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Bears

Bear Fight Breaks Out In Lake Tahoe Shed

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

It’s not every day that two bears get into a brawl in someone’s backyard. Or even more specifically, the shed in the backyard.

Better yet, the brief bout between the bruins was captured on video.

A webcam picked up the one round action. It was fast and furious for a few seconds before one bear realized he was outmatched by the other.

The fighting woke up the homeowner who thought it might have been a bear and raccoon who were exchanging fists, er paws.

Then she ran out there to find out it was a battle of bears.

“I screamed and my dogs started barking and we ran out there to break it up,” Lisa Quick said.

Thankfully, Quick didn’t follow through with her plan of action. She later said that she sees bears every day “but we’ve never had them fight before.”

“They are loners and don’t travel together,” she said.

Someone forgot to tell the bears.

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Captured Black Bear Released From Casper To Bighorn Mountains

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A young black bear spotted in a Casper neighborhood was safely transported out of the city on Sunday evening, a Wyoming Game and Fish Department spokeswoman told Cowboy State Daily on Monday.

Department spokeswoman Sara DiRienzo said that the bear was captured and immobilized Sunday morning and transported to the southern Bighorn Mountains later in the day, where it was released.

“It’s not uncommon for black bears to be spotted in town this time of year,” she said. “Cubs are separating from their mothers in the springtime and are on the move to new territory of their own.”

Casper police initially believed there were multiple bears in the area on Sunday, but there was only one.

One of the more famous examples of bears separating from their mother is famed grizzly 399, whose four cubs left the den last month. The cubs are around 2 years old and one was hazed not long after leaving its mother.

Last week, the Idaho Fish and Game Department issued a release warning residents of Salmon, Idaho, that a grizzly was spotted in the area, which is uncommon for that portion of Idaho.

“Most of Idaho’s grizzly bear populations are in the northern Panhandle area and the area in and around Yellowstone National Park in eastern Idaho,” officials said.

“But young male grizzlies may wander long distances and into areas where people don’t expect to encounter them. These young male bears typically wander through an area, but do not remain there,” they said.

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Game And Fish Capture Bear In Casper Sunday Morning

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Photo by Elizabeth Hansen
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Staff reports

A bear was captured in Casper on Sunday morning, according to the Casper Police Department.

The law enforcement agency reported that just after 8 a.m., Wyoming’s Game and Fish Department was able to capture the lone bear.

Earlier reports said there were three bears wandering in Casper.  But police revised the report later and confirmed there was only one.

Casper resident Elizabeth Hansen took a photo of the bear near Cottonwood Elementary School.

“Just saw one walk past my living room window,” Hansen said on Facebook. 

Earlier in the day, residents were advised to stay in their homes while officials worked to contain the animal.

Bear Sightings In The West

Bear sightings in some Wyoming communities are not an anomaly, although sightings are less frequent in larger towns.

In the Jackson area, reports of bears are common as the world observed in the last two years with the constant monitoring of celebrity Grizzly 399 and her four cubs, which were frequently seen in the area.

Earlier this week, the Idaho Fish and Game Department issued a release warning residents of Salmon, Idaho, that a grizzly was spotted in the area, which is uncommon for that portion of Idaho.

“Most of Idaho’s grizzly bear populations are in the northern Panhandle area and the area in and around Yellowstone National Park in eastern Idaho,” officials said.

“But young male grizzlies may wander long distances and into areas where people don’t expect to encounter them. These young male bears typically wander through an area, but do not remain there,” they said.

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More Proof Of Spring In Rocky Mountains: Bear Breaks Into Car, Destroys It

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Man tries to pet moose and gets repeatedly stomped. Check.

Man gets too close to bison and gets chased off.  Check.

Person leaves bear attractant in car and car gets demolished.  Check.

The trifecta makes it official: Spring is in full bloom in the Rocky Mountain West.

