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Grizzly Bear

New York Hiker “Severely Mauled” By Grizzly Bear Near Meeteetse On Monday

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

An hiker from Buffalo, New York, was attacked by a grizzly bear on Monday near Meeteetse, Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Park County sheriff’s officials announced Tuesday.

On Monday, the Park County Sheriff’s Office notified the Game and Fish Department that a 68-year-old man had been injured by a bear while hiking Francs Peak west of Meeteetse. The unidentified man was flown to a hospital in Billings, Montana, where he was receiving treatment.

Cody Wildlife Management Coordinator Corey Class told Cowboy State Daily that this is possibly the second bear encounter that has occurred within a week.

“We are in the process of investigating a report of another bear encounter that occurred late last week and reportedly resulted in minor human injury,” Class said. “No further details are available for this incident and the joint U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/WGFD investigation is ongoing.”

According to sheriff’s officials, the department’s communications division received a report of a possible downed aircraft in the Francs Peak area from the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, which was was receiving a distress signal.

It was later found that the signal came from the injured man’s personal locator beacon.

The man was on a multi-day backpacking trip and had been “severely” mauled, sheriff’s officials said Tuesday.

The hiker’s medical status was not available as of Tuesday.

“We wish the individual a full and speedy recovery,” Class said.

According to Game and Fish Department officials, based on the initial investigation, the incident appears to have been the result of surprise encounter between the individual and a grizzly bear.

Class would not specify on Tuesday whether this was an encounter that could have been avoided or not, referring back to the initial Game and Fish Department release.

The man, an experienced recreationist, was hiking at high elevation when he encountered the bear at close range. The incident happened too suddenly for him to deploy the bear spray he was carrying, department officials said.  

Based on the information gathered during the initial investigation, the Game and Fish Department plans no management action at this time, but staff will continue to monitor bear activity in the area and make management decisions in the best interest of public safety.

According to the Powell Tribune, only one conflict between grizzly bears and humans has resulted in permanent removal from Wyoming’s ecosystem so far this year. In 2021, 31 grizzlies were removed in management decisions in Wyoming.

In April, the department’s large carnivore biologists removed a grizzly for cattle depredation in a collaborative decision with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The outlet also reported that the department averages about 20 relocations a year in a labor-intensive process involving multiple agencies and boots on the ground. 

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Montana Man Killed In Grizzly Attack North Of Yellowstone

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

A Montana man who was reported missing after hiking with a friend earlier this week was killed by a grizzly bear north of Yellowstone National Park, officials announced Friday.

Park County (Montana) Sheriff Brad Bichler said searchers had found Craig Clouatre, 40, early Friday afternoon.

“It appears he had an encounter with a grizzly and unfortunately did not survive,” Bichler said.  “We will continue to work through the afternoon to bring Craig home. Please keep his family and all those involved in your thoughts and prayers.”

Clouatre and a friend on Wednesday morning went to the Six Mile Area of the Absaroka Mountains to hunt for antler sheds.

Sheriff Bichler said the two split up that morning and Clouatre was not heard from again.

“When the other man returned to their vehicle and his friend wasn’t there, he called us and we began searching on Wednesday night,” the sheriff told the Livingston Enterprise.

An extensive search was called with helicopters, horse teams, and ground teams all being used.

“After flying thermal imaging late into the night, the search for Craig continues this morning,” Bichler had announced early on Friday.

Friends of Clouatre expressed their sympathies on the Park County Sheriff’s Facebook page.

“Craig was an awesome man,” wrote Paula Hill Laubach.  “It was an honor to have called him a friend. Thoughts are prayers are with his family.”

Tragedy struck the Clouatre’s family two years ago when their house burned down. Anne Tanner, a friend of the victim, told the Associated Press that the family had just recently recovered from the fire.

“He was finally just getting their house together,” Tanner said. “It just makes me angry that something like this could happen to such a good person…Of all the men I know, I can’t believe he would die in the wilderness. He was so strong and he was so smart.”

Clouatre was married to his wife Jamie and they had four children.

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Grizzly Bear Killed At Grand Teton After Becoming Food Conditioned

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Grizzly With Cubs Attack Two Hikers in Montana

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Two people were injured late Tuesday when they were attacked by a grizzly bear in southwestern Montana, officials said.

Around 8:30 p.m., two men were hiking with a dog off-trail in the Bear Creek area southeast of Ennis, Montana when they encountered a sow grizzly bear with cubs at close range. Sows with cubs can be especially defensive in close encounters with people.

During the encounter, the two hikers were injured by the bear. However, they were able to use bear spray to defend themselves.

Both hikers were able to leave the attack site without assistance and received treatment for relatively minor injuries.

A game warden with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks investigated the scene of the attack on Wednesday with law enforcement staff from the U.S. Forest Service. The trail nearest the incident has been closed and signed temporarily as a precaution.

Other trails in this area have also been signed, advising visitors of the incident, but no further action will be taken.

Officials believe this attack was likely defensive in nature.

This is the second time in recent weeks that a grizzly has injured someone in Montana. Last month, a woman was killed by a grizzly while in her tent.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a report this week regarding a West Yellowstone man who was killed earlier this year by a grizzly guarding a moose carcass. The grizzly in that incident was later killed after it charged wildlife investigators.

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West Yellowstone Man Found To Be At Fault For Fatal Grizzly Attack

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A West Yellowstone, Montana, man was ultimately found to be at fault for causing the fatal grizzly attack that resulted in his death earlier this year.

Charles “Carl” Wesley Mock, 40, was attacked by a grizzly bear on April 15 near the Baker’s Hole Campground, just outside of Yellowstone National Park two miles west of the Wyoming state line. He was alone and parked his vehicle at the campground entrance, both of which are well-posted with grizzly information.

A report on an investigation into the attack by officials from Wyoming, Idaho and Montana was released this week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“The tragic event of Mr. Mock being attacked by an adult male grizzly bear and subsequently dying from the attack, was the direct result of Mr. Mock’s own purposeful or random placed proximity to a moose carcass that an adult male bear had cached and was actively feeding on,” the report said.

“A short time before the adult male bear attacked Mr. Mock it may have defended or claimed the  moose carcass from another grizzly bear. If so, this would have contributed to the bear’s  extended aggressive defense of the moose carcass,” the report said.

Mock died two days after the attack from complications due to his severe head and neck injuries.

Officials couldn’t say whether Mock purposely went to the site of the attack. He was in possession of fishing gear and a telephoto lens, and the closest point to the Madison River is about 400 yards northeast of the attack site.

An examination of Mock’s fishing gear showed he hadn’t been actively fishing at the time the attack occurred.

It is estimated Mock was in the area for less than 90 minutes, but it can’t be determined exactly how long he’d been at the site before being attacked. It also isn’t clear whether Mock came upon the animal feeding or if he was already at the site and the grizzly happened upon the moose carcass.

An empty cannister of bear spray was found at the scene and the bear carcass’ hair contained bear spray residue, so officials did determine Mock was definitely aware of the potential for grizzly encounters in the area. It is unclear at what point during the attack (if not before) Mock used the bear spray.

While the overall effects of the bear spray on the grizzly aren’t known, the bear did quit attacking Mock at some point. Mock moved away and called 911, but the bear remained agitated, close to the attack site and the moose carcass.

The grizzly was killed April 16 as it charged the investigation team.

“The unfortunate subsequent death of Mr. Charles (Carl) Mock caused by a grizzly bear attack…reinforces the inherent possibility of people being involved in a serious grizzly  bear encounter and the need for individuals to know and try to follow known safety recommendations,” the report said.

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Grizzly Bear Spotted In Southwestern Wyoming Near Utah, Idaho

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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.

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First Grizzly Bear Of 2021 Spotted In Yellowstone

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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.

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Cheney Reintroduces Bill to Delist Grizzlies As “Threatened Wildlife”

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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.”

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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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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 Killed in Separate Incidents With Archery Hunters in Northwest Wyoming

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are investigating the deaths of two grizzly bears in separate confrontations with bow hunters in northwestern Wyoming.

In a news release issued Monday, the department said on Thursday night, a man who was archery hunting for elk in the Thorofare area was attacked and injured by a grizzly.

The bear was killed in the incident. The hunter was airlifted to a local hospital and received treatment.

In an incident on Saturday, a grizzly charged an archery hunter on Rattlesnake Mountain west of Cody. The bear was killed in the incident, but the hunter was uninjured.

Because grizzly bears are currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, Game and Fish coordinates extensively with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on any grizzly bear-related conflicts.

None of the grizzly skirmishes in Wyoming this year have ended with human fatalities. The last major report of a grizzly and human encounter in the state was in the Cody area back in July.

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Man Follows Park Service Advice & Helps Friend Attacked By Grizzly Rather Than Pushing Him Down

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Just last month the National Park Service advised people not to push their friends down in front of a bear if they are attacked.

That advice apparently works.

Two archery hunters from Idaho came upon a grizzly bear on Friday morning and one started to get mauled.

Instead of ensuring his friend was down on the ground and then running away, his friend decided — just like the Park Service advised — to help instead.

