5. Jackson Hole Daily, “Wyoming Grizzly Captures on Record Pace This Year”, From NRDC IN the News

By Cory Hatch

I got this from the good folks at NRDC. This is from NRDC in the News.
Wyoming bear managers say so far this year they’ve captured a record number of grizzly bears due to conflicts, many of which involved livestock depredations.

The news comes after researchers reported a marginal whitebark pine seed crop for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department bear personnel have captured bears on 38 occasions as of Aug. 27, according to information gathered from weekly updates and press releases on the department’s website. Those captures occurred in Wyoming but outside Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks.

“We’ve had a record number of management captures,” said Mark Bruscino, bear management program supervisor for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Bruscino said some of those captures are bears that were caught two or three times.

Of the 38 captures, four bears were killed because they posed a threat to human safety. The rest were relocated to areas in occupied bear habitat away from human developments.

Grizzlies were captured nine times near Cody, nine times near Pinedale or the Upper Green River drainage, eight times near Dubois, four times near Jackson, two times near Clark and two times near Meeteetse.

Officials stress these numbers are preliminary. Records for four bear captures did not include locations, and there were some minor discrepancies between weekly updates and press releases. The department will release final numbers in December.

“One of the things that’s going on is the natural food resources aren’t great,” Bruscino said. “I don’t think you can characterize them as a complete failure.

“In Jackson, the berries are pretty good and the bears are using them, but it is not a good year for berries on the east side [of the Continental Divide],” he said. “It’s a much drier environment over here.”

Most of the bears were moved due to conflicts with livestock. Preliminary data from Game and Fish updates show roughly 100 cattle, sheep, llamas and horses have been killed in Wyoming outside the parks.

Most of the sheep depredations involved more than one animal killed during a single event. During one sheep conflict near Pinedale/Upper Green River Basin, 17 sheep were killed.

“We’ve moved a number of bears in relation to livestock depredation in the Pinedale, Union Pass, Dubois and Cody areas,” Bruscino said. “It’s probably more than normal, but I don’t think it’s a record number of bears in relation to livestock depredations.”

Bears are homing in on low-elevation areas right now, especially around Cody, and looking for food on private land, including lodges and ranches, Bruscino said.

“They’re eating bluegrass in people’s front yards,” he said. “Bears love it. For the good of the bear and for the good of the people, we just put them back in a more wild [location].”

Recently, bear managers removed two yearling grizzlies out of the Spring Gulch area near Jackson. At least one was frequenting a ranch.

“We’re trying to keep them alive,” Bruscino said. “They’ve been moved twice now since they were weaned from their mother. We have not heard from them, so presumably they’re off in the wild somewhere.”

The dead animal pit at the Park County Landfill in Clark has attracted two grizzly bears.

“We’re working with sanitation officials to ensure that we’re addressing the problem,” Bruscino said. The future of the landfill is uncertain, and Bruscino said officials are waiting for a final plan before deciding what to do to keep bears out long-term.

“It’s just one family group,” Bruscino said of the landfill situation. “It’s extremely poor bear habitat. We don’t anticipate large numbers of bears using the landfill.”

Wildlife managers in Wyoming have responded to one human fatality and two minor injuries this year. Erwin Frank Evert was killed in June on the Shoshone National Forest by a bear released just a few hours before by researchers.

A camper also was killed and partially eaten in Montana, just outside Yellowstone National Park, by a female grizzly

Earlier this summer, an angler was injured in the Union Pass area by a bear that, coincidentally, bit through the man’s can of bear spray. And, on Sept. 2, a bear swatted at a hunter in the Cody area, leaving two abrasions on the hunter’s lower left leg.

More human conflicts typically occur during the fall hunting season.

Conservation groups have pointed to a decline in whitebark pine as one of the reasons grizzlies are getting into trouble. Bark beetles have left large swaths of dead trees in the Rocky Mountains, and bears are forced to move to lower elevations to store up the fat and protein needed to survive the winter.


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