Sadly, there’s no video of the latest indicator of a forthcoming glorious tourism season but there are photos — which are glorious — and serve as a good reminder that bears are bears and people will never listen.

Bears can open doors. Especially unlocked doors. Especially when there are bear attractants inside.

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Service on Monday sent out that reminder after showing what appears to be left of an SUV.

Leather seats ripped open exposing gobs of orange foam. Plastic casing spilling out of the door. Rubber strips dangling. Car trashed.



Sunday’s incident pales to last year’s fabulous story where a bear was attracted by the scent of beer and not only trashed the car but drank almost a full case before exiting.

This year, the culprit was just lip gloss but it was enough to ruin the vehicle.

“There was no food/trash left inside here, but there was lip gloss,” a spokesperson for the wildlife service said. “It’s scent was strong enough to entice the bear to check it out.”

“Keep unwanted guests out of your cars by locking the doors and removing anything with a scent,” they said.

For what it’s worth: Keep car doors and windows closed and locked if you park outside. Make sure there’s nothing with an odor in your vehicle, including candy, gum, air fresheners, trash, lotions or lip balms.

Also, don’t make pants out of bacon and then wear them into the wilderness.

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In Effort To Thwart Bear/Human Contact, Wildlife Group Donates Free Bear-Proof Trash Cans

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Wyoming wildlife advocacy group is offering free bear-proof trash cans to the residents of Teton County in an attempt to cut down on bear encounters that could potentially turn fatal.

The new program, known as Jackson Hole Bear Solutions, was launched by Wyoming Wildlife Advocates on Monday in an attempt to reduce the number of bears being lured by the scent of garbage into areas frequented by humans.

The worldwide-popularity of grizzly 399 and her four cubs have made the issue of bear survival in human-populated areas explosive.

While the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department have warned the public that bears which get into trouble may suffer consequences such as hazing, relocation, and euthanasia, bear activists argue preventive measures are preferable.

Under this program, special trash cans that block the scent of garbage and resist bears’ attempts to open them will be provided to any resident or business in Teton County, regardless of financial status, who requests one.

“Residential trash is the primary attractant luring bears into our neighborhoods,” said Drew Gath, Jackson Hole Bear Solutions program manager. “Distributing bear-resistant trash cans to as many residents as possible is the first step we need to take in order to reduce human-bear conflict, saving bears’ lives and keeping our neighborhoods safe.”

Solutions aren’t cheap. Bear-proof trash cans can cost anywhere from several hundred dollars to more than $1,000.

The Teton County Board of Commissioners earlier this month unanimously voted to require the use of bear-proof trash cans by all county residents, so the program will allow for everyone in the county to obtain one of the trash cans to comply with the new order.

The program will also offer other resources including materials and installation assistance for electric fencing to secure bear attractants such as apiaries, compost piles and chicken coops.

The move by the county commissioners was prompted in part by the bear known as Grizzly 399 and her four cubs accessing beehives, unsecured animal feed and trash cans last year before being escorted out of Jackson late last fall.

Support From Local Business

Jason Williams, a Jackson businessman and chairman of the Jackson Chamber Board of Directors, said the availability of free trash cans is important — especially for community members who may not be in a position to buy one.

Further, Wyoming Wildlife Advocacy is a group he said he personally supports because of the way it operates.

“They are a real lean and mean organization,” Williams told Cowboy State Daily.  “They don’t have a lot of administrative overhead which is why I support them.

“They’re  very action-oriented,” he said. “So, take the money, order the trash cans and get them out in the field. Period.”

Living in Bear Country

According to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, those who live in bear country need to store garbage where bears can neither smell nor gain access to it, whether that’s in a bear-proof trash can or inside of a building that bears cannot access.

Forty-five bears were captured in 49 separate incidents by the department last year. Of those, 30 bears were killed, one because of its sick and emaciated state.

A report released by the department earlier this year said that 17 of the 30 bears killed were found outside of the area of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem considered suitable for the long-term viability of grizzlies.

