bears

Hunting season has increased the likelihood of interaction between humans and bears, especially in the mountain ranges outside of Yellowstone National Park. Two grizzly bear attacks this month left one man dead and another injured.

Wyoming Game and Fish Large Carnivore Conflict Coordinator Brian DeBolt says bears have been moving south and east into the Wyoming Range and Big Horn Basin as their numbers have grown. Hunters are at greater risk during the season as they often go against bear safety precautions.

When John Simms moved to Jackson, he started a business giving tours of the Flag Ranch. After getting married, he started Jackson White Water Trips. In this story, John tells his daughter Morrison about an unexpected late night visit to their Jackson home.

Micah Schweizer

Ruth Michels lives in Cody, but she grew up in Laramie. Here, she remembers a childhood encounter with a black bear at Yellowstone National Park.

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A shortage of whitebark pine seeds could mean more human-bear interactions in western Wyoming this fall.


When whitebark pine seeds are plentiful, Yellowstone bears spend the fall gorging themselves on the fatty, protein-rich morsels, up in the high alpine. But not every year is good.


“It’s a boom-bust cycle, and there’s not always a high amount of pinecones available, so they just find other foods to eat,” says Wyoming Game and Fish Large Carnivore Supervisor Dan Thompson. 


A study by the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit shows that elk migrating to and from Yellowstone are raising fewer calves than in the past.

Report co-author Arthur Middleton says hot, dry weather has limited the amount of forage available, so fewer elk have been getting pregnant. Plus, he says wolves and bears are rebounding and killing more elk calves.

He says in contrast, non-migratory elk outside the park are doing well, because land is irrigated, and predators are scarce.

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The National Park Service and the Game and Fish Department changed regulations for hunting elk in Grand Teton National Park. Part of the reason for these changes is to avoid contact between hunters and grizzly bears.

Last year a hunter participating in the annual elk reduction program shot and killed a grizzly in the park. In 2011, a grizzly mauled a hunter. Both encounters involved bears protecting animal carcasses.

It’s Memorial Day Weekend, which means National Parks and forests in the state are gearing up for a flood of tourists. But in northwest Wyoming, the Game and Fish Department is urging visitors to be Bear aware while enjoying the outdoors.

Jackson Game and Fish Spokesman Mark Gocke says people should hike in groups, when possible, and make a lot of noise to alert wildlife of their presence. Gocke says some bears seem to ignore visitors, but Gocke warns visitors never to approach a bear, no matter how harmless it seems.

A bear expert says a study has found that people using bear spray during grizzly bear encounters are injured
far less often than people using firearms.
     University of Calgary's Steve Herrero says that 98 percent of those who used bear spray
walked away unharmed, and no people or bears died.
     He says 56 percent of those who used firearms were injured, and
61 percent of the bears died.
     The firearms study involved 269 incidents with 444 hunters. The
bear spray study had 72 incidents with 175 people, though some of