row that a grizzly has been spotted in the southern Wyoming Range.

“This is black bear country, but with the verified presence of a grizzly, people enjoying the upcoming Memorial Day weekend should be practicing bear safety while outside,” said Todd Graham, Green River Region wildlife supervisor. “Be sure to keep a clean camp, free of food waste and garbage.”

The grizzly bear was unmarked and not known to be involved in any conflicts. The Game and Fish Department will continue to monitor the situation.

“It is important to report any conflicts with large carnivores immediately to local Game and Fish,” Graham said.

The bear was spotted approximately 65 miles south of the area considered suitable for the long-term viability of grizzly bears by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The sighting in the area is further evidence of a recovered and growing grizzly bear population, the department said.

“These spring sightings are the furthest south grizzly bears have been verified since well before recovery efforts began in the 1970s,” Graham said. 

Game and Fish recommends that campers:

  • Never store attractants in your tent.
  • Store all food, pet food, garbage and any other odorous items inside a vehicle, hard sided campers, horse trailers, bear canisters, or bear boxes.
  • Keep clothes worn while cooking stored with food and other attractants.
  • Burn all grease off camp stoves.
  • Wipe down eating and cooking areas after each use.
  • Do not bury garbage; bears will just dig it up.
  • Dispose of all garbage properly and pack out any remaining trash.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

National Park Service Investigating Woman Charged By Grizzly In Yellowstone

in News/Grizzly Bears
11030

By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

A woman in Yellowstone National Park who appeared to disregard National Park Service rules by approaching wildlife is under investigation by federal authorities.

The National Park Service is asking the public to help identify a woman who was charged by a female grizzly bear after walking up to the animal with her phone to film it.

Video of the encounter captured onlookers’ gasps when the grizzly rushed the woman who calmly walked away after the bear’s charge.

The Park Service describes the suspect as a white woman in her mid-30s with brown hair, heavyset, and wearing black clothing.

According to the statement, the violation occurred on May 10 at around 4:45pm.

Commenters on Yellowstone National Park’s Facebook page had little sympathy for the woman.

“If they didn’t euthanize the bears, I would fully support them eating a few tourists each year,” wrote Ken Weisz.

“People really just act like they are seeing squirrels at their local park. She’s lucky she didn’t get yeeted out of existence,” said Shiloh Barksdale.

“I guess this Darwin Award recipient thinks she’s at a petting zoo,” Lacy Teel said. “She’s lucky to be alive and lucky she didn’t cause the death of this mother and her cubs.”

There have been many high-profile bear attacks so far in 2021, some fatal.

A woman was killed by a black bear near Durango, Colorado in April and a Montana man was mauled to death by a grizzly near Yellowstone earlier this month.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Highway Patrol To Ticket Drivers Who Pull Over To Look At Bears On Togwotee Pass

in News/Grizzly Bears
10938

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Staff reports

Despite a concerted multi-agency effort to provide safe wildlife viewing of grizzly bears frequenting U.S. Highway 26 near Togwotee Pass, officials are now planning to step-up management efforts in order to maintain the safety of both wildlife and people.

“What started as just a handful of people occasionally watching a sow grizzly bear and her cubs has now turned into large crowds of people getting out of their illegally parked vehicles, creating a serious safety issue along this busy highway due to vehicles traveling at a high rate of speed as they pass by,” said Lieutenant Matt Brackin with the Wyoming Highway Patrol. 

“This is not like a national park where motorists are traveling at much lower speeds and expecting to see wildlife with the public pulled over to wildlife watch. This is a major highway with numerous large semi-tractor trailers that can’t stop in short order to avoid stopped vehicles or excited pedestrians that are criss-crossing the road. It has become a significant safety issue.” 

Wyoming state troopers plan to start citing individuals who have illegally parked their vehicles along the highway rather than parking in a designated legal pull-out.

Wyoming Game and Fish officials have begun to haze the sow grizzly bear and her cubs away from the road when conditions allow it to be done safely for both the bears and people. “Hazing wildlife away from busy highways and other areas of human development is a commonly-used practice to prevent a wildlife-vehicle collision or a dangerous encounter between people and wildlife,” said Dan Thompson, Large Carnivore Supervisor for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. 

“As an agency, we promote safe and ethical viewing of wildlife, but unfortunately this has escalated into a situation that is not safe for people or the grizzly bears. Bears occasionally seen from a road are much different than bears that frequent these areas and become habituated to people. When allowed to persist, it only increases the likelihood for either people or bears to behave poorly, which can result in a human injury or death, or the grizzly bear having to be euthanized.”

All of the agencies involved are in consensus that these management actions are necessary for the safety of grizzly bears and people. People are reminded to heed all signs along the road and follow the direction of authorities from the Teton County Sheriff’s Office, Wyoming Highway Patrol, U.S. Forest Service and Wyoming Game and Fish Department. 

“The efforts to recover our grizzly bear populations have afforded people unprecedented opportunity to see and photograph bears on a regular basis in northwest Wyoming,” said Thompson. “But with that comes the responsibility to do it safely and ethically for the benefit of both grizzly bears and people.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Tolerance Key To Grizzly Bear Conservation, Game and Fish Dept Says

in News/Grizzly Bears
10835

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Mark Davis, Powell Tribune

Education is the top priority in Wyoming’s $55 million, decades-long battle to recover and conserve grizzly bears. The success of the Bear Wise program — the department’s large carnivore educational outreach program — has helped keep both bears and people safe, according to state officials. But the department is at a crossroads: Its goal of building tolerance among landowners and residents is in jeopardy of wearing thin as conflicts continue to increase.

“Tolerance goes down as conflicts go up,” Brian DeBolt, large carnivore conflict coordinator for the department, told the Game and Fish Commission in April.