What makes this story even more bizarre is that this bear attack appears not to have been started by idiotic behavior of humans.

Unlike the Montana man who went searching for a grizzly bear in an abandoned barn (he found it) or the Montana woman who wasn’t paying attention while trail running and literally bounced off a grizzly, these two hunters appeared not to have done anything overwhelmingly stupid.

In fact, the Idaho Fish and Game Department credits the archery hunters for how they handled the situation: they were prepared.

The department said the victim (hunter #1) was pursuing an elk in a remote area of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest when he and his hunting companion (hunter #2) encountered the bear in thick brush.

Although you are supposed to be loud in grizzly country to not surprise a bear (Montana man: please take note), it kind of defeats the purpose when you are hunting — because you also alert the animal you’re hunting.

Regardless, the grizzly apparently went after hunter #1 who was able to deploy his bear spray right before he got knocked to the ground.

Following National Park Service advice of not pushing your friend down in front of the bear and running away, hunter #2 actually helped his buddy.

“The hunting companion came to his aid and deployed his own bear spray canister, shortening the duration of the attack and causing the bear to flee the area,” the department said.

“Their preparedness and use of bear spray allowed both hunters to walk out of the backcountry on their own accord to call for help,” they said.

As for the health of the hunter, he’ll be ok, apparently. He was transported to a local hospital for treatment.

To warn other visitors of bear in the bear country, the department is putting up signs to let them know there are bears present in the bear country.

Hopefully the signs will alert people who are in bear country that there are bears in the bear area.

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Enzi: Remove Yellowstone Grizzlies From Endangered Species List

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Grizzly bears in the Yellowstone National Park areas have recovered and should be removed from the endangered species list, U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi said this week.

Enzi addressed the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in support of his bill S.614, the Grizzly Bear State Management Act, which he introduced in February 2019.

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.

“Wildlife experts and federal officials agree that the grizzly bears in Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem have been fully recovered for years,” Enzi said in his testimony at the hearing. “Senseless litigation still continues to hinder the effective state management and protection of the species.”

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.

In September 2018, a federal judge in Montana ordered the Fish and Wildlife Service to return the grizzly bear to the endangered species list. The state of Wyoming appealed the decision, and in July, a federal appeals court in San Francisco upheld the continued protections for the grizzly bear.

Opponents of Enzi’s bill believe the animals remain threatened despite the Fish and Wildlife Service’s findings.

“This bogus hearing shrugs off the huge threats still facing these beleaguered bears,” Stephanie Kurose, a senior endangered species policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement Wednesday. “Yellowstone’s grizzly bears are some of America’s most iconic animals and still have a long way to go before recovery. If they lose protections, it will make it much more difficult to recover other grizzly populations in Idaho and other places south of Yellowstone.

“As the world faces both a wildlife extinction crisis and a global pandemic caused by our exploitation of nature, we need to strengthen protections for our most vulnerable animals and plants, not weaken them,” she continued.

Enzi 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.”

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso is one of the co-sponsors on the management act. U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney introduced an identical companion bill in the House of Representatives last year.

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Grizzly 399’s Cubs Stop Traffic To Wrestle & Play With Cones; No Tourist Gets Mauled

in News/Bears
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We just loved watching these four grizzly cubs playing and wrestling in the roadway! The wildlife volunteers did a great job of keeping the onlookers at bay. #100yardpledgeWe hope everyone enjoys.

Posted by PipesTraveler.com on Monday, 31 August 2020

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All we know is we want to travel with this guy.

On Monday, grizzly bear 399’s four cubs stopped traffic in Grand Teton National Park so they could play with some orange traffic cones and wrestle with each other.

Remarkably, instead of tourists getting out of their vehicles and attempting to pet them, everyone appeared to stay inside.

Inside of one stopped vehicle right next to the frolicking cubs were Chris and Liz Pipes, who travel the country in their RV and report on their activities.

From the video, it sound like Chris Pipes could be a former TV anchor. He described what he saw like someone might do the play-by-play of the Rose Parade.

“These are the famous cubs of bear 399, a 24-year-old sow grizzly bear and we’re catching them right on the edge of the road here,” narrates Pipes.

“They are just having a ball,” he said. “We haven’t seen No. 399 yet. We suspect she’s down in the woods right there.”

“But the cubs are just having a ball, playing with the cones and wrestling,” he said. “This is a pretty remarkable chance sighting of these guys. So much fun.”

Could it be that no one went to pet them because they know that 399 (or any grizzly) is not to be messed with?

She’s got quite a history. Possibly the most famous bear in the world. If you are new to 399, here’s a great story that is worth the read.

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Hikers Run From Grizzly While Onlookers Laugh

in News/Grizzly Bear Attacks
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GRIZZLY BEAR VIDEO: Thanks to Dulé Krivdich for sending in this video of grizzly bear running towards a group of hikers…

Posted by NBC Montana on Monday, August 31, 2020

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It’s a crazy video. Terrifying, even.

A group of hikers spotted a grizzly on a trail near Hidden Lake at Glacier National Park on Sunday.  Then this group of hikers saw another group of hikers on the same trail as the grizzly.

They did what any good neighbor would do. Start filming it.

Then, they let them know of the pending doom.

“We, from above, start yelling that there is a bear barreling down the same trail,” Dulé Krivdich told NBC Montana.

Krivdich said the three hikers yelled up at them asking what they should do.

“Make some noise,” Krivdich and his wife yelled. “Make some noise!”

At that time the grizzly starts sprinting (or whatever it’s called when a grizzly bear moves fast).

“Oh shit,” Krivdich said in the video (of course he kept the camera rolling). His wife, meanwhile yelled: “Get off the trail!”

“But just then, the griz made a bluff charge and we saw people booking it like we’ve never ever seen before in our lives,” Krivdich told the TV station.

Then you hear a lot of screaming from both groups of hikers and, in the background, some laughing.

“They shouldn’t run,” Krivdich’s wife said.  Then she yelled: “Don’t run, don’t run!” as the hikers are moving at a pretty impressive clip.

“Don’t run dudes,” Krivdich yelled. But then he started laughing when he saw how quickly they were running.

“Look at ‘em. Ha ha ha ha ha,” he laughed.

To be fair, the bear didn’t show any interest in pursuing those hikers and it was a really nervous situation so it’s not as though he was cheering on the grizzly like he was watching a gladiator fight in Ancient Rome.

“Thank goodness that it all went well afterwards,” he said. “Other than that it was a beautiful day for a hike down to Hidden Lake.”

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Humans Can Eat More Hot Dogs Than Grizzly Bears In Hot Dog Eating Contest

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Good news. Science has just answered another one of life’s most pressing mysteries.

The age-old question of whether a human or a grizzly can eat more hot dogs in a hot dog eating contest has been answered.

Turns out, a person can win.

No word if Dr. James Smoliga, a veterinarian and an exercise scientist, will win a Nobel Peace Prize for figuring this out, but he should.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Smoliga had some spare time on his hands (because of the pandemic) and began to study the results of the annual Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, which has been held every July 4 over the last 39 years.

He found out that over 10 minutes, the world champion hot dog eater could down 7.5 hot dogs per minute.

A grizzly bear, on the other hand, could eat eight per minute but only for about six minutes.

Grizzlies don’t have the staying power, it turns out, to eat hot dogs — competitively — for the full 10 minutes.

“It’s a great paper,” Dr. Michael Joyner, a physician at the Mayo Clinic, told tbe newspaper.

Not all scientists are convinced, however, that the results are conclusive.

Annelies De Cuyper, an animal nutritionist at Ghent University in Belgium, said “…consumption numbers from wild animals come from studying their normal behavior, whereas human eating records are an example of abnormal eating patterns.”

“If you put them all together in a contest, I don’t know who would win,” she said.

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Man Mauled By Grizzly Bear Upset Grizzly Bear Is Still Alive

in News/Grizzly Bear Attacks
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His reaction is understandable. After all, he said, the grizzly tried to rip his shoulder off.

Shanun Rammel, who was mauled by a grizzly last month, isn’t happy Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) officials haven’t killed that bear yet.

It doesn’t appear to be the agency’s fault, however. It’s just that the grizzly has completely disappeared — like a ghost.

As you may recall, Rammel, the father of 10 who runs a firewood business, got a tip from a neighbor that a grizzly might be near his home. 

Like a teenager in a slasher movie (or Geico commercial), he decided to check an abandoned shed near his property. When Rammel opened the door, all hell broke loose.

The startled bear did what startled bears do, which is never a good thing if you’re next to that bear.

Now, it’s not as though Montana’s FWP hasn’t been doing anything.

According to Montana TV station KRTV, the agency had been searching for the bear for 12 straight days using helicopters, fixed-wing planes, infrared cameras, and ground patrols but came up empty.

So they discontinued the search.

That didn’t sit well with Rammel. He thinks the offending grizzly is still in his area.

“We’ve got tracks of the grizzly right next to the ponds,” Rammel told the TV station. “And my neighbors have got pictures.”

To be fair, Rammel isn’t recommending FWP carpet-bomb the entire state of Montana, he just thinks it could do more.

