Feb 12, 2016

Two dozen grizzly bears were captured in Park County last year

Of the 45 grizzly bears captured and relocated in Northwest Wyoming last year, most were in Park County.

Twenty-four grizzlies were caught in Park County, 16 in Sublette County, seven in Fremont County and two in Teton County, according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s 2015 report, “Grizzly Bear Management, Capture, Relocations, and Removals in Northwest Wyoming.”

Brian DeBolt, Wyoming Game and Fish Department large carnivore conflict coordinator in Lander, performs a BIA (bio impedance analysis or body fat composition) on a bear. Photo courtesy Wyoming Game and Fish
The majority of captures were lone grizzlies of all ages, but two family groups also were caught. That included a sow and two cubs that were caught snacking at the Cody landfill.

Of the two dozen grizzlies captured in Park County last year, 12 were relocated to Teton County while Park County received one bruin from Teton County, the report says.

Out of 242 documented conflicts last year, Game and Fish captured 28 black bears and relocated 18, said Brian DeBolt, Game and Fish large carnivore conflict coordinator in Lander. Ten were lethally removed.

Across the state, 17 grizzlies were put down in 2015. While the data he cited covers the entire state, the grizzly conflicts are concentrated in Northwest Wyoming, DeBolt said.

“In 2014, out of 164 documented grizzly bear conflicts, we captured 22 grizzly bears in 23 capture events and 14 were relocated,” DeBolt said. Eight were lethally removed.

Game and Fish relocates and removes black and grizzly bears as part of routine management operations. Capturing and relocating bears where conflicts occur is common throughout the world, according to Game and Fish.

“Many bears find a ‘niche’ somewhere and stay out of trouble. Relocation is an effective, non-lethal tool to prevent/mitigate conflicts with both black and grizzly bears,” DeBolt said.

Relocation of grizzlies reduces the chance of property damage, lessens the potential for bears to become food conditioned, allows bears to forage on natural foods, remain wary of people and provides a non-lethal option when and where it is appropriate, said Brian Nesvik, Game and Fish chief of the Wildlife Division.

Game and Fish staff prepare the report and submit it to the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Interim Committee.

In 2005, the Wyoming Legislature enacted House Bill 203, which created a grizzly bear relocation statute requiring the department to provide notification to the county sheriff of the county to which the grizzly bear is relocated within five days and shall issue a press release to the media and sheriff in the county where each grizzly bear is relocated, according to the report.

The full report is available at http://tinyurl.com/j88vorw.

COLLARED BEARS

All relocated independent grizzlies more than 2 years old were fitted with radio-tracking collars to monitor their movements after release, according to the report. Attempts to obtain locations on marked grizzly bears through aerial telemetry were made approximately every 10-14 days.

There are roughly 62 grizzly bears with active radio-collars in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) now, so it is difficult to document the number of problem bears returning to the scene of their problems, DeBolt said. Some bears return quickly to their capture location, exhibiting conflict behavior, and are captured again.

“Many bears find a ‘niche’ somewhere and stay out of trouble. Relocation is an effective, non-lethal tool to prevent/mitigate conflicts with both black and grizzly bears,” DeBolt said.

Grizzly bears are relocated in accordance with state and federal laws, regulations and policy. More information about how the Game and Fish manages grizzly bears is available at http://tinyurl.com/jjkhbp6.

EXPANSION AND EDUCATION
Long-term trends in the number of conflicts is likely a result of grizzly bears increasing in numbers and expanding into areas used by humans, on public and private property, including land used for livestock production, Debolt said.

As the ecosystem's grizzly population continues to grow and expand in distribution, bears encounter food sources such as livestock and livestock feed, garbage and pet food, resulting in increased property damage and threats to human safety.

Conflict prevention measures, such as attractant storage, deterrence and education are the highest priority for the Game and Fish Department. Through the Bear Wise program, Game and Fish employees continue to educate the public about how to proactively live and recreate in bear country to avoid conflicts. More information is available at http://tinyurl.com/zylqfzz.

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