In many ways, DeBolt and the rest of the large carnivore team find themselves in a tight spot. The federal government calls all the shots while the species is listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Despite being deemed recovered for years by a federal conservation governing body, efforts to delist the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s grizzlies have been unsuccessful, while bears keep spreading out into areas fraught with conflict. At the same time, more visitors from outside the Yellowstone ecosystem — many who haven’t seen the messaging from Bear Wise Wyoming — are pouring in, hoping to get a glimpse of the charismatic critters.

DeBolt and large carnivore team supervisor Dan Thompson — considered the state’s top experts — outlined the pressing issues of livestock depredation and aggressive bears in residential neighborhoods at the commission’s April 22 meeting. They also heralded recently improved removal rates and educational opportunities seized despite the pandemic.

“A huge component of having large carnivores on the landscape is managing conflicts,” Thompson said.

There were 208 conflicts with grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in 2020, with 50% occurring on private property.

Thompson and DeBolt spoke to the Game and Fish’s governing body as the first grizzly attack of the year was hitting newsstands. Carl Mock, a backcountry guide from West Yellowstone, Montana, was mauled by a grizzly bear during a solo fishing trip on the Madison River just outside of Yellowstone National Park. The 40-year-old Mock died two days later, on April 17.

The bear is believed to have been defending a nearby food cache — a natural defense mechanism for the species — as a moose carcass was located near the scene of the attack. The bear was later killed as it charged a large contingent of officials responding to the scene.

Bear spray residue found on Mock’s clothing suggested he tried to ward off the attack, The Associated Press reported. Mock usually carried a pistol in addition to the spray, but didn’t that day. By the time rescuers reached him, he was propped up at the base of a tree with his canister of spray in one hand and his other hand missing — lost in the battle with the bruin.

Mock wasn’t just a statistic to be bantered around in the constant debate over management protocols, Thompson said. Nor was Mark Uptain, a guide killed in the Teton wilderness in 2018, or any of the deaths and injuries that have unfolded in recent years. They were family members and friends.

But the attacks, hyped in big headlines in some publications, also become ammunition used by some to demonize the species, the recovery efforts of the state and federal government, and predator management as a whole. 

“I understand their frustration,” Thompson said. “It is very tough, because we’ve asked the public to trust in us. And we’ve done everything we can to recover and prove that we’ve recovered grizzly bears. But we’re still dealing with a listed population.”

He said tolerance is impossible to quantify, but when a person gets injured or killed, “it obviously impacts the general thought process of a lot of people about grizzly bears in the [Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem].”

Wyoming’s large carnivore team walks a narrow line between protecting humans and protecting the predator species unique to our ecosystem.

“There’s international interest and scrutiny on what we do,” Thompson said.

Wolves, mountain lions and bears have all been misunderstood while being displaced by the fragmented habitat of progress, he said. There were still bounties on mountain lions deep into the 20th century in the U.S., offering hard currency to anyone willing to shoot the species, with no limits or regulations. 

Thompson told commissioners that the department’s proactive measures to inform and educate the public are “very critical” to large carnivore management. The Game and Fish’s large carnivore team started with just a few people, he said, but has expanded to 10 full-time employees and several temporary hires, “just to be able to deal with these things as the population expands.”

The official estimate of grizzlies within the Demographic Monitoring Area — an area deemed as suitable bear habitat — is about 730 bears. However, drawing from population data presented by the Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, Thompson said there are likely more than 1,000 of the predators in that area, “and have been since 2015.”

Officials refuse to give an educated estimate as to how many additional bears have moved outside the monitoring area, but based on the growing footprint of the bear, many guess there are hundreds more; reported grizzly conflicts outside the boundaries of the DMA span a region the size of New Jersey.

However, critics question such population “guesstimates” and some claim higher estimates will result in more grizzly deaths, including eventual hunting of the species. While grizzly bear hunts have become a flashpoint in debates over delisting, Thompson points out that the state manages the hunting of black bears, wolves and mountain lions, all of which are steadily increasing in population.

“Without the public buying in, without public support and tolerance for these species, we can’t move forward,” he said. “That’s why we make a huge effort to understand all the different perspectives from the public — from those who adore [predators], to those who hate them.”

The Bear Wise and loss mitigation programs remain important parts of building tolerance, Thompson said. The department has paid millions in compensation for livestock lost to predators and is constantly looking for ways to get its messages out to residents and visitors. The program is seeking to expand bear spray giveaways and educational efforts as COVID-19 vaccinations make it possible for officials to schedule live events.

“My message to the public is to do everything you can to be safe, and do everything you can to protect yourself,” Thompson said.

Despite the many critics from communities in grizzly habitat and around the globe, he considers all opinions valid as the debate rages.

“I’ve always said that we can use [the passion for the species] to our advantage,” he said. “I’d rather have interest than apathy.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Lummis Promotes Grizzly Delisting While Questioning Biden Nominee

in News/Cynthia Lummis/Grizzly Bears
10807

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

After questioning President Joe Biden’s nominee for assistant secretary of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis remains unsure about whether she will vote to confirm the woman to the post, according to her office.

An aide to Lummis to the senator said while Lummis appreciated Shannon Estenoz’ statements during a Senate committee hearing that the state management of grizzly bears is central to continuing the species’ recovery.

“Wyoming, Idaho and Montana first achieved all of the grizzly bear’s recovery objectives set by the federal government in 1997, more than 24 years ago,” the aide said. “The committee will vote on Estenoz’s nomination in coming weeks (the date has yet to be determined). Sen. Lummis is still considering how she will vote on her nomination.”

Lummis asked Estenoz during the hearing whether grizzlies should be removed from the Endangered Species List, given the fact the recovery of the bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is one of the greatest success stories of the Endangered Species Act.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Bush administration, the Obama administration and the Trump administration’s all agreed that the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear population has recovered and should be delisted,” Lummis said. “Do you believe we should keep species on the list?”