The agency, instead of continuing the search for the bear, put up an electric fence around Rammel’s property — something that he’s not a big fan of.

Remember, Rammel has 10 children. Many of whom, he says, don’t understand what an electric fence is.

“I have a three-year-old, a five-year-old, and a six-year-old that don’t have a clue what it is,” Rammel’s wife Jamie said. “They say it shocks really hard, so I worry.”

In the meantime, if you’d like to help the Rammel family, a GoFundMe page has been set up here.

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Badass Mama Grizzly Bear Stands Up To Pack Of Wolves Harassing Her Cubs

in News/Grizzly Bear Attacks
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This mother grizzly bear and her 2 cubs of the year were harassed and chased off by some members of the Junction Butte pack! Luckily the bears got away safely and there were no fatalities. This is one of the most epic bear/wolf interactions I’ve ever seen. Epic day in Yellowstone, as usual. Taken by Taylor Bland 🐻🐺

Posted by Yellowstone Wolf Tracker on Thursday, 6 August 2020

Whenever there’s a bear story, chances are we’re on the bear’s side.

That’s because the bear usually seems to be the victim of something stupid that a human does.

Bears don’t like to be surprised.  But time and time again this summer, bears have reacted instinctively because humans surprised them.

Then, many times, humans kill the bears because of mistakes humans made.

As an example, somebody leaves food out at a campsite. A bear gets used to grazing on that food. If the behavior continues (and why wouldn’t it), then wildlife agencies put down the bear.

Thankfully, in this story, there are no stupid humans. 

Taylor Bland is a wildlife guide at Yellowstone Wolf Tracker. The company describes itself as a “wildlife adventure company.”

The company explains that their speciality is wolf and bear-watching.  Because all of their guides are experienced wildlife biologists, chances are they won’t be the subject of a bear mauling — which is a nice bonus for 2020.

Bland was out on a safari in Yellowstone where she filmed what she called “the most epic bear-wolf interaction [she’s] ever seen.”

It is magnificent footage and we can’t help root for the mama grizzly bear as the pack of wolves seem intent making one of her cubs their prey.

Thankfully, the grizzly won and her cubs were safe. As a nice bonus, nothing happened to the wolves either.

“Epic day in Yellowstone, as usual,” Bland writes.

This mother grizzly bear and her 2 cubs of the year were harassed and chased off by some members of the Junction Butte pack! Luckily the bears got away safely and there were no fatalities. This is one of the most epic bear/wolf interactions I’ve ever seen. Epic day in Yellowstone, as usual. Taken by Taylor Bland 🐻🐺

Posted by Yellowstone Wolf Tracker on Thursday, 6 August 2020

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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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Grizzly Euthanized After Killing Cattle

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A grizzly bear was euthanized after killing a cow on private land in Montana last week.

According to a news release from the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the adult male bear was captured shortly after it killed the cow on July 29. In consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the decision was made to euthanize the bear due to this depredation and past livestock kills in the area.

Relocating bears safely at this time of year is difficult due to many factors, including high bear densities, heavy recreation use and other land usage in nearby areas, the department said.

This is the second management removal of a grizzly bear this year within the demographic monitoring area of Montana’s portion of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. 

The first grizzly bear removed in this area in 2020 was captured and transferred to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone after gaining access to food at campgrounds in the Rainbow Point area.

Grizzly bears in the lower 48 states are currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Several grizzly bear recovery areas exist in or near Montana, including the Selkirk, Cabinet-Yaak, Northern Continental Divide, Bitterroot and Greater Yellowstone ecosystems.

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Unusual Good News In 2020: Videocamera Catches Grizzlies Not Mauling People But Playing Instead

in News/Grizzly Bear Attacks
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Grizzly Cam!Every year Fish and Game biologists place GPS collars on grizzly bears to learn about their reproduction, survival, and distribution across the ecosystem. A recently retrieved game camera shows a female grizzly as she emerged from her den in late-April with three cubs in tow.The antics of these three cubs playing together was too cute not to share. Watch as they play together and learn just how far they can push mom’s limits as she watches over them.https://idfg.idaho.gov/conservation/grizzly-bears

Idaho Fish and Game Upper Snake இடுகையிட்ட தேதி: வியாழன், 30 ஜூலை, 2020

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It’s kind of a weird twist for 2020 — actual good news.

Recently, most of our bear stories haven’t been that positive.

There was the story about the Choteau, Montana man who had his shoulder nearly ripped off.

Then there was the story of the hiker in the Shoshone National Forest who surprised a grizzly and got flattened in the process.

Then there’s the more humorous story of the trail runner who literally ran into a grizzly, bounced off the grizzly, became interlocked with the grizzly, and rolled down the trail with the grizzly.

Today, we have a story of some bears who are just cute.

As it turns out, the Idaho Fish and Game Department have something they call “Grizzly Cam.”

Every year, they say, biologists place GPS collars on grizzly bears to learn about their reproduction, survival, and distribution across the ecosystem.

A recently retrieved game camera shows a female grizzly as she emerged from her den in late-April with three cubs in tow.

“The antics of these three cubs playing together was too cute not to share,” the department said. “Watch as they play together and learn just how far they can push mom’s limits as she watches over them.”

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Grizzly Attack Victim Videos His Exposed Bones Immediately After Bear Encounter “Just In Case He Didn’t Survive”

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It’s one thing to get attacked by a grizzly bear but it’s another to get attacked by a grizzly bear and then start videoing yourself to document the visible bones following the encounter.

That’s what Shannun Rammel did following his grizzly bear experience up in Choteau, Montana.

After his story made headlines earlier this week, a Montana TV station went to the hospital to talk to him about the experience.

It was during the conversation that Rammel showed the reporter the video he made immediately after the attack.

“You can see my bones and my tendons,” he said to his wife who was acting as the cameraperson. “He ripped into me pretty good there.”

He told the reporter that it was important to document the experience in case he didn’t survive the attack.

Rammel was he was in shock after the attack but he appeared quite matter-of-fact during the video conversation with his wife only minutes after the experience.

“We have problems with grizzlies up by my house and I just got attacked by one,” he said looking into the camera.

Rammel had been alerted by a neighbor that a grizzly was in the area and when he went to check an abandoned shed, the attack was immediate.

As soon as he opened the door, the bear lunged.

“I looked to the left and all of a sudden I heard a roar and he came flying out of there right off the bat,” he said.

“I remember rolling to my belly and he jumped on my back and bit me with full force trying to rip off my shoulder,” Rammel said.

His wife told the TV station that when she saw her husband “getting thrown like a rag doll,” she came up with the idea of running over the bear in their truck.

“So when I punched the truck, he stopped and looked at me, dead straight in my eyes,” Jammie Rammel said. “He got off Shannun and turned around and got out of there,” she said.

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Man Searches For Grizzly, Man Finds Grizzly, Man Gets Attacked by Grizzly

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You could argue it was a successful day for a Choteau, Montana, man who went out searching for a grizzly bear after hearing reports it was near his farm.

After all, Shannun Rammel successfully found the bear. But the grizzly, like many grizzlies, didn’t like being surprised.

Before you condemn him, it’s not like Rammel spotted the bear, snuck up to it, put on a Halloween mask, and yelled “boo!”.

Instead, the man — who has nine children and lives in the area — got word from a farmer friend that there was a grizzly near his place.

He saw some tracks at a pond and wondered if the bear might have been attracted to something in an abandoned shed.

In a horror movie, this is where the slow motion starts and the spooky music begins to play.

Because just like in a horror movie, once Rammel opened the door, chaos erupted.

Except he didn’t run into a leather-clad deranged man with a chainsaw, he ran into the grizzly. But the result was the same.

“The bear had him and was throwing him like a rag doll,” his wife Jammie told the Great Falls Tribune. “My 12-year-old daughter was standing by me. She was watching her dad and screaming her head off – ‘There’s a bear! There’s a bear!'”

She said her first inclination was to take their truck and try to run over the grizzly – which would have been a great addition to the aforementioned horror movie.

But it didn’t get to that point as once the grizzly heard the vehicle fire up, it ran away.

Jammie drove toward the shed, mentioning that she was driving slowly because she “didn’t want to run [her] husband over.”

She took her husband to a local hospital where he underwent treatment for cuts and bites to his upper body.

“When his forearm was opened up you could actually look down and see the tendons and bone,” she told the newspaper.

As for the bear, just like Michael Myers, it disappeared.

The Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Department said it searched the greater area with a helicopter.

The agency said the bear was not located “which isn’t surprising as bears will often flee an area after an encounter such as this.”  

Agency officials said they will continue monitoring the situation and trapping efforts.

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Surprised Hiker Captures Video of Grizzly Barreling Down on Two Mountain Goats

in News/Grizzly Bear Attacks
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Grizzly bear at Glacier National Park.

GRIZZLY BEAR VIDEO: Thanks to Regina Louisa for sending in this video of grizzly bear on the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail in Glacier National Park on Saturday night.

NBC Montana இடுகையிட்ட தேதி: திங்கள், 27 ஜூலை, 2020

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We don’t blame the hiker for the wobbly video.