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

To request a bear-resistant trash can or other attractant-securing material, Teton County residents can visit jhbearsolutions.org.

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42 Grizzly Bears Killed So Far in Wyoming This Year

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

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

Usually the car gets destroyed which we admittedly find enjoyable. 

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

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

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

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

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

We have no idea where this happened. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time…

Jimmy Orr: Bear Obliterates Truck. I Mean REALLY Obliterates Truck

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Jimmy Orr on bear destruction
Jimmy Orr writes: If there was a bear Hall of Fame, this one should get inducted.
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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Locking the car doors may seem like a simple task to many of us, but to others it’s an insurmountable burden. A Sisyphean job so onerous that it can’t be done.

That’s why there are so many reminders from the police that hitting that daunting button after exiting a vehicle is a good strategy.

Wildlife officials issue that same call endlessly.

But some dopes individuals don’t get it.

Vehicles are stolen, goods inside vehicles are stolen and bears sometimes turn into Tasmanian Devils and destroy cars.

Happened again on Monday.

A bear opened up a door of a truck in South Park, Colorado, and absolutely obliterated the truck’s interior.

If there was a Hall of Fame for destruction caused by bears, this is a sure-fire nominee.

Now, the animal looked quite content with its surroundings in the first photo shared by Colorado Park & Wildlife (below).

Sure, the rear view mirror was dangling from the ceiling. But outside of that, it looked like he was in the driver’s seat just hanging out. Perhaps smoking a doobie (it is Colorado) and listening to Classic Vinyl on Sirius-XM.

Maybe “Wooden Ships” by Crosby, Stills, & Nash is just fading and that’s when he realizes he can’t get out. Or there’s no beer in the vehicle. Making it much less desirable than the truck in Larkspur, Colorado, that was broken into in June by a bear that drank the beer inside it before stumbling away.

Regardless, bears seem to break in just fine. Exiting? That’s a struggle.

So what to do?

Rip the crap out of the car.

And it did.

In the second photo, the truck isn’t even recognizable.

It looks like a living room on the TV show Hoarders.

Door panel ruined. Cushions ripped to shreds. Things dangling which aren’t meant to dangle. Absolute annihilation.

Holy cow! We want video.

But there is good news. The bear was released and happily bounded away (photo below).

And the Colorado Parks and Wildlife department was left to issue that same old warning:

  1. Remove anything with a scent from your vehicle.
  2. Make sure to always keep your car doors locked.

See you next time.

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Three Bears Hit By Cars Last Week Between Cody & Yellowstone

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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.”

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Wyo Game & Fish Kills Black Bear For Trying To Get Human Food

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By Joy Ufford, Pinedale Roundup

A Wyoming Game and Fish’s large-carnivore conflict team on Aug. 29 lethally removed a troublesome male black bear pushing the limits to get human food.

Hikers and campers coming out of the Big Sandy and Clear Lake areas on Aug. 24-25 started reporting incidents with the bear tearing down their properly hung food and testing food, gear and packs nearly every night since at least Aug. 23, according to supervisor Dan Thompson.

“The bear was very keyed in on attempting to procure people’s food at night and was fairly complacent around people, however many had scared it off,” he said. “Unfortunately the bear’s behavior and food-conditioned tactics left no options other than lethal removal for the sake of human safety.”

Most of the hikers and campers in the area do properly secure their attractants, Thompson said. “However, this bear had learned in the past that this was an easy food source and its behavior had escalated toward seeking out human foods despite a fairly abundant berry crop.”

The bear’s behavior “reached a point where it couldn’t be tolerated,” he said.

Game and Fish employees went in to Big Sandy Lake on Friday morning, Aug. 27, and after visiting with a number of people, decided it had to be removed.

The “fat” bear was a male, 5 to 7 years old.

“There are still more bears out there, but this particular bear is no longer an issue,” Thompson said.