Estenoz agreed that the Yellowstone area grizzly “is doing very, very well.”

“I believe when species meet the definition of delisting or down-listing, then we should delist or down-list,” Estenoz said.

“It’s really important for folks to feel supported and listened to and that we have the right tools in the toolbox to help folks live and exist with a recovering predator species, and state management and state expertise as I said before is absolutely central to this approach,” she said.

Estenoz said if she is confirmed, she will prioritize working with communities to “recover,” or delist, predators in particular.

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.

Lummis is a sponsor of the Grizzly Bear State Management Act of 2021, which would remove grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the Endangered Species List and shift management of the grizzlies to wildlife scientists in the states. U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives.

Bears have become so populous in the park and Yellowstone area that it is common for tourists to encounter them every summer. This week, a woman was charged by a grizzly while filming three bears running around.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Tourist Season Begins: Woman Charged By Grizzly Bear In Yellowstone

in Yellowstone/News/Grizzly Bears
10773

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

It might be still winter-like in some parts of Wyoming, but summer has officially arrived at Yellowstone National Park with the season’s first encounter between a park visitor and a grizzly bear.

Thankfully it didn’t go nearly as badly as it could have, but still, why do people keep getting so close to wild animals? Is the close-up video that worth it? Did you not watch “Grizzly Man?”

A video shared by NBC Montana shows a woman recording three grizzly bears at a relatively short distance. As the bears run around, one charges toward her, causing her to put her phone down and walk back toward her vehicle.

“Darcie Addington took this from the safety of her vehicle,” the tweet by the TV station said. “She doesn’t know the other woman, but says several people warned her. Remember to give bears at least 100 yards of space.”

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.

Late last month, a woman near Durango, Colorado was mauled and killed by a black bear when she was out walking her dogs.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Grizzly 399, Cubs Spotted Over Weekend In Grand Teton National Park

in News/Grizzly Bears
10693

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Nearly a month after last being seen, Wyoming’s most famous grizzly bear family was spotted again over the weekend.

Grizzly 399 and her four cubs were spotted in Grand Teton National Park over the weekend. Hunter Chip Burgess shared a video of the five bears walking on a roadway, with a line of cars stopped to get pictures and videos of the grizzlies.

“Hunted Rockefeller Parkway this morning and was treated to this on the way back through Grand Teton. Front row seats,” he wrote on Facebook.

A park ranger was at the head of the car line, keeping people and vehicles away from the bears.

In the video, the cubs seemed to be unbothered by their legion of fans, but 399 started walking away from the cars, looking behind her to make sure her babies weren’t too far behind. Well, they’re not quite babies anymore, but they’re still her babies.

The cubs soon realized their mom was gone and soon ran to catch up with her. One trailed behind a bit more than its three siblings, but the family got a move on with the park ranger’s vehicle following closely behind.

The grizzlies were last seen in April, as reported by Cowboy State Daily, which was their first sighting following hibernation. They went into hibernation a little later than usual, but it was due to their continual finding of food in the area.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Female Grizzly Killed West of Wyoming; $40,000 Reward Offered

in News/Grizzly Bears
10399

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By staff reports, Cowboy State Daily

A $40,000 reward has been offered for information in the the killing of a female grizzly bear in Idaho in an area about 10 miles west of Yellowstone National Park.

The Idaho Fish and Game Department on Monday announced the killing of the grizzly which authorities believe occurred in mid-March at the Pole Bridge Campground and also resulted in the death of her 6 to 8 week cub.

“The loss of a reproductive female grizzly is a real tragedy,” Regional Conservation Officer Doug Petersen said. “Someone out there knows what happened to this bear and we are asking them to come forward and share that information with us.”

Officials found the bear, which was shot numerous times, partially submerged in the Little Warm River after receiving a mortality signal from its collar. The cub was later discovered in the bear’s den.

This is the third shooting of a grizzly in the area in the last 10 months. 

In September of 2020 an adult male grizzly was shot and killed in Coyote Meadows followed by the shooting of a young male bear in November that was discovered near the Cold Springs Road. All three cases remain under investigation.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

West Yellowstone Man Dies After Being Attacked by Grizzly

in News/Grizzly Bears
10095

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

A West Yellowstone man died Saturday after being attacked by a grizzly bear two days earlier.

Friends and family of Carl Mock, 40, announced his death on Saturday on a GoFundMe page which was originally set-up to pay for his medical bills.

Officials said the bear attack on the backcountry guide occurred on Thursday near the Baker’s Hole campground area, approximately 3 miles north of the West Yellowstone entrance of Yellowstone National Park and 2 miles west of the Wyoming state line.

Mock was taken to an Idaho Falls hospital with significant scalp and facial injuries. According to the GoFundMe page, Mock succumbed to his injuries after suffering a “massive” stroke.

“This comes as a terrible shock and is heartbreaking to everyone, since both of his surgeries went so well,” said Keith Johnson, organizer of the fundraising effort.

“All of the money that is being donated on this page… will be given to the family to help cover the medical bills and the funeral costs,” Johnson said.

Officials with the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Department said Mock had bear spray, but it was unclear if he was able to deploy it during the attack.

An older male grizzly was shot and killed on Friday while game wardens and bear specialists were conducting an investigation at the scene of the attack.

“They yelled and made continuous noise as they walked toward the site to haze away any bears in the area,” the department said in a release. “Before they reached the site, a bear began charging the group.”

“Despite multiple attempts by all seven people to haze away the bear, it continued its charge. Due to this immediate safety risk, the bear was shot and died about 20 yards from the group,” the department said.