After all, if we were just feet away from a grizzly barreling down the mountainside in full pursuit of two mountain goats, our video might be wobbly too.

Especially because the grizzly had two paths it could take when the mountain goats split up.

One of the paths led to where the hiker stood. Luckily for the hiker, the grizzly chose to go after Mountain Goat B.

This is just another bear story in a year where bear stories seem to be popping up everywhere.

From the news that the number of grizzly attacks at this point in the season is a record-breaker  to the numerous accounts of bears being euthanized due to human encounters, to the recent court ruling that keep grizzly bears on the Endangered Species List, bears have been everywhere in the news.

Couple these events with the ever-present smartphone and if you want bears, you’ve got ’em.

And because of the technology, we get to see things like this video which came out of Glacier National Park in Montana and was sent to NBC Montana on Monday morning.

No word if the mountain goat survived. The hiker, for some reason, chose not to run after the grizzly to get the footage.

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Hiker Surprises Grizzly Bear; Grizzly Bear Flattens Hiker

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It’s starting to feel like if there’s not a bear attack to report on every day, something’s awry.

Thankfully, Wyoming skirmishes with bears this summer have not been fatal, including an incident reported Tuesday south of Cody.

The circumstances seem to follow a pattern. 

An individual was hiking alone on Deer Creek Pass in Shoshone National Forest and surprised a grizzly bear.

Not surprisingly, the grizzly did not take kindly to the surprise and charged the hiker.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department reported the grizzly knocked the hiker to the ground and took off.

“The victim sustained injuries to his chest and arm, but was able to bandage his wounds and hike out,” the department said.

The hiker was picked up by Game and Fish personnel and taken to the hospital.

Another bit of good news: because of the remote location and the low probability of finding the bear, no management action is planned.

That means the bear will live and hopefully hikers will not surprise it in the future.

“Game and Fish always has the safety of outdoor recreationists at the forefront of our minds,” said Dan Smith, Cody Regional Wildlife Supervisor. “We will continue to make management decisions in the best interest of public safety.”

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Jogger Bounces Off Grizzly While Running; Both Tumble Down Trail And Separate

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We haven’t seen a grizzly encounter like this so far this year.

The Glacier National Park Service reports that a jogger was running with two others on the Huckleberry Lookout Trail when she ran into a young grizzly — literally — on Saturday morning.

She not only collided into the bear, she then bounced off the bear and both of them went tumbling down the trail together.

“Once separated, the bear ran off,” the Park Service said. 

The woman received minor injuries to her head and arm but was able to walk back to the trail, meet back up with her friends, and then drove off to the hospital in Kalispell where she received some treatment.

It truly is unfortunate that there wasn’t a trail-cam that recorded the incident as it would seem difficult to accidentally run into a bear. Even young grizzlies are quite large.

Further, the site of a grizzly bear interlocked with a person tumbling down a trail would also be quite fascinating to see.

Then, once the tumbling ends, seeing the bear come-to and running away would be engaging to watch.

Of course, the speculation is fun because both the jogger and the bear ended up OK.

Regardless, the Park Service re-issued a press release Saturday reminding people that grizzly bears are dangerous — even the kind that bounce off joggers.

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Wyoming Grizzly Bear Donated to Natural History Museum

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

More and more often, residential developments in the Rocky Mountains are encroaching on the grizzly bear’s natural habitat. 

This close proximity means that human-bear interaction is happening much more frequently — and the outcome for the bears is often not good.

But sometimes, something good can come out of a bad situation.

Dusty Lasseter, the Bear Wise Coordinator for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in Cody, pointed as an example to an incident in May near Wapiti that resulted in the death of a 14-year-old bear – the third bear to be put down this spring.

“He had killed some chickens,” Lasseter said, “and when we caught him this spring he was in really poor physical condition.”

However, the bear’s death created an opportunity for researchers at the Draper Museum of Natural History at Cody’s Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Lasseter said.

“He was just a really good specimen, and the Draper had been asking us for some bears to use for educational purposes,” he said. “I thought this bear was a perfect candidate for that.”

And at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, technicians and museum staff will give the bear a new life – and purpose.

Nathan Doerr, curator of the Draper Museum, said the donation of the bear brings a unique educational opportunity.

“Draper staff and an incredible team of volunteers, we get together, and we dissect the specimen, we de-articulate it, and we clean the bones,” he said.

Then when the process is complete, which could take a year or more, Doerr said museum patrons will have multiple opportunities to learn from the bear’s articulated skeleton.

“Each bone is individually labeled, cataloged and stored for, whether it be scientific research, educational programming, or, in this case, exhibit,” he said.

But Doerr said that the ultimate goal for the experience is inspiration.

“We hope to ignite the curiosity in the visitors, get them to want to go out and explore more, and really start to dive into, if you will, the natural wonders of not just the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and not just the American West, but really their own backyards as well,” he said.

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Grizzly Knocks Woman Down in Yellowstone; Will Not Be Destroyed

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Missouri woman sustained a minor injury after encountering a bear in Yellowstone National Park on Monday.

According to a news release, the Columbia, Missouri woman, 37, encountered the female grizzly while hiking on the Fairy Falls Trail near Old Faithful.

The woman was hiking alone when she encountered two grizzlies at close range. The female bear knocked the woman down and she suffered a scratch on her thigh. The woman attempted to use her bear spray.

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

Following the incident, the Fairy Falls Trail was cleared of hikers. The trail and surrounding area have been temporarily closed.

“From the injured person’s statements, this appears to be a typical case of a mother grizzly bear protecting her offspring following a close-range encounter,” said Kerry Gunther, a park bear management biologist. “Because this bear was displaying natural protective behavior for its cub, no action will be taken against the bear. Several trails in the area will be closed to give the grizzly family group time to clear from the area.”  

This is the first incident of a bear injuring a visitor in Yellowstone this year. The last time a bear injured a visitor in the park was June 2019, when a black bear bit into an occupied tent and bruised a woman’s thigh.

This incident is under investigation.  

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Wyoming Game And Fish To Begin Bear Trapping

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4500

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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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Grizzly Captured, Euthanized In Wapiti

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4392

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A grizzly was bear captured and euthanized in Wapiti earlier this week after repeatedly breaking into a chicken coop.

This was the third time the bear has been captured by the Cody regional Game and Fish office. Dusty Lasseter, community coordinator for the Game and Fish Department’s “Bear Wise” program, explained that the first two times, it had been caught in a trap meant for another bear.

Lasseter said that the bear was in poor physical condition when captured on Tuesday, with officials noting that he had lost around 85 pounds and had a large wound on his back, possibly from another bear.

“We take in a lot of different factors when we decide to euthanize a bear,” Lasseter explained. “Obviously, we’re not going to tolerate a bear breaking into a building. But if a bear climbs into an apple tree, that’s a different story.”

After the bear was euthanized, its body was donated to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Lasseter noted that its beautiful winter coat and large size were among the reasons the bear was a great specimen for the museum.

Adult male bears have already come out of hibernation, but female bears and cubs are leaving hibernation around early May. Lasseter recommended for anyone living in bear country in Wyoming to secure their “attractants.”

“You have to be really diligent about deterring bears from your house,” he said. “If you’re out hiking, you need to be prepared with bear spray and possibly a firearm. Don’t go alone. We’re predators, too, so a large group of people will be intimidating for a bear.”

Another grizzly in the area was far luckier last week despite attacking a man.

This bear surprised a antler hunter and while mauling the individual accidentally bit-down on his holstered can of bear spray.

The attack stopped, the man was able to get back to his ATV where he was airlifted to a Billings hospital, and the Game and Fish department announced there would likely not be any repercussions for the animal.

“Due to the circumstances involved a surprise encounter and the inability to identify the individual bear, Game and Fish does not plan to take management action at this time, and no area closures have been implemented,” the department said.

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Grizzly Stops Attacking Cody Man After Accidentally Biting Can of Bear Spray

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4366

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Here’s a silver lining for you.

If you have to get mauled by a grizzly bear, try to maneuver your bear spray into his mouth so he bites down on it.

That’s what happened to Spencer Smith, the Cody man who was mauled last Friday in the Sunlight Basin area in northwestern Wyoming.

The Game and Fish Department on Tuesday announced they finished their investigation and concluded Smith’s survival might be due to a fortuitous chomp on the bear spray.

“During the encounter, the bear bit Smith’s bear spray holstered on his hip, rupturing the canister and presumably causing the bear to break off the attack,” the report reads.

Smith survived the attack and was airlifted to a Billings hospital on Friday where he was in stable condition with “severe” neck injuries.

Despite those injuries Smith was able to walk more than a mile from the attack area to his ATV, where he received assistance from Game and Fish Department personnel.

There’s good news for the bear as well. The adult male grizzly is unlikely to be put down.

“Due to the circumstances involved a surprise encounter and the inability to identify the individual bear, Game and Fish does not plan to take management action at this time, and no area closures have been implemented,” the statement reads.

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Cody Man Mauled By Grizzly Bear Sustains Severe Neck Injury

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A Cody man suffered a “severe” neck injury Friday morning after getting attacked by a grizzly bear in the East Painter Creek area of Park County.

