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Grizzly Bears

26 Grizzlies Captured, 18 Euthanized in Wyoming Last Year

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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.

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

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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.”

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

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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.”

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Grizzly 399 Christmas Update: Bear Family Has Plenty of Food

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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.”

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Grizzly 399, Cubs Sighted Back In Grand Teton

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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Good News: Facial Recognition Software For Grizzlies Is Coming

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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.

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Fat Grizzly Bear Gets Into Another Altercation While Guarding His Bull Elk

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We’ve all been there. It’s late on Friday. You have a few thousand beers. You order a large Meat-Lover’s special and hork down a couple of slices David Hasselhoff-style before you pass out upside down caught in the steps of a spiral staircase.

It’s a story as old as time.

You wake up the next day craving more of your pizza only to find it gone.

You learn from that experience to guard your food.

That’s what the grizzly bear in Yellowstone is doing after he downed that bull elk in the river.

A couple days he had to fend-off another grizzly in an epic — although short — battle.

Today, he’s having to deal with a wolf who think he can just waltz-in and grab a snack.

Credit the bear. He gives the wolf some crumbs. He lets the wolf know that he’s watching but won’t react if the wolf doesn’t get too greedy.

Of course the wolf takes that as the bear is more generous than he is and crosses the line.

And at about the 2:15 mark on the video, Fatty the Bear gets up and lets the wolf know the buffet is over.

Fatty is a smooth operator. He didn’t growl. He didn’t pounce. All he did was move and the wolf got the message.

Way to go, Fatty.

Hopefully for the wolf, there’s an unguarded buffet downstream.

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18 Bears Captured In Northwest Wyoming Over Summer

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Nearly 20 bears were captured over the summer in northwest Wyoming by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

The captures were part of the department’s ongoing efforts to monitor the population of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. A total of 18 bears were captured during the summer, 12 north and west of Dubois and six north of Jackson, the department said.

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

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

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

After their capture, the bears are released on site and monitored in accordance with guidelines developed by the Game and Fish Department and the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team.

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.

The annual monitoring of this population is vital to the ongoing management and conservation of grizzly bears in Wyoming.

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

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Two Grizzlies Fight Over Elk Carcass Like Walmart Shoppers on Black Friday

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Last week, reports (and video) of a grizzly bear in Yellowstone taking down a bull elk and feasting on his kill wound its way through the different social media channels.

This week we get to see two grizzlies fighting over the carcass like two shoppers battling over a TV at Walmart on Black Friday.

We don’t know which grizzly was responsible for the kill. But we do know that both grizzlies believe the elk carcass is rightfully theirs (just like the midnight shoppers at Walmart).

Because, just like Black Friday shoppers, grizzlies don’t believe that “sharing is caring,” one grizzly gets the best of the other grizzly and all the spoils go to the victor.

Hopefully for the bear that lost out, there’s a nice consolation prize downstream.

As for the videographer who captured the footage, he lived. He wasn’t attacked like so many others this season.

“I was able to film 2 Grizzlies fighting over the carcass early this morning.  National Geographic, eat your heart out,” Diver Dave wrote on his YouTube channel.

The footage is spectacular. The sound alone is worth the time to watch.

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