The U.S. Forest Service issued an emergency public-safety closure in the area Thursday afternoon. The closure remains in effect.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

COVID-19 Has Changed The Way Large Carnivore Education Is Taught

in News/Grizzly Bears
10090

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Mark Davis, Powell Tribune

The past 12 months have been tough for Dusty Lasseter. The COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of his efforts at a critical time in the grizzly bear education business.

Between the record number of visitors to Yellowstone National Park in the final two months of 2020 and the recent upswing in interest in outdoor activities sparked by the pandemic, 2021 could be yet another record year for tourism in northwest Wyoming. At the same time, officials in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho report grizzly populations that are continuing to grow and expand outside what is considered suitable habitat in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

“I think the toughest thing with COVID was not having face-to-face interaction and presentations with the public,” said Lasseter, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Bear Wise education coordinator.

The program typically reaches thousands, teaching both residents and visitors the importance of learning to safely live and recreate in grizzly bear habitat.

“It really limited our ability to give presentations to the public and host groups of people,” he said. “Even our one-on-one interactions at a booth in an event — those were all just canceled.”

Education has proven to be an important tool in grizzly conflict mitigation. Statistics show positive changes over time — especially on private property. There was a time when the highest percentage of conflicts were due to unsecured attractants. Lasseter helped lead the charge to make landowners and residents aware of the issue and now it’s barely a blip on the radar. Of the 208 conflicts reported by Wyoming officials last year, only two came from unsecured attractants.

Yet, while the lessons are effective with residents, reaching the increasing wave of tourists flocking to the area is difficult. One example can be seen at Yellowstone. A recent survey showed only 19% of individual day hikers carry bear spray and 44% travel in groups of two or more. At the same time, surveys of those who travel deeper into the back country — which requires a permit and gives officials opportunities to provide education — showed 64% of individuals carried bear spray and 84% of groups had at least one can.

With expansion of the species’ footprint in the ecosystem — both in immediate areas and recently in population bases such as Red Lodge, Montana — education is increasingly important. Montana’s 10-year average for conflicts is 81, but the state recorded 101 conflicts in 2020. About 20% of those conflicts were well outside the boundaries of suitable habitat known as the Demographic Monitoring Area (DMA) in the Beartooth Mountain range near Red Lodge. Conflict areas are expanding in Wyoming as well, said Game and Fish large carnivore section supervisor Dan Thompson.

“We have a lot more people using [grizzly bear] habitat that aren’t used to recreating in those areas,” he said Thursday at the virtual spring meeting of the Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee (YES) of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee. It’s a group tasked with conservation efforts for the species inside the DMA.

“We have an area the size of the state of New Jersey occupied outside what we consider suitable habitat for grizzly bears right now,” Thompson said. “So that obviously increases that chance for conflict.”

Education is important in these areas, he said. About 50% of all conflicts reported last year happened on private property. The department has been working for decades to work with landowners, expanding educational programs into new areas as the species’ footprint expands.

But last year the department was forced to improvise and adapt. Giveaways of free bear spray moved from in-person handouts to non-contact drive-thrus. Lessons normally presented in person were translated to social media posts and online projects. And the Game and Fish is working closer with non-government organizations to present education to groups likely to see conflicts, such as area hunters.

In one project, the department teamed up with the Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association (WYOGA) to produce a new video aimed at educating back country hunters. The video, scheduled to debut this week, attempts to teach grizzly bear behavior so hunters know how to best avoid and mitigate conflicts.

“It’s hopefully a template for the future. It’s really well done and something we’re going to also be using as we move forward,” Thompson said.

Park County Commissioner Lee Livingston, who also sits on the board of directors at WYOGA, said the project is being tweaked before its release. He’s hopeful the video will decrease the danger back country recreationalists face in grizzly habitat and result in less mortality for the species.

Lasseter, who appears in WYOGA’s video, said changes made during this past year will continue in future educational efforts.

“We’re really focusing on providing more video material for folks so they can [view educational content] from the comfort of their home,” he said, adding, “COVID really changed my mindset on how important it is to show people their behavior because people have so few interactions with bears on the landscape. There’s just a ton of value in teaching people bear behavior in videos.”

The availability of online educational content may help get the word out to visitors as well, he said. “A lot of people will be searching for resources before they get here. They’ll be looking at videos online and, hopefully, we can direct them to our Bear Wise information on the Game and Fish site.”

Game and Fish is also expanding bear spray giveaways into other communities this coming summer, including in Lander, Dubois and Jackson. And, with continued success in vaccinations, Lasseter hopes to once again be able to get back to in-person training.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Grizzly 399 And Her Four Cubs Are Out And About

in News/Grizzly Bears
Photo Credit: Mountain Journal
10003

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

If there is a bear more celebrated than 25-year-old Grizzly 399 (and her four cubs), we’re not aware of it.

So let the celebration begin, because 399 and her brood are awake and seem to be doing well.

Credit to our friends over at Mountain Journal for letting us know about it.

They report that 399 was spotted on Thursday morning in a couple unspecified locations but probably in or near Grand Teton National Park.

“They all appear well — though a bit thin — which is to be expected after a long winter slumber,” the journal writes.

The publication opined that some thought the bears wouldn’t emerge from hibernation for a couple more weeks.

But once they’re out, they’re out.

The last time Cowboy State Daily reported on 399 was on Jan. 5 when the Wyoming Game and Fish Department thought the bears had gone to their den for hibernation. 

It was a little later than usual but that was because the family had stumbled on to many gut-piles in the area.

“Staying out a little longer for this high-protein food source has proven pretty productive for grizzly 399 and her offspring,” department spokesman Mark Gocke said.

399 dropped her radio collar years ago, so agencies have to rely on sightings to know where and how she is.

Although it’s exciting to know that 399 is back at it, we hope that she and her cubs are given plenty of space by curious observers.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Grizzlies Recommended For Threatened Listing, Wyoming Officials Disagree

in News/Grizzly Bears
9814

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming officials are disagreeing with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommendation to leave grizzly bears on the threatened wildlife list for at least five more years.