The Park County Sheriff’s Office received an SOS signal activation at 10:47 a.m. alerting them to the bear attack.

The office reported that Spencer Smith of Cody was antler hunting in the area when encountering the bear.

Smith was attempting to walk to his four-wheeler when attacked.

A number of groups including the Park County Search and Rescue, Park County Sheriff’s Office, Cody Regional Wilderness and Response Team, Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Guardian Flight all took part in the search for Smith.

At 11:31 a.m., the four-wheeler was spotted. Shortly thereafter, Smith was found and loaded into the Guardian helicopter for transport to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Billings, Montana.

Smith is described as alert and in stable condition, according to the sheriff’s office.

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Grizzly bears visit Wyoming corn maze, family business works around “reality of recovery”

in News/wildlife
2285

By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

As Wyoming’s grizzly bear population continues to grow, the animals are increasingly moving into situations that put them in conflict with humans, according to a state Game and Fish Department official.

Dan Thompson, director of the department’s Large Carnivore Section, said his department is facing new challenges as it attempts to manage the bears to prevent conflicts with humans as the grizzlies spread into new areas.

“It’s a term I use: ‘The reality of recovery,’” he said. “We don’t want people to be punished for a recovered grizzly population. So those are the things we deal with now. We’re trying to do what’s right for bears and for people, obviously.”

Last year, some grizzly bears made themselves at home in a corn maze in Clark run every October by the Gallagher family.

Bridget Gallagher said a sow and her cubs entered the maze 2018, forcing the family to close the operation while the Game and Fish Department worked to remove the bears. The family then put an electric fence around the maze and Gallagher said it was roughly one week before the business could open again.

“The actually made a lot of sacrifices,” Thompson said. “Shutting down their money-making efforts to make sure people were safe and we had a lot of management work to try to get the bears out of there.”

This year, the fence went up before the maze opened, Gallagher said, and no bears have been seen.

“We decided we were going to be proactive and we were going to put up the fence before we even started,” she said.

Such experiences are growing more common as the area grizzly population increases and expands, Thompson said.

“We’ve seen the grizzly bear population increase in distribution more than 50 percent since the early 2000s,” he said. “As they move into newer areas … we’re having bears move into these situations where we don’t expect the public to make the sacrifices that people did within the core (recovery area).”

Grizzly Recovery Reflected in Upper Green Conflict

in Cat Urbigkit/News/Column/wildlife/Agriculture
Upper Green River Wyoming
2233

By Cat Urbigkit, Range Writing columnist for Cowboy State Daily

The Bridger-Teton National Forest’s announcement of its decision to reauthorize cattle grazing in the Upper Green River region 30 miles north of Pinedale was met with the predictable hysteria of anti-grazing activists who claim the plan “institutionalizes overgrazing” and “negligent livestock management” on national forest lands. These activists are pushing to rid public lands of livestock and cite conflicts between grizzly bears and cattle in the Upper Green to justify their position. It’s no matter that the truth undermines their outrageous claims.

For perspective, the Upper Green is the largest cattle grazing allotment in the National Forest system, used annually by area cattle ranchers for well over a century. With more than 80 percent of Sublette County in federal or state land, public lands livestock grazing is a vital component of the area’s character and ag economy. The county’s pastoral landscapes with majestic mountain views showcase the glorious mixture of land uses, from primitive recreation, hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing, to tourism and energy development. As the Forest Service notes: “In places where agriculture increasingly operates alongside a larger, non-agricultural economy and greater range of adjacent land uses, farms and ranches continue to be important. They contribute to local economic diversity, the scenery they provide can be part of the mix of amenities that attract and retain people and businesses across a range of industries, and they are often an important part of local culture and community vitality.”

The Bridger-Teton decision authorizes a maximum of 8,819 head of livestock annually (or 8,772 cow/calf pairs or yearlings, and 47 horses), from mid-June to mid-October. The agency found that there is more than enough forage for both livestock and wildlife, noting that even when overestimating forage utilization, the “combined elk and livestock forage use on lands suitable and capable for grazing was less than the amount of forage available.”

This is not a prescription for overgrazing, and the grazing association have been active land stewards. “The Upper Green River Cattle Association is proactive in the management of the Upper Green River allotment,” according to the Forest Service record of decision reauthorizing grazing, which noted that this is demonstrated by the “voluntary permittee monitoring and adjustments to grazing practices that have occurred on the allotments for over 30 years. The permittees regularly seek information and assistance from experts in research when a problem confronts them and have a documented willingness to try new management concepts and options or take on additional responsibility if it is to the benefit of the natural resources.”

One of the biggest problems has been grizzly bear depredation on cattle, and the Upper Green has been a hotspot for these conflicts – even though it is located more than 25 miles outside the original grizzly bear recovery zone. From 2010-2018, there were 527 confirmed conflicts, and 35 grizzly bears were removed from the allotments in response. 

Noting that the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear population has exceeded recovery goals and continues to expand into new areas, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) reports: “This means historical activities, which are comparable to the proposed action, have had little to no discernable effect on the population’s trend toward recovery, and we do not expect continuation of these activities to reverse the trend.”

Conflicts in the Upper Green have increased an average of 9% per year as the grizzly population density has increased, and FWS noted, “The conflict and management data indicate an expanding grizzly bear population with the action area concurrent with increasing occupancy and distribution of grizzly bears throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Because more bears are moving into areas with more human and livestock use, we expect even more conflicts and management actions will occur in the future.”

FWS issued a biological opinion for cattle grazing in the area, determining that it “will not jeopardize the continued existence of the grizzly bear.” The agency estimated that 72 grizzly bears could be removed from the Upper Green over the next 10 years, primarily due to management removal within the allotments, and that “will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of survival and recovery of grizzly bears.”

FWS also noted that the cattle permittees have tried a variety of practices over the years to reduce conflicts “with varying degrees of success,” including conducting several conflict reduction workshops, changing grazing rotations and systems, hiring 5-6 range riders and utilizing five rider camps on the allotments in addition to day help, and experimenting with herding techniques in attempt to deter predation.

The top human causes of grizzly bear deaths in the Yellowstone ecosystem are defense of life and property (20.2% of all mortalities 1997-2017), followed by hunting-related defense of life and property (18.2%). The grizzly bear mortalities in the Upper Green due to livestock depredations accounted for 7.28% of all grizzly mortalities in the ecosystem from 2010-2018. Despite daily human presence in an area with a high grizzly bear density, there have been no self-defense actions taken by range riders, although FWS notes that this will always be a potential.

FWS notes that although in the last two years the number of problem grizzlies removed from the Upper Green has increased, “these bears were chronic depredators over the last few years, removal of these bears may reduce the number of conflicts and removals in the next year or two.”

 “The number of removals has been cyclical: as the depredating individuals have been removed, the number of conflicts in the following years has temporarily decreased until other bears learn depredating behaviors and the scenario repeats itself,” FWS wrote. “We believe the increasing trend in conflicts and removals and the cyclical nature of these occurrences is due to an expanding grizzly bear population, which we expect will continue in and around the action area. As a result of an expanding bear population, we believe the action area will continue to experience a regular increase in the number of conflicts and management removals over the next 10 years of the grazing permit.”

Grizzly bear mortalities in the Upper Green due to conflicts with livestock are not the result of a failure to manage grizzlies or cattle. It’s a reality of the success of grizzly bear recovery. Those who advocate the non-lethal management of conflict bears are more interested in removing livestock grazing from public lands than providing for a landscape in which traditional uses can continue.

Cat Urbigkit is an author and rancher who lives on the range in Sublette County, Wyoming. Her column, Range Writing, appears weekly in Cowboy State Daily. To request reprint permission or syndication of this column, email rangewritesyndicate@icloud.com.

Get real: Dumping Disneyland for nature

in Cat Urbigkit/Column/Range Writing/wildlife
Range Writing elk in traffic
National Park visitors oblivious to the danger posed by a bull elk among them. (Photo credit: Cat Urbigkit)
2201

By Cat Urbigkit, Range Writing columnist for Cowboy State Daily

When instances of human-wildlife conflicts make the news, wildlife and land managers should feed reporters “thematic information or contextual data,” including information about the low likelihood of such conflict, as in “only the nth time in x-years,” in attempt to “help counteract the intense emotions” media consumers may feel that after learning of these conflicts, which “can lead to unfavorable opinions about the risks associated with spending time in nature and national parks.”

That’s the point of a paper published in the Wildlife Society Bulletin last year by three researchers at Colorado State University (CSU), which also noted that when a grizzly bear killed a person in Yellowstone National Park in 2015, the National Park Service failed to mention that there were only 38 reported cases of humans injured by bears in 36 years, while 104 million people visited the park, “and only 8 known fatalities in the park’s 145-year history.”

This kind of media framing  – especially those noting that “only” X number of people have been killed by a particular species – sets my teeth on edge. When journalists are reporting breaking news about a severe conflict (such as that involving the death of a human being by a wild animal), thematic reporting be damned. Each death is a loss of human life, a human’s story, and it is entirely appropriate to report in an episodic manner.