The Big Sandy area is well traveled this summer with more people than usual coming and going, he added, and anyone who experiences problems with bears – black or grizzlies – are advised to report incidents to Wyoming Game and Fish.

Hikers and campers are urged to continue hanging and storing food and other items with smells that attract bears. Thompson said the Forest Service is considering installing more bear-proof boxes and poles to reduce potential food conflicts.

“We urge people to secure their attractants and don’t do something stupid like feed a bear, as (lethal removal) may be the end result of these types of occurrences, he said.”

Report incidents to the Wyoming Game and Fish Pinedale Office at 307-367-4352, 432 Mill St., Pinedale, or to Sublette County Sheriff’s Office, 307-367-4378.

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

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

No word on whether the bear guzzled all 24 cans of beer but authorities say at least 20 of the beers were consumed.

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

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

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

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

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wyoming Game and Fish Resuming Bear Capture, Collaring Operations

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Grand Teton Natl Park Closes Area Due To Awakening Grizzlies

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bear Sings In Tree, Deserves Record Deal

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo Credit: EnjoyYourParks.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’ll keep you posted.

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Emaciated Black Bear Cub Euthanized in Lander

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Photo credit: Lander Volunteer Fire Department

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We take the opposite stance, however.

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

If you voted, congratulations. There is a winner.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Black Bear Breaks Into Estes Park YMCA To Raid Refrigerator

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s hoping the bear sticks to the woods.

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

Posted by Anna Williams on Friday, October 2, 2020

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Convenience Store Worker Unhappy He Has to Fight Bears on the Job

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WILD VIDEO! This video shows some crazy confrontations between bears and people at two stores in the Lake Tahoe area last month. STORY: bit.ly/3bikaiR

Posted by WFLA News Channel 8 on Tuesday, 1 September 2020

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We love bear stories. And although this bear story didn’t happen in Wyoming, we’ll still mention it because it’s a good bear story.

Turns out, a convenience store worker in Lake Tahoe doesn’t like some of his customers.

It’s unlikely that he will be charged with discrimination for trying to block them from entering his store, however. Because the customers in question are bears.

TV station WFLA obtained surveillance video of bears entering and hanging out in Paul Heigh’s convenience store and it’s pretty remarkable.

One bear appears quite content lying on the floor and eating a bag of candy.

It’s great video. Hilarious, in fact.

Unless you’re the one that has to deal with it.

Employee Paul Heigh has to deal with it.  He told the TV station that he didn’t expect this when he took the job.

“This wasn’t in the job description,” Heigh said. “Fighting off bears was not in the job description.”

Heigh was fed up enough to try to block the bear from entering the store until the bear lunged at him. Heigh wasn’t injured but decided to let the bear enter his store.

The local Bear League didn’t seem to have any concern over the safety of Heigh or any human customers. Its focus is on the bear.

“The bear should not be going into buildings where someone could shoot him or kill him or the department of wildlife could kill him,” Bear League spokesperson Ann Bryant said.

What to do?

The TV station reported that “experts” told business owners to disable automatic doors so they can’t “just walk inside.”

Experts also recommended using Pine-Sol. For what, we don’t know.

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Three Bears Crash Into House; Steal Peaches and Chocolate

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When you live in bear country, you might have bears for visitors.

That’s what happened to the Redfoot family earlier this week in Red Lodge, Montana. 

Three bears — a mama black bear with two cubs — entered the house through a screen window and began to dine on peaches and chocolate.

Although some people (namely us) would run out of the house screaming our heads off, the visitors didn’t daunt Kathy Redfoot.

She told the rude visitors to leave.

“I came out of the bedroom to find Kathy chasing them back out of the window. They were no match for my Momma Bear!” Don Redfoot posted on his Facebook page.

The corresponding photo shows his wife taking a stand against one of the bears in the disheveled (thanks to the bears) kitchen.