Last week, the agency recommended that no change be made to the to the grizzlies’ status as threatened under the Endangered Species Act for at least five years, which will allow for a status review.

But Wyoming officials maintain the recommendation is not based in the reality of what is happening with the bears in the park.

“The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem bear population is booming, growing from as few as 136  bears during early recovery periods to potentially more than 1,000 in the ecosystem today,” said Brian Nesvik, director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. “The traditional range has expanded beyond what is considered biological and socially suitable habitats by 7,738 square miles. Yet, it remains listed because of endless federal lawsuits litigated in courts outside of Wyoming and disengagement from what is happening on-the-ground in our state.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service’s recommendation to leave the bears on the list came after a thorough review of the best available science, the agency said in a statement, which was informed by an independently peer-reviews species status assessment.

The recommendation did confirm that grizzly populations in the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide ecosystems are biologically recovered. However, the five-year status review would allow for assessment of the species as a whole across the 48 contiguous states.

The assessment will evaluate the species’ current needs, conditions and threats, as well as modeling future scenarios. The remaining challenges with their threatened status include limited habitat connectivity, management of access by motorized vehicles, human-caused mortality and uncertainty surrounding future conservation efforts in some ecosystems, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Grizzlies were originally listed as threatened in 1975 and then removed from the endangered species list in 2017 by the Fish and Wildlife Service, which cited a significant increase in bear populations.

However, in 2018, a federal court reversed the agency’s decision.

Nesvik said the decision to continue to list the bears as threatened ignores the progress that has been made in their recovery.

“By all federally mandated criteria and scientific measures, the grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has reached and exceeded recovery status for more than 20 years,” he said. “Over the last 40 years, Wyoming has contributed over $50 million to meet the high-bar required for delisting. These contributions have come largely from hunters and anglers.”

Gov. Mark Gordon agreed with Nesvik’s sentiments and is backing a proposal by the state’s congressional delegation to remove the bears from the endangered species list.

“The governor is supportive of the legislation introduced by our (congressional) delegation that would de-list grizzly bears,” Gordon’s spokesman Michael Pearlman told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday. “Wyoming’s grizzly bears have been biologically recovered for more than a decade, and therefore the state should be managing the species.”

U.S. Sens. Cynthia Lummis and John Barrasso have joined U.S. senators from Idaho and Montana in introducing legislation to remove grizzly bears from the endangered species list.

In late February, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney reintroduced a bill to Congress that would remove grizzly bears from the endangered species list and prevent them from being considered threatened or endangered wildlife in the future.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Delisting & Hunting Grizzlies Best For Bears and People, Officials Say

in News/Grizzly Bears
9631

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

A congressional proposal to remove grizzly bears from the endangered species list would benefit the bears and humans, according to hunters and the state Game and Fish Department.

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis, joined by U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, is sponsoring legislation to “delist” the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s grizzlies and put their management in the hands of state wildlife officials.

Joe Kondelis is the president of the Western Bear Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and development of bears, bear habitat, and bear hunting in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. 

In his opinion, the legislation is welcome.

“The only way we’re going to get the grizzly bear delisted, in my opinion, is to do it federally, because time has proven that anti-delisting groups litigating and suing prevent putting it into state management,” Kondelis said.

The politics of delisting are frustrating for Kondelis and his organization, he said.

“I think the struggles have been — we have one criteria for a species, until that criteria is met… and then society changes that,” he said. “The scientists and the managers haven’t changed it, but public perception changes, and then all of us who live in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem have to suffer.”

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Director, Brian Nesvik, in the December issue of the department’s magazine “Wyoming Wildlife,” expressed his own frustration in the slow-moving inner workings of politics when it comes to the management of the burly bruins.

“Despite the fact that the population is recovered by all scientific measures and has been for nearly 20 years, the state is not allowed to implement its grizzly bear management plans,” Nesvik wrote. 

Kondelis said his organization is also advocating for state management of the bears, rather than putting them under the auspices of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“If we could move into state management we would have more flexibility to manage the population for health and sustainability,” he noted. 

In the “Wyoming Wildlife” article, Nesvik detailed the efforts that have been made by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for grizzlies and other species, pointing to success in the recovery of the grey wolf population, which is thriving even after four years of legal hunting in Wyoming.

Hunting, as a matter of fact, is one of the key tools used in wildlife population management, according to Nesvik.

“Our time-tested model for managing many wildlife species in North America, including large carnivores, has always included hunting,” he wrote.

Kondelis’ organization agrees.

The Western Bear Foundation, based in Cody, is both a hunter advocacy group and a bear conservation organization. With around 500 volunteer members comprised of representatives from most states, the Foundation has a vested interest in the survival of the species.

“Are we doing enough at the state level to ensure there’s a future for bears on our landscape, for not only hunters to enjoy but for everyone to enjoy?” Kondelis asked. “With that comes proper sound management and using science to basically guide our decisions as far as management goes.”

Kondelis said he knows many sportsmen and others who recreate in the northern Continental Divide ecosystem who have had encounters with grizzly and other bears.

“It’s becoming part of the lexicon out West,” he said. 

He added that the estimates that are being reported regarding the bear population are most likely on the conservative side and are likely skewed by the fact animals are wandering more and more outside their traditional habitat.

“These bears are moving out of their native ranges and into new areas that they’ve never been since the settlers came over,” he said. “And so that’s where the trouble has been lately — not in the demographic monitoring area as much as it has been outside of that.”

Lummis introduced the Grizzly Bear State Management Act of 2021 Barrasso and fellow U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and James Risch of Idaho and Steve Daines of Montana. The companion version of this legislation was previously introduced in the House by Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming.