I would hate to be a family member reading an article about the attack on my loved one only to see that loss of life minimized by taking the thematic approach, which seems to be advanced in order to minimize the negative aspects of such human-wildlife encounters. It’s like when I have a dozen dead sheep in my field due to a wolf attack, and wolf advocates respond that livestock losses to wolves are less than one-half of one percent of the nation’s livestock inventory.

The CSU researchers wrote: “We conclude that it is reasonable to assume that if a reader with minimal experience in nature reacts with emotion to these episodic stories, those emotions are likely to be of the sort that has a negative effect on attitudes about spending time in nature, such as fear.”

Perhaps it’s past time for the public to learn that wild animals are not the Disneyesque characters they’ve been portrayed for decades. Perhaps scaring people into the reality that human-wildlife conflicts do exist across the nation is what’s needed. Perhaps people should once again learn some fear and respect for the wild animals that share the planet. Perhaps then we won’t have people trying to put wild bison calves into their cars so they don’t get cold, etc.

Besides, every year we hear news stories of “rare” attacks on humans by large carnivores. Since it’s every year, and multiple times every year, perhaps it’s not so rare in the modern age. 

I generally try to keep up with scientific literature involving human-wildlife conflicts, and a new paper in the journal Human-Wildlife Interactions by Michael Conover examined the number of human fatalities, injuries and illnesses in the United States due to wildlife, conservatively finding that more than 174,000 people were injured and 700 killed by conflicts with wild animals every year in the United States. This includes everything from wildlife-vehicle collisions, snakebites,  and zoonotic diseases, to attacks on humans by large predators. Conover said large predator attacks were “rare,” while also noting that “attacks by alligators, cougars, polar bears, grizzly bears, black bears, and coyotes have been increasing in recent decades in North America.”

According to the Conover paper, the “best estimate” of the annual number of people injured by grizzly bears in the United States is 0.8. But I contend that this number is grossly understated, and based on outdated information (plus the source cited in the paper referred only to grizzly bear attacks on humans in Alaska).

According to other current research, there were 62 attacks by grizzly bears on humans in the tri-state area of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, from 2000-2015, and seven fatalities during that time. There were an additional 51 attacks in Alaska, with another seven fatalities. This totals to 7.53 attacks annually for the United States – substantially higher than Conover’s estimate.

But back to the fear issue, Conover noted that rebounding populations of animals “which currently enjoy either complete or partial legal protection, certainly have less reason to fear humans than they did previously. Fear of humans have deterred predator attacks in the past but less so today.”

And the fear needs to flow both directions, according to Conover. “Today, many people no longer have a healthy fear of dangerous animals and engage in activities that put them in harm’s way. This naivety also contributes to the increasing frequency of people being injured by wildlife.”

Conover recommends: “Biologists can teach dangerous animals to fear humans and educate humans to recognize and avoid dangerous situations involving wildlife.”

With more than 80 percent of the American public residing in urban areas, I understand the importance of connecting people to nature. But rather than have the American public remain ignorant about the natural world and its wild animals, we need to work to educate the public of the reality of human-wildlife conflicts so that we can seek to minimize these conflicts.

Cat Urbigkit is an author and rancher who lives on the range in Sublette County, Wyoming. Her column, Range Writing, appears weekly in Cowboy State Daily. To request reprint permission or syndication of this column, email rangewritesyndicate@icloud.com.

Bear Attacks Increasing Worldwide

in Cat Urbigkit/Column/Range Writing/wildlife
1874

By Cat Urbigkit, Range Writing columnist for Cowboy State Daily

A French composer on a trip to Canada’s Northwest Territories to record the sounds of nature was attacked in his tent in the middle of the night and killed by a grizzly bear earlier this month. Such an unprovoked attack is rare, according to wildlife officials, although large carnivore attacks on humans are on the increase worldwide. Grizzly bear attacks on humans in Wyoming are part of that worldwide trend.

A new paper published in the journal Scientific Reports examines brown bear attacks on humans worldwide between 2000 and 2015. The report reinforces what we already suspected: attacks have increased significantly and are more frequent at high bear and low human population densities.

Researchers tallied 664 attacks on humans during the 15-year study period, including 183 in North America, 291 in Europe, and 190 in Russia, Iran and Turkey. There were more than 60 other attacks in Japan, Nepal, and southeastern Europe in which not enough information was available for their inclusion in the analysis.

The attack rate is about 40 attacks per year globally, with 11 attacks per year in North America, 18 per year in Europe, and 19 per year in the East (Russia, Iran and Turkey). About 14 percent of the attacks resulted in human fatalities, including 24 deaths in North America, 19 deaths in Europe, and 52 in the East (Russia, Iran, and Turkey). Of the brown bear attacks causing human injury in North America, 51 occurred in Alaska, 42 in British Columbia, 29 in Wyoming, 25 in Montana, and 18 in Alberta.

Globally, attack victims were almost exclusively adults, and most attacks occurred while the person was alone, during the summer, and in daylight hours. About half the attacks were categorized as encounters with females with cubs, while 20% were surprise or sudden encounters.

Bear awareness reminder against Palisades (Photo credit: Cat Urbigkit)

Interestingly, there were 15 attacks classified as “predatory” in which a predator attacks a human as prey: 9 in Russia, and 6 in North America. The bear attacks at the Soda Butte Campground just outside Yellowstone National Park in 2010 involved a sow grizzly killing a man camped alone in his tent, and injuring two other people in other campsites the same night, in what was deemed predatory attacks. The next summer, a female grizzly with cubs killed a man in Yellowstone National Park in what was then viewed as a defensive attack, but the same sow was linked to the death of a second man a month later in which the man’s body had been partially consumed.

Romania

Some Greater Yellowstone bear advocates point to Romania as an example of bear-human coexistence, noting that Romania is roughly the same size as the Yellowstone region, but hosts a bear population 10 times more numerous. Not surprisingly then, when it comes to brown bear attacks on humans, that almost half of Europe’s total number of attacks happen in one country: Romania. It’s worth a quick history lesson.

Beginning in the mid-1960s, communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu worked to rid the Romanian countryside of its human residents by “collectivizing” farms and razing entire villages, forcing residents into “state-controlled urban hives,” as David Quammen wrote in The Atlantic more than a decade ago.

Under Ceausescu’s leadership, brown bears thrived. For decades, Romanian gamekeepers tended to hundreds (if not thousands) of feeding stations for bears, keeping bears numerous and fat so that the dictator and his party elite could have trophies to shoot from the comfort of nearby blinds – all the while the few remaining rural residents were prohibited from having guns.

After Ceausescu was deposed and executed in 1989, hunting of brown bears was opened to rich foreigners willing to pay tens of thousands for a trophy, but that lasted only a few years. The hunting of any large carnivores in Romania was halted in 2016, with few exceptions. More than 40 bear attacks on humans were recorded in Romania in 2017, and three people have already died this year due to bear attacks. Half of the Romanian attacks in the 15-year study involved bears attacking adults who were working outside; shepherds tending flocks, drovers with their cattle, and farmers working the landscape.

Self-defense tools are rather limited since gun ownership is extremely restricted in Romania, and although it’s legal to carry bear spray, it is not a common practice. In many European countries, pepper spray is illegal or its use is tightly regulated.

The researchers found at a global scale, bear attacks are more frequent in regions where the human density is lower and bear densities higher, and that attacks are also more frequent where recreational activities in bear areas are more common. In Europe, that might be people hiking or gathering berries, but in Wyoming, it tends to be hunters seeking large game.

Legal protection has resulted in recovery and expansion of brown bear populations worldwide, with more than 200,000 brown bears now in existence. As grizzly populations continue to expand their range, it’s important for recreationalists in shared territory to be ever-mindful of grizzly presence.

Bear Attack Sign

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recommends that if you surprise a grizzly bear at close range, drop a nonfood item (like a hat or bandanna) on the ground and slowly back away. Speak softly, but avoid eye contact, and never run from a bear. If the bear charges, remain standing. Carry bear spray and be ready to use it. If a bear makes contact with you, drop to the ground and play dead.

That’s what we’ve been trained to do in grizzly country when it comes to surprise or defensive encounters.

But a predatory bear is a different beast, and requires the opposite tactic. If a grizzly bear approaches a human in a persistent manner, with head up and ears erect, behaving in a curious or predatory manner, you need to be aggressive and fight back.

Predatory bears do not give warning signals or use threat displays or bluff charges to attempt to scare you away, as a defensive bear will, according to the Wyoming Game & Fish Department. A predatory bear will demonstrate keen interest in a person, often quietly and intently approaching, eyes locked on its target. Predatory attacks end only when the bear is overpowered, scared away, injured, killed, or kills you. If a bear attacks a person at night in a tent, fight as hard and loudly as you possibly can. 

Remember the general rule: Play dead for a defensive attack, but fight for your life in a predatory attack. The fact that predatory attacks on humans are rare is of little comfort when confronted with a predatory animal.

For more in what to do in a bear encounter, read this from the Wyoming Game & Fish Department’s recommendations.

Cat Urbigkit is an author and rancher who lives on the range in Sublette County, Wyoming. Her column, Range Writing, appears weekly in Cowboy State Daily.

