By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A male grizzly bear has likely killed three cubs of a popular female grizzly in Grand Teton National Park, park officials said this week.
Grizzly 793, also known as “Blondie,” was last seen with her three cubs on Friday night, according to Jack Bayles, who runs the “Team 399” website.
On Saturday morning, a bear thought to be Blondie was seen moving rapidly around an area in the park.
“The thought is that Blondie lost her cubs to a male bear on Friday night or early Saturday morning and was looking for them,” Bayles said on social media this week.
Bayles told one of his social media followers that a male bear was likely cause of the cubs’ demise.
“It is the single leading cause of baby bears,” Bayles said.
Males can kill young animals for a variety of reasons, including having the ability to mate with a mother who is no longer nursing, a need for food or a lack of resources for the entire den.
Initially, Bayles was unsure if the lone grizzly was Blondie or her daughter, grizzly 1063, also known as “Fritter,” but said park officials confirmed Fritter still had her collar, so the solo grizzly must have been Blondie.
According to Bayles, Blondie is around 13 years old, meaning she has another 5 to 10 years of life, although grizzly 399 is 26 years old. She has had several cubs throughout her lifetime so far.
Neither Bayles nor Grand Teton spokesman Jeremy Barnum returned Cowboy State Daily’s requests for comment on Thursday.
While not quite as famous as her fellow Grand Teton resident grizzly 399, Blondie is one of the most famous bears in the park and is one of its most popular, if elusive, attractions.
In late May, a female grizzly bear and her mate attacked a 3-year-old bear, causing injuries severe enough that the National Park Service decided to euthanize the animal.
Utah photographer Julie Argyle said at the time that bear 815 and her male mate attacked the 3-year-old bear after the sub-adult wouldn’t leave an area.
“This is the first time I’ve heard of 815 being aggressive like this,” Argyle said. “But the situation is that it’s mating season, food sources are scarce and it’s her territory.”
She believed that the mother bear was attempting to frighten the bear away from the area, but when the male bear entered the altercation, things became deadly.
Wyoming Game and Fish Department large carnivore specialist Dan Thompson told Cowboy State Daily at the time that it is not uncommon for mother bears and their mates to attack their young.
“As the overall density of grizzly bears has increased within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, we see more instances of what we call ‘intraspecific strife’ such as this,” he said. “These natural occurrences are another indicator of density dependence that is exhibited when a population is at carrying capacity.”