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.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Lummis, Barrasso Introduce Bill to Delist Grizzlies From Endangered Species List

in News/Cynthia Lummis/Grizzly Bears/politics/John Barrasso
9623

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sens. Cynthia Lummis and John Barrasso have joined U.S. senators from Idaho and Montana in introducing legislation to remove grizzly bears from the endangered species list.

The Grizzly Bear State Management Act of 2021 would remove grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the endangered species list and shift management of the grizzlies from the federal government to wildlife scientists in the states.

“By all scientific measures, the grizzly bears of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are fully recovered,” Lummis said. “Reproductive numbers are stable and the population is at or near its max capacity for the habitat. It’s time to remove the grizzlies in this area from the Endangered Species List and allow wildlife scientists in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho to manage the populations according to science.”

U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and James Risch of Idaho and U.S. Sen. Steve Daines of Montana are co-sponsoring the bill with Lummis and Barrasso.

“Grizzly bears are an essential part of the ecosystem of Wyoming, but keeping them listed hurts their populations more than it helps them,” Lummis said. “Wildlife managers that live near the bears and study them closely have a better idea of population parameters than bureaucrats in Washington. It’s time to delist the grizzly in our area and let science dictate our wildlife policy.”

Barrasso added the grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem are thriving and no longer need protection under the Endangered Species Act, and that has been the case for years.

“Even President Obama’s Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed with me that the grizzly bear should be delisted in 2015,” Barrasso said. “The state of Wyoming should be in charge of managing the bear population. Wyoming’s good work and sound management practices should be given an opportunity to demonstrate success. Seeing states successfully implement recovery efforts is just one of the many reasons I am working to improve the Endangered Species Act.”

In 1975, when grizzlies were first listed on the endangered species list, there were 136 grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In 2019, there were 728 bears.

Grizzly numbers have been in the 700s for a number of years. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team’s analysis suggested that the park is at or near its ecological carrying capacity for grizzly bears, according to information provided by Lummis.

In 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed grizzlies from the endangered species list, citing a significant increase in bear populations and a doubling of their range land. A federal court in 2018, ruling on a lawsuit filed by environmental groups and Indian tribes, reversed the agency’s decision.

Some organizations across Wyoming praised the legislation proposed by the senators.

““It is time for all to recognize the grizzly bear has already achieved healthy, robust population, has reached overpopulation for its available range and to manage it as such,” the Park County Board of Commissioners said. “It is time for the federal government to uphold its end of the agreement made with the people who live and recreate in Park County and delist the grizzly bear, and we feel the passage of this bill will do just that.”

The Wyoming Outfitters and Guides’ Association echoed these sentiments, saying it is long past time to delist the bears.

“Long overdue is the need to delist the grizzly bear, a species whose recovery has been realized for nearly a decade now, yet whose removal from endangered species classification has been inappropriately forestalled by activist environmental organizations,” the group said.

However, some conservation groups do not agree.

“It’s disturbing to see Western lawmakers try to blatantly sidestep the science showing that grizzly bears should remain federal protected under the Endangered Species Act,” said Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.  “We’re hopeful this bill dies a quick death in Congress.”

The Greater Yellowstone Coalition opposed a resolution approved in Wyoming’s Legislature in 2019 asking that Congress act to remove the grizzlies from the endangered species list and that the federal government give the state more money to manage the bears until they could be delisted.

“This injects politics and divisiveness into what should be a thoughtful, science-based process,” the group said when the resolution was considered. “The other, we could support, asking Congress for more funding for Wyoming’s grizzly bear management program. Because both asks were placed in the single resolution, we opposed this resolution. However, GYC has on its own supported and continues to ask our congressional delegation to fully fund the ESA to make it even more effective.

This bill by Lummis and Barrasso is similar to one introduced earlier in the legislative session in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In late February, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney reintroduced a bill to Congress that would remove grizzly bears from the endangered species list and prevent them from being considered threatened or endangered wildlife in the future.

Cheney’s bill would direct the Department of the Interior to re-issue its 2017 decision to remove grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the endangered species list and prohibit further judicial review of this decision. It would also turn management of the grizzlies over to the states.

No action has been taken on the bill.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

First Grizzly Bear Of 2021 Spotted In Yellowstone

in Yellowstone/News/Grizzly Bears
9396

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Yellowstone National Park has documented its first bear sighting of the year, it announced Tuesday.

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 the 2021, 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.

Male grizzlies come out of hibernation in early March. Female with cubs usually emerge in April and early May.

“When bears first emerge from hibernation, they look for carcasses at lower elevations and spring vegetation in thermal meadows and south-facing slopes or nourishment,” said Kerry Gunther, the park’s bear management biologist.

While this may be good news for wildlife enthusiasts, it may bring up different emotions for people who have been attacked by bears like the Choteau, Montana, man who nearly had his head ripped off by a grizzly last July.

Shannun Rammel said he heard there was a grizzly bear around his property and when he saw the door of an abandoned shed open, he snuck up to it only to find the bear he was looking for. The bear was not impressed and subsequently attacked Rammel.

If it wasn’t for his quick-thinking wife who tried to run over the bear in her truck, he may not have lived through the incident.

When bears emerge from hibernation, they look for food and often feed on elk and bison that died over the winter. Sometimes, bears will react aggressively while feeding on carcasses.

All of Yellowstone National Park is bear country: from the deepest backcountry to the boardwalks around Old Faithful.

The chances for encounters between bears and visitors are slim right now — the park’s winter season ended Monday and it is not scheduled to open for the spring season until mid-April and early May.