Conflict Prevention Takes A Genius

in Cat Urbigkit/Column/Range Writing/wildlife
Be bear aware
1715

By Cat Urbigkit, Range Writing columnist for Cowboy State Daily

Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat and presidential hopeful known for his animal advocacy and veganism.

John Barrasso, a conservative Republican from Wyoming who serves in a top leadership position for Senate Republicans, is known for his support of animal agriculture and our nation’s energy industry.

What do they have in common? Both have an interest in reducing human-predator conflicts. Barrasso is the primary sponsor of the bill, but Booker joined together with Tom Carper (D-Delaware), and Kevin Cramer (R-ND), to cosponsor Senate Bill 2194, Promoting Resourceful and Effective Deterrents Against Threats Or Risks involving Species (PREDATORS) Act. If enacted, the bill will amend the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act to establish the Theodore Roosevelt Genius Prize for reducing human-predator conflict.

Last week the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee heard testimony about the possibility of providing a financial incentive for the development of non-lethal, innovative technologies that reduce conflict between human and wildlife predators.

While human fatalities caused by grizzly bears are a concern to Barrasso’s constituents, the committee also heard testimony about shark attacks, as well as conflicts involving mountain lions and alligators. Brad Hovinga of the Wyoming Game & Fish Department provided testimony, as did Animal Planet’s Extinct or Alive host Forrest Galante, and Dr. Nick Whitney of the New England Aquarium.

Hovinga told the committee: “Wildlife agencies use a variety of innovative, non-lethal technologies to aid in reducing conflicts. These technologies include the use of chalk and pepper balls, weapon-fired beanbags, a variety of pyrotechnics and unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs. Wyoming recently trained personnel in the use of conducted electrical weapons, commonly known as tasers, for use as an aversion tool for wildlife.”

Hovinga talked about the both the importance and limitations of pepper spray, and the need for innovation in improving conducting electrical devices for use as both an aversive conditioning tool and a temporary immobilization tool.

“Improvements in unmanned aerial vehicles, or drone technology, that allow for the deployment of aversive conditioning tools would greatly improve our ability to keep people safe and influence the behavior of habituated or aggressive wildlife. Developments in FLIR and thermal camera technology for the use with UAVs would significantly increase human safety when assessing dangerous situations.” Hovinga said. “Lastly, long-range acoustic sound devices, or sound cannons, are devices that directionally deliver sound over long distances. The potential for development of long-range acoustic deterrents for wildlife management exists. Work to develop an appropriate aversive conditioning tool for addressing wildlife conflicts would be greatly beneficial.”

One difference I noted between both the senators speaking during the hearing, and the witnesses giving testimony, was perspectives on encroachment – whether humans are encroaching on animals, or animals are encroaching on humans. While some conflicts occur when predators in Wyoming come into urban areas seeking prey (such as mountain lions pursuing deer in urban developments), Delaware Senator Carper noted that human-predator interactions are increasingly common as more people recreate “in wildlife habitat.” Carper said “as humans continue to encroach upon wildlife habitat and compete with predators for the same space and the same natural resources, our relationships with these animals can become, in some cases, adversarial.”

Some committee members emphasized the need to address habitat loss and protect predators, while others expressed the need for more scientific research to understand changes in animal behavior due to climate change, and pressed for public education about wildlife species.

Near the close of the hearing, Barrasso pointedly asked Hovinga: “since the goal of the Genius Prize we are considering is to protect both predators and humans, regarding predators, the key to protecting their lives involves preventing conflicts with humans in the first place. Can you explain why, from your years and history and knowledge, after a conflict with humans occurs, it may be necessary to euthanize some of these predators?”

Hovinga’s reply reflected the reality involved when large predators come into conflict with humans. He said: “That is an unfortunate reality sometimes with wildlife management and wildlife behavior, that we have to realize. With a lot of wildlife, bears specifically and other large carnivores, those behaviors that end up becoming a part of an animal’s everyday behavior, that becomes dangerous toward humans, those are learned behaviors. Those are typically learned through successes over time. It usually revolves around those successes in obtaining food.”

Hovinga gave an example of a black bear that learned when it approached people, the people would drop their backpacks and run away, allowing the bear to receive a food reward from the backpacks. Over time, the bear repeated the action, and the more aggressive the bear became, the higher the probability the person would drop the backpack and run away. He added, “Fortunately, we were able to intervene in that situation, prior to that becoming dangerous and actually somebody becoming injured.”

He continued: “Those learned behaviors are very, very difficult for animals to unlearn. They typically don’t unlearn them. It is irresponsible for us as a wildlife management agency to allow animals to remain on the landscape that engage in behavior that is dangerous toward people. Unfortunately, sometimes those animals need to be removed from the population. The populations are nearly always doing well enough that those removals are not significant in the scheme of the population management, but certainly, a requirement to keep people safe.”

This is an issue all state wildlife managers have to deal with and must justify to the public when wild predators are killed to protect human safety. Listening to the testimony before the committee, it became evident that to some, living with wild predators is more of an idea than a reality. It’s a reality for wildlife manager Hovinga, and to a majority of Barrasso’s constituents. 

As it should, the committee hearing provided a forum for a variety of views on a diversity of predator-human interaction issues. That Democrats from densely populated areas would have differing views than Republicans from sparsely populated areas is to be expected. That they are talking and sharing their experiences for a wider audience is important.

Both Barrasso and Hovinga represented Wyoming well.

Cat Urbigkit is an author and rancher who lives on the range in Sublette County, Wyoming. Her column, Range Writing, appears weekly in Cowboy State Daily.

Range Writing: Endangering Success

in Cat Urbigkit/Column/Range Writing
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By Cat Urbigkit, Range Writing columnist

The grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem achieved biological recovery goals nearly two decades ago, but the animals remain under federal protection – after more than 40 years of such protection.

This threatened-species success story is due to the extraordinary efforts and tolerance of the human communities that share the landscape with the great bear in this region, including affected individuals, businesses and local governments, federal and state bear managers, and local conservation organizations. No credit should go to groups whose only action is to file lawsuits that prolong federal protection for wild animal populations that are no longer in jeopardy. One such group has its Trump Lawsuit Tracker (currently at “122 and counting”) displayed prominently on the homepage of its website.

When a federal judge reinstated federal protection for the Yellowstone-region’s grizzly bear population of at least 700 bears last fall, the judge ruled that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) had “erred in delisting the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear without further consideration of the impact on other members of the lower-48 grizzly designation.”

Federal officials had argued that delisting the Yellowstone region’s grizzly bear population would leave any other grizzly bears located in the lower 48 states with full protection as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. But the court ruled that argument wasn’t enough “because decreased protections in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem necessarily translate to decreased chances for interbreeding” with grizzlies in other populations such as the 1,000-bear Northern Continental Divide population in north-central Montana. The court faulted FWS for its lack of recognition that the long-term health of the grizzly population depends on the introduction of new genetic material (as in genetic interchange between grizzly populations).

While the Yellowstone grizzly decision makes its way through the appeals process, bear advocates continue to pretend that this grizzly bear population is in jeopardy. It’s not.

From the original goal of 15 breeding female grizzlies in a 9,200-square mile recovery zone, the population has increased to at least 58 sows with cubs occupying more than 25,000 square miles. Scientists tell us that the ecosystem has reached its carrying capacity for the big bruins – more than 60 percent of occupied grizzly bear range occurs outside the original bear recovery zone, in a more human-dominated landscape.

We’ve learned to coexist with grizzlies, but it’s a somewhat uneasy coexistence. With grizzly bears under federal protection for four decades, they no longer have a fear of humans. Thanks to bear-jams in our national parks, some grizzlies become habituated to the presence of humans, and human-habituated grizzlies can be a problem when those bears are located outside the national parks. 

It’s no longer unusual to have grizzlies show up in western Wyoming communities like Dubois, Cody, and Thermopolis. Farmers encounter grizzlies in their corn and bean fields miles from mountain ranges; campers no longer use soft-sided tents; skiers now carry bear spray; hikers, fishermen, hunters, and picnickers no longer use traditional recreational areas because of the risk of encountering grizzly bears – far outside of the grizzly bear recovery zone.

We have more bear-human conflicts in the ecosystem because we have more bears in areas with humans. We have more livestock conflicts because we have more bears sharing the range with livestock. It’s not because of a human failure to adjust to the presence of bears; it’s because we all share the same range. And lest anyone forget, the grizzly bear is a top-of-the-food-chain predator. People are injured in conflicts with grizzlies every year. Some shoot and kill grizzlies in self-defense. Beloved human beings have been killed in tragic encounters with grizzly bears.

The Endangered Species Act is meant to serve as a safety net to ensure the survival of species teetering on the brink of extinction – a worthy goal endorsed by most Americans. By insisting on continued protection of recovered animal populations, animal advocates wield the ESA as a weapon to hinder management of recovered species, and to limit human activities for which they disapprove.