In a situation like that when your wife is going mano a mano against a bear, why take a photo?

She told the Billings Gazette that she asked him to although he apparently didn’t understand his wife’s direction.

“I meant of the cubs, not me,” she told the newspaper. “Don is always taking pictures.”

She said her first instinct was to call the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks department for advice but ended up just kicking them out of her house instead.

So she clapped and yelled at the bears until they felt unwelcome and it apparently worked.

“[The bear] never appeared threatening or fierce,” she said of the mama bear. “It appeared nonchalant and not too concerned about me.”

The bears continued to not be concerned about the Redfoots as they came back by the house the following day.

“Unfortunately, having been rewarded for their efforts last night, the momma bear and her cubs were back for more this afternoon,” Don Redfoot posted

“The momma had moved to an area where I couldn’t get a shot out of our front windows, but the cubs were right by our front door playing with the “Deer Out” spray bottle that Kathy Kenyon keeps by the flower box. Perhaps, that accounts for the look on their faces like they had a bad taste in their mouths. Be bear aware folks!” he said.

The bears came back again, by the way. But this time just to play with some stuffed animals outside of their house.

“I have to say that they are much cuter in this video than they were in our kitchen a couple of nights ago!!!” Don Redfoot said of the three-minute video he posted.

Just before we saw them in front of our house yesterday, our local bears had some playtime with Teddy and Simba in the…

Posted by Don Redfoot on Tuesday, August 25, 2020

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Grizzly Bear Captures To Continue At Yellowstone Until October

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Grizzly bear capture operations in Yellowstone National Park have been extended from Aug. 28 to Oct. 23, the National Park Service announced Monday.

In order to attract bears for research, biologists use natural food sources such as fresh road-killed deer and elk. Potential capture sites are baited with these natural foods and if indications are that grizzly bears are in the area, culvert traps or foot snares will be used to capture the bears.

Once captured, bears are handled in accordance with strict safety and animal care protocols.

Capture operations can include a variety of activities, but all areas where work is being conducted will have primary access points marked with warning signs.
 
Monitoring of grizzly bear distribution and other activities are vital to ongoing recovery of grizzly bears in the Yellowstone Ecosystem.
 
Whenever bear capture activities are being conducted for scientific purposes, the area around the site will be posted with bright warning signs to inform the public of the activities occurring. These signs are posted along the major access points to the capture site.

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National Park Service Recommends Not Pushing Your Friend Down in Case of Bear Attack

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You have to admire any government agency that steps away from standard government language to deliver a message that people may actually read.

The National Park Service did that today in a Facebook post designed to help people not get mauled by bears.

It’s a problem. Grizzly bear attacks, for example, are running at historic highs for this time of season in the Greater Yellowstone Region.

So the National Park Service put together some tips — interspersed with much-needed humor — to help novices who really don’t belong out in the wilderness anyway.

“Please don’t run from bears or push your slower friends down in attempts of saving yourself,” the post reads.

“If you come upon a stationary bear, move away slowly and sideways; this allows you to keep an eye on the bear and avoid tripping. Moving sideways is also non-threatening to bears. Do NOT run, but if the bear follows, stop and hold your ground. Like dogs, they will chase fleeing animals. Do NOT climb a tree. Both grizzlies and black bears can climb trees,” they write.

Our favorite part is next: “Do NOT push down a slower friend (even if you think the friendship has run its course).”

The rest of the advice is pretty simple and good to remember.

“Stay calm and remember that most bears do not want to attack you; they usually just want to be left alone. Don’t we all? Identify yourself by making noise so the bear knows you are a human and not a prey animal. Help the bear recognize you as a human. 

“We recommend using your voice. (Waving and showing off your opposable thumb means nothing to the bear) The bear may come closer or stand on its hind legs to get a better look or smell. A standing bear is usually curious, not threatening.”