Nonetheless, the park is reminding any visitors to protect themselves and the bears by following certain guidelines:

  • Prepare for a bear encounter.
  • Carry bear spray, know how to use it, and make sure it’s accessible.
  • Stay alert.
  • Hike or ski in groups of three or more, stay on maintained trails, and make noise. Avoid hiking at dusk, dawn, or at night.
  • Do not run if you encounter a bear.
  • Stay 100 yards (91 m) away from black and grizzly bears. Use binoculars, a telescope, or telephoto lens to get a closer look.
  • Store food, garbage, barbecue grills, and other attractants in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes.
  • Report bear sightings and encounters to a park ranger immediately.
  • Learn more about bear safety.

While firearms are allowed in the park, the discharge of a firearm by visitors is a violation of park regulations.

Bear spray has proven effective in deterring bears defending cubs and food sources. It can also reduce the number of bears killed by people in self-defense.

The park restricts certain visitor activities in locations where there is a high density of elk and bison carcasses and lots of bears.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Cheney Reintroduces Bill to Delist Grizzlies As “Threatened Wildlife”

in News/Liz Cheney/Grizzly Bears
9064

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney recently reintroduced a bill to Congress that would remove grizzly bears from the endangered species list and prevent them from being considered threatened or endangered wildlife in the future.

Last week, Cheney reintroduced the Grizzly Bear State Management Act, a follow-up to a bill introduced by her retired colleague, U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, in 2019.

“This legislation would return the management of the grizzly to the state-level, where it belongs,” Cheney said. “The federal government or unelected judges and bureaucrats should not be in the business of telling us how to operate. The state and people of Wyoming know what’s best for Wyoming.”

The bill would direct the Department of the Interior to re-issue its 2017 decision to remove grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the endangered species list and prohibit further judicial review of this decision. It would also turn management of the grizzlies over to the states.

“The bill would also stop the abuse of the court system by environmental extremists and safeguard the scientifically proven delisting determination so that politically-motivated conservations cannot take advantage of that process,” Cheney said.

The grizzly bear was first listed on the federal threatened species list in 1975.

In 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed grizzlies from the endangered species list, citing a significant increase in bear populations and a doubling of their range land.

“I was proud to work on this legislation for years with Sen. Enzi and will continue to fight for it in the House of Representatives while working with my colleagues to fight for Wyoming’s statutory right to manage our wildlife,” Cheney said.

Enzi previously argued that while proper management of grizzly bears is critical to protecting the species, it is also critical to protect people from potential attacks, along with the species that grizzly bears prey on.

“As the grizzly bear population has increased in Wyoming, so has the danger these animals pose to livestock, property and to humans,” Enzi said. “That’s why I believe the authority to manage the species needs to be turned over to the states. I have often found that states are better suited to address these kinds of issues because they are more familiar with the unique needs of their own communities and ecosystems.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

26 Grizzlies Captured, 18 Euthanized in Wyoming Last Year

in News/Grizzly Bears
8844

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department captured 26 grizzly bears and euthanized 18 of them throughout 2020.

The department detailed the capture of the bears in its annual report on bear captures, relocations and removals in northwest Wyoming.

Over 2020, the department captured 26 bears in 27 different events (one bear was captured twice) in an attempt to prevent or resolve conflicts. Of the 26 bears capture, 18 were male and eight were female.

Over the year, 13 captures were a result of a bear killing livestock (primarily cattle) and the other 13 were related to bears obtaining food rewards or frequenting developed sites, the report said.

Of the captures, 15 took place in Park County, more than half. Five were in Sublette County, three were in Fremont County and two each were in Hot Springs and Teton counties.

The nine bears that were relocated were released on U.S. Forest Service lands in Park, Teton and Fremont counties, according to the report.

One bear was captured twice. The grizzly was captured first in July in Teton County and moved to Park County. After being captured a second time in Park county in August, the bear was euthanized, in part because of its aggressive behavior.

Bears are euthanized if they have a history of conflicts with humans, a known association with humans or they are deemed unsuitable to live in the wild.

The report detailed all 27 of the captures, which began in April and wrapped up in November.

According to a previous report July 27 to Aug. 21, six different grizzlies were captured southeast of the Moran Junction, with five of them being collared.

Information from the collared grizzlies provides data on survival, reproduction, distribution, habitat use and movements of the population.

Each summer, Game and Fish Department biologists and other researchers conduct grizzly bear observation flights to document grizzly numbers, distribution and reproduction. These observation flights have been conducted in the greater Yellowstone area since the 1990s.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Grizzly 168 Was One of Four Yellowstone Grizzlies to Live Past 30

in News/Grizzly Bears
8534

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A grizzly that was captured and euthanized last summer was recently discovered to be the oldest-known grizzly in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.

At 34, the male grizzly identified as “Grizzly 168” was one of four that Wyoming Game and Fish biologists have found that have lived more than three decades. Usually, females tend to live longer.

“We keep a life history of every animal we’ve ever handled, and we’ve studied more than 1,000 bears,” Game and Fish large carnivore section supervisor Dan Thompson told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday. “We only know of four bears that have lived 30-plus years. It’s a pretty rare occurrence.”

Grizzlies have an average lifespan of 20 to 25 years, Thompson said.

Grizzly 168 was captured last July after preying on calves and was ultimately euthanized due to its age and relatively poor health. The bear’s teeth had mostly fallen out or worn away, leaving three large nubs in its mouth.

Thompson said the bear’s omnivore lifestyle was the likely reason it had managed to stay alive so long. Instead of only relying on fresh meat for their diets, bears can subsist on plants, bugs and around 70 more types of food found in the Yellowstone ecosystem.

The Yellowstone ecosystem has numerous bears in their 20s that are still doing pretty well, Thompson said.

“I think it speaks to the life history and behavioral strategies of grizzly bears,” Thompson said. “They’re honestly the epitome of opportunism and resiliency. They’re so adaptable.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Game and Fish: Grizzly 399, Cubs Likely Back In Their Den

in News/Grizzly Bears
8199

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Grizzly 399 and her four cubs are likely back in their den after being spotted on New Year’s Day, a Wyoming Game and Fish spokesman said Tuesday.