The FWS’s job is to protect threatened and endangered species. It is not the agency’s job to push for ever-higher populations of recovered species as some bear advocates desire. That would be a waste of limited federal resources that should be freed for use with species that are truly threatened or endangered. To insist on continued federal protection for animals that are no longer threatened only succeeds in eroding support for the Endangered Species Act.

Cat Urbigkit is the author of the book “Return of the Grizzly: Sharing the Range with Yellowstone’s Top Predator.” Her column, Range Writing, appears weekly in Cowboy State Daily.

Wyoming’s 65th Legislature: General Session Review

in News/Health care/Taxes/Education/Agriculture/Criminal justice
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It’s all over for this year. Check out our bitesized rundown of what passed and what failed in the 65th Wyoming Legislature’s General Session. Stay tuned this weekend for more analysis on the session highs and lows with our Robert Geha.

Thanks for watching and be sure to follow Cowboy State Daily for our expanded statewide coverage of Wyoming news coming to your feed in the days ahead.

Coalition to sue over state’s new grizzly hunt law

in News/Recreation
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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A coalition of environmental groups plans to sue the state over a new law giving it the authority to conduct grizzly bear hunts.

The groups, including the Sierra Club, filed a notice this week with the state Game and Fish Department of their intent to sue over the statue, which was signed into law about a week ago by Gov. Mark Gordon.

The groups, in a news release, said the law is contrary to a federal judge’s ruling last year that said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service erred by removing grizzlies from the endangered species list and giving management of grizzly bears to the state.

But backers of the law, as well as the law itself, maintain that federal laws such as the Endangered Species Act require cooperation between federal and state governments.

Senate File 93, signed into law by Gordon on Feb. 15, was the Legislature’s response to a federal judge’s ruling in September that halted a hunting season on grizzlies.

The hunting season was scheduled after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had ruled recovery goals for grizzlies in Wyoming had been met and the animals could be removed from the endangered species list.The Fish and Wildlife Service is appealing the judge’s decision.

SF 93 would give the Game and Fish Department the right to declare a hunting season for grizzlies if it determined such a hunt would be beneficial to the state’s residents.

The coalition, which also includes the Center for Biological Diversity and Wyoming Wildlife Advocates, said the new law violates the Endangered Species Act and Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which gives federal law primacy over state law.

“This state law directly and unlawfully conflicts with the clear mandate of the federal Endangered Species Act that grizzly bears not be shot by trophy hunters seeking their heads and hides for bragging rights,” said Nichola Arrivo, a staff attorney with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), another member of the coalition.

But the law’s backers maintain the Endangered Species Act requires federal officials to work cooperatively with states in managing endangered species, so the law is valid.

The law itself raises the same point.

“In enacting the Endangered Species Act, the United States Congress requires the United States secretary of the interior to cooperate to the maximum extent practicable with the states in conserving and managing any endangered or threatened species,” it said.

Jim Allen, an outfitter in Fremont County who served in the Legislature from 2015 through 2018, said if nothing else, the legislation would show the state’s intent that federal laws be administered in accordance with laws in effect in the state.

“What (bill sponsor) Sen. (Wyatt) Agar’s (R-Thermopolis) bill does is just one more statement by the state that can’t be ignored by the (federal) agencies,” Allen said. “State and county use plans are statements the federal government is supposed to abide by.”

While the federal government may not recognize the law’s validity, it will still send a message, Allen said.

“Nothing else that we’ve tried has worked to gain (grizzly bear) management, so why not pass a bill?” he said. “It can’t hurt.”

Wyoming Legislature: Where they are

in News
Wyoming Legislature bill analysis where they are
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Here is the status of some bills making their way through the Legislature’s general session:

HB 14 — Creating the “Mountain Daylight Savings Time” zone for Wyoming. Defeated in Senate “Committee of the Whole.”

HB 38 — Raising legislative expense reimbursements from $109 per day to $149. Vetoed by Gov. Mark Gordon.

HB 52 — Giving preference to Wyoming-made products in furnishing state buildings. Awaiting governor’s signature.

HB 66 — Setting a statewide lodging tax of 5 percent. Approved in second reading in Senate.

HB 71 — Raising the penalty for violating equal pay rules to $500 per day. Signed into law by Gov. Mark Gordon.

HB 140 — Imposing a 48-hour waiting period to perform abortions. No action will be taken in Senate committee before the end of session.

HB 145 — Eliminating the death penalty. Killed in Senate “Committee of the Whole.”

HB 192 — Requiring photo ID to vote. Killed on third reading in House.

HB 220 — Imposing an income tax on out-of-state companies with business locations in Wyoming. Died without review in Senate Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee.

HB 251 — Authorizing Wyoming to sue the state of Washington over it refusal to allow the construction of a coal port. Approved in second reading in Senate.

HJ 1 — Asking the federal government to delist the grizzly bear. Signed by Gov. Mark Gordon.

SF 46 — Limiting the length of a prescription of opioids to 14 days. Approved in second reading in House.SF 57 — Setting a deadline for the release of public documents by government agencies. Awaiting report of “joint conference committee” to resolve Senate, House differences.

SF 119 — Making all expenditures by the state auditor’s office public and available for review. Died without review in House Appropriations Committee.

SF 129 — Repealing requirements for reports from the state Department of Education. Awaiting governor’s signature.

SF 148 — Allowing the state to seize and operate federal facilities — including national parks — under certain conditions. Killed in House Minerals Committee.

SF 149 — Creating a “Capitol Complex” around the state Capitol and giving the state building commission authority for planning in the area. Approved in first reading in the House.

SF 160 — Requiring changes in voter party affiliation to take place two weeks before absentee ballots are distributed. Died without review by House Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee.

SJ 3 — Declaring Dec. 10, 2019, as Wyoming Women’s Suffrage Day. Signed into law by governor.

Wyoming Legislature: Where they are

in News/Taxes/Education
Wyoming Legislature bill analysis where they are
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By Cowboy State Daily

Here is a look at the status of some of the bills being considered by Wyoming’s Legislature during its general session:

  • HB 14 — Creating the “Mountain Daylight Savings Time” zone for Wyoming. Defeated in Senate “Committee of the Whole.”
  • HB 38 — Raising legislative expense reimbursements from $109 per day to $149. Awaiting governor’s signature.
  • HB 52 — Giving preference to Wyoming-made products in furnishing state buildings. Awaiting governor’s signature.
  • HB 66 — Setting a statewide lodging tax of 5 percent. Introduced in Senate, referred to Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee.
  • HB 71 — Raising the penalty for violating equal pay rules to $500 per day. Awaiting governor’s signature.
  • HB 140 — Imposing a 48-hour waiting period to perform abortions. No action will be taken in Senate committee before the end of session.
  • HB 145 — Eliminating the death penalty. Killed in Senate “Committee of the Whole.”
  • HB 192 — Requiring photo ID to vote. Killed on third reading in House.
  • HB 220 — Imposing an income tax on out-of-state companies with business locations in Wyoming. Introduced in Senate, referred to Senate Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Comittee.
  • HB 251 — Authorizing Wyoming to sue the state of Washington over it refusal to allow the construction of a coal port. Introduced in Senate, referred to Senate Minerals Committee.
  • HJ 1 — Asking the federal government to delist the grizzly bear. Awaiting governor’s signature.
  • SF 46 — Limiting the length of a prescription of opioids to 14 days. Introduced by House, referred to Labor, Health and Social Services Committee.
  • SF 57 — Setting a deadline for the release of public documents by government agencies. Approved on second reading in House.
  • SF 119 — Making all expenditures by the state auditor’s office public and available for review. Introduced in House, referred to House Appropriations Committee.
  • SF 129 — Repealing requirements for reports from the state Department of Education. Joint conference committee appointed to resolve House and Senate differences.
  • SF 148 — Allowing the state to seize and operate federal facilities — including national parks — under certain conditions. Killed in House Minerals Committee.
  • SF 149 — Creating a “Capitol Complex” around the state Capitol and giving the state building commission authority for planning in the area. Approved by House Rules Committee.
  • SF 160 — Requiring changes in voter party affiliation to take place two weeks before absentee ballots are distributed. Introduced in House, referred to House Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee.
  • SJ 3 — Declaring Dec. 10, 2019, as Wyoming Women’s Suffrage Day. Signed into law by governor.

In Brief: Bill calling for grizzly bear hunting clears House committee

in News
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By Cowboy State Daily

A bill that would authorize the state Department of Game and Fish to set a grizzly hunting season cleared a House committee Wednesday.

The House Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee voted to send SF 93 to the full House for debate.

The bill is a response to a federal judge’s decision in September to block a grizzly bear hunt. The hunt was set by the Game and Fish Department after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared the grizzly population in and around Yellowstone National Park to have recovered sufficiently to be removed from the Endangered Species List. The federal judge ruled that action was improper. The Fish and Wildlife Service, joined by Wyoming and other groups, is appealing that decision.

SF 93 would allow the Game and Fish Department to set up a grizzly hunt if it determines such a hunt to be beneficial to Wyoming’s wildlife and necessary to protect the safety of its citizens and workers.

The bill notes that federal laws such as the Endangered Species Act are to be administered by the federal government in cooperation with state agencies and adds that the judge’s ruling prevents that from happening.

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