grizzly bears

Debate Over De-listing Grizzlies Heats Up

Oct 16, 2015
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Cody area lawmakers want the federal government to take grizzly bears off the endangered species list. They say there are more bears than ever outside Yellowstone. But others say the numbers don’t matter, and that the grizzly should remain protected.

Many Cody area residents have advocated for grizzly delisting for years. But, talk about delisting intensified this summer, after a grizzly killed a hiker in Yellowstone.

Office of the Governor

People in Wyoming are passionate about wildlife. Just say the word “wolf” in mixed company and see what happens. And it’s the state’s long history of negotiating with the federal government over endangered species like the sage grouse and the grizzly that has prompted Governor Matt Mead this month to announce an initiative to reform the 42-year-old Endangered Species Act. I asked him, what made him decide now was the time for this.

National Digital Library of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service

Yellowstone officials trapped a grizzly bear sow and her cub near Yellowstone Lake, and say they will euthanize the adult if DNA proves she killed a man in the Park last week.

The body of 63 year old Lance Crosby was found near Elephant Back Loop trail near Yellowstone Lake Friday. Park officials say he often hiked in this area, alone, and without bear spray. Although his body had been partially eaten, Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk would not call the attack predatory.

Wenk said, “We have no way of knowing what the circumstances were around his death.”

Yellowstone’s grizzlies are unique in the world of bears. That’s according to a grizzly expert scheduled to speak in Jackson this week.

Yale wildlife biologist Dave Mattson spent 13 years in the field studying Yellowstone grizzlies. He says Yellowstone bears eat things like earthworms, pond weeds and pine seeds that no other grizzlies in the world do. And that’s not all.   

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Above-average temperatures mean grizzly bears have started to emerge from hibernation in Yellowstone National Park. Over the last five years grizzlies have tended to emerge during the first half of March, which puts Monday’s first sighting of activity 2-4 weeks sooner than usual.

Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash says that could be a problem for visitors who are more used to preparing for potential grizzly encounters in the warm summer months.

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The overall population of grizzly bears is now at around 1,000. That’s according to a biannual study from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team that has adopted a new method for estimating grizzly populations. Wildlife biologist Frank Van Manen says the higher numbers came as a surprise even to him.

“So far, relatively low conflicts, relatively low mortality, good reproduction.  We already had kind of a peak year last year. So we did not anticipate a lot of females with cubs this year. But we were pleasantly surprised.”

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.

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A study on the Yellowstone area’s grizzly bear population shows that the number of bears is steadily increasing and so far the animals have an adequate food supply.

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee is responsible for coordinating grizzly bear recovery efforts across agencies in the continental U.S. and Canada. The organization’s Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee submitted the report.

The U-S Fish and Wildlife Service wants Grizzly Bears taken off the Endangered Species list, but the agency's effort has been blunted by the courts. Matt Laslo reports from Washington on the battle over Wyoming's Grizzlies. 

MATT LASLO: In 1975 government officials worried the west could one day be grizzly-less. Using the Endangered Species Act the government became a great protector of the Bears that play a vital role in the region's ecosystem. But by 2007 the federal government recorded a massive rebound in the population, so they delisted Grizzly Bears. 

A new study shows that the decline in native cutthroat trout has had dramatic impacts on the migratory elk herds in the Greater Yellowstone Area. 

Lead Researcher Arthur Middleton and others were studying the decline of elk herds in the region, and they determined that grizzly bears were playing a greater role in those deaths than they realized. 

The illegal introduction of lake trout into Yellowstone Lake has harmed the cutthroat trout population. 

A lawsuit over a fatal bear mauling near
Yellowstone National Park is set to go to trial at the end of the
     The Powell Tribune  reported Friday that
federal Judge Nancy Freudenthal has scheduled the
trial to start Dec. 3 in Cheyenne.
     Erwin Evert of Park Ridge, Ill., was killed by a grizzly bear
that had been tranquilized by researchers in Shoshone National
     Evert's widow, Yolanda Evert, is suing the federal government
for $5 million. She claims that researchers let the bear go too

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