Spokesman Mark Gocke told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that although most collared grizzly bears in the Jackson region head for their dens around late November or early December, this isn’t the first time 399 has stayed out later than most.

“It seems she has learned to take advantage of the remains from late season elk hunts in the area,” Gocke said.

While the elk hunts in Grand Teton National Park and the National Elk Refuge ended mid-December, 399 and her cubs have spent the last three weeks in some of the more remote areas of the refuge to feed on gut-piles and the remains of elk carcasses left in the field.

“Staying out a little longer for this high-protein food source has proven pretty productive for grizzly 399 and her offspring,” Gocke said.

Because 399 dropped her radio collar, the Game and Fish department can’t track her movements like other bears in the area, so it relies on eyewitness reports.

The last report of the bear family came in on Friday, when it was spotted in the northern area of Grand Teton heading toward an area where 399 has denned in the past.

“We are presuming they have denned up now,” he said. “Grizzly bears will often dig new dens from one year to the next, so we don’t know exactly where she will den, but this would generally align with what she has done in the past as far as location and timing.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Grizzly 399 Christmas Update: Bear Family Has Plenty of Food

in News/Grizzly Bears
8056

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Our friends at EnjoyYourParks.com keep a close lookout for Grizzly 399 and her cubs.

On Wednesday evening, they reported that although there have been no photo opportunities of the five-some since Thanksgiving, it doesn’t mean they haven’t been seen.

They report that hunters who have special permits to hunt in Grand Teton National Park have spotted the family and “all reports have been good news.”

“Every year Grizzly 399 relies on elk gut piles left by hunters, but this year these gut piles were especially important because she has four cubs to provide for as well,” they said.

“The great news is that there was a considerably higher than normal amount of elk gut piles this year in Grand Teton National Park, and this was exactly what these 5 bears needed to adequately fatten up before heading for their den,” they reported.

The site says the bears are looking healthy and they don’t know if they have begun hibernating yet.

“If 399 is still easily finding food, chances are that she still might be out and about,” they said.

“What we are thrilled about is that they’ve been eating well, which very much increases the chances that this remarkable bear family will survive the long Teton winter.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Grizzly 399, Cubs Sighted Back In Grand Teton

in News/Grizzly Bears/Bears
7622

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter*

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.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Interior Department Uses Grizzly 399, Cubs As Perfect Example Of How To Travel In Bear Country

in News/Grizzly Bears
7598

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

We’re not saying we used a Twitter post as an excuse to write about Grizzly 399, the objectively best bear in Yellowstone, but hey, at least it’s not politics, right?

The U.S. Department of Interior on Wednesday showed off an image of the 24-year-old mama bear and her four cubs, noting they were the best example of how to hike in bear country.

“A sweet reminder to give other families you see on the trail plenty of space! Take it from Grizzly 399, the safest way to hike in bear country is with groups of 3 or more,” the tweet read, alongside with a picture of the grizzly and her four cubs walking away from the camera (which is probably for the best).

While we all love watching 399 and her cubs, there’s been concern recently about their eating habits. The five-some ventured farther south this fall and have been eating some human-related items, such as honey from a beekeeper’s hives and a compost pile.

That’s concerns Wyoming Game and Fish Regional Supervisor Brad Hovinga.

“Here’s a bear that’s long habituated to being around people,” Hovinga told the Jackson Hole News & Guide. “Now she’s in a new area that has different food sources, and some of those food sources are associated with human and residential activity.”

Wildlife photographer and advocate Tom Mangelsen was upset with the beekeeper for not properly taking care of his property.

“That’s not good,” Mangelsen told the newspaper. “The beekeeper needs to take responsibility for leaving honey out that the bears might find. Same thing with compost.

“You can’t just have stuff out,” he said, “and expect the bears to not find it and eat it.”

It’s not the first time this year, there has been worry about the most photographed group of bears.

One of her cubs was spotted limping around a month ago, but has seemed to improve since then.

In September, the bear family was caught on camera while the cubs were playing with traffic cones in Grand Teton National Park.

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.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Good News: Facial Recognition Software For Grizzlies Is Coming

in News/Grizzly Bears
7274

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter*** 

Although it may not be as pivotal as a COVID-19 vaccine, if you were wondering when facial recognition software for grizzly bears might be developed, you’re in luck.

A university in Canada has teamed up with a software firm (also out of Canada) to come up with exactly that.

The goal is not to empower tourists with an iPhone app so they can run after grizzlies to find out their names (which sadly they would do in great numbers).

A University of Victoria biologist told the Times Colonist newspaper that this is more of a wildlife management idea. 

“Learning about individual animals and their life stories can really have positive effects on public engagement and really help with conservation efforts,” Melanie Clapham said.

Besides, it’s uncertain whether the trail runner who bounced off a grizzly at Glacier National Park in July would want to know the history of the bear anyway.

She might just be happy that the bear didn’t rip her head off. 

Same goes for the Montana man in August who snuck up on a grizzly bear in an abandoned shed and nearly did have his head ripped off. 

He probably is not interested in knowing where the grizzly was born.

But for wildlife management workers, it could be helpful.

The authors of the study say instead of capturing and tagging bears, “camera traps” would be used.

“We could capture many more individuals with this method and track them, observe their movements in relation to food, and do much better population assessments,” Clapham said.

If this sounds way too far-fetched, it’s not.  It’s already in use with chimpanzees and gorillas (for what, we have no idea).

Orca whales may be next (of course).

“It would help a lot of people if we could easily say whether a whale is transient or a resident as the rules for watching them are different, but the average person can’t tell the difference,” a Canadian biologist said.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***