Our favorite part is the ending:

“P.S. We apologize to any ‘friends’ who were brought on a hike as the ‘bait’ or were sacrificed to save the group. You will be missed.”

Find more tips, check out https://www.nps.gov/subjects/bears/index.htm

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Black Bear Euthanized In Grand Teton National Park After It Becomes Food Conditioned

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A black bear was euthanized Thursday in Grand Teton National Park for public safety, according to a news release from the National Park Service.

The decision to remove the bear from the population was based on recent activity in which it exhibited no fear of humans and approached humans looking for food.

The bear was highly food conditioned and routinely visited campsites, picnic tables and approaching vehicles in the Jenny Lake and String Lake areas.

On Wednesday, the bear walked into an occupied campsite where a family with children were, went directly to the picnic table and began eating the campers’ food that was set out.

Park staff immediately responded to the scene. The campers were relocated to another site and the area was closed so the bear could be safely captured.

The bear was trapped and killed Thursday evening. The female bear was about 1.5 years old and weighed around 60 pounds.

Feeding wildlife in a national park is illegal and presents severe risks to the animal and to humans. Grizzly and black bears thrive in Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller Jr., Memorial Parkway.

Visitors to the park may encounter a bear anywhere and at any time.

The proper storage of food items and responsible picnicking are important in bear country. Odors attract bears into campgrounds and picnic areas.

Picnickers should only have immediate use items out 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.

Don’t burn waste in fire rings or leave litter in campsites.

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Black Bear Spotted in Curt Gowdy State Park

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We always love a good bear story and 2020 has some good ones already.

Anyone who follows the Facebook page Wyoming Through the Lens has been able to watch the adventures of the grizzly bear called “399” and her four cubs.

Then there’s the story of the furthest south documented grizzly sighting in 50-plus years who was spotted near Kemmerer a couple weeks ago.

Now there’s a confirmed sighting of a black bear near Curt Gowdy State Park in southern Wyoming.

This isn’t that momentous as black bears have a big range in the U.S., from Alaska to Florida, and they are listed as a “least-concern species” due to their widespread distribution and large population.. 

The reason the state park is calling attention to the bear is more cautionary in nature. 

“The bear is reported to have cubs with her, which can lead to a potentially dangerous encounter,” the park wrote on its Facebook page.

What to do if you encounter this bear or any bear?

Don’t attempt to feed it beets or strike up a conversation about Battlestar Galactica. It works on a sitcom, but not in real life.

Instead the U.S. Forest Service offers this advice:

  • DO NOT RUN.
  • Remain calm.
  • Group together and pick up small children.
  • Continue to face the bear and back away slowly, talking calmly to identify yourself as a human.
  • If the bear continues to approach, try to scare it away by making yourself as large and imposing as possible by stretching your arms overhead and making loud noises.
  • Carry and know how to use bear spray, which is available at many outdoor retailers and can be used to deter a charging bear.

And if worst comes to worst, just remember this old joke: You don’t have to outrun a bear. You just have to outrun your friend.

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Wyoming Game And Fish To Begin Bear Trapping

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department announced Wednesday that as part of an ongoing effort to monitor grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, it would trap grizzly bears in the northwest portion of the state over the next few months.

Department biologists will conduct grizzly bear trappings in both front- and backcountry areas. All areas where trapping is being conducted will have major access points marked with warning signs. All trap sites will be posted with area closure signs in the direct vicinity.

When captured, the bears are collared, released on site and monitored by the Game and Fish Department and the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team.

This is an annual event and is vital to the ongoing management and conservation of grizzlies in the state.

Information obtained through the department’s efforts is used to assess the status and health of grizzly bears and provides insight into population dynamics.

All of this is critical to the continued recovery of the Greater Yellowstone population.

This announcement comes days after department officials relocated a grizzly in Cody to Dubois. Earlier in May, a grizzly was captured and euthanized in Wapiti due to health issues and a Cody man was mauled by a bear.

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