The offspring of a world-famous grizzly bear was trapped and euthanized in Wyoming after exhibiting “increasingly dangerous behavior” in close proximity to a residential area, according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD). The male bear was 2 years old and considered to ba a “subadult.” It had reportedly lost its fear of humans and was presenting a threat to residents of Sublette County, Wyoming who live on the edge of the Bridger-Teton National Forest.
“It’s really unfortunate,” WGFD Large Carnivore Supervisor Dan Thompson told Field & Stream. “We’d done a ton of work to secure attractants at people’s homes and tried to get ahead of the scenario, but because it was already exhibiting these behaviors and was taught these behaviors by its mother, it kept actively seeking out food from houses and residential areas to the point where it had some pretty significant run-ins with people.”
Grizzly bears are protected under the Endangered Species Act in the lower 48, but euthanizations like this one are authorized by the federal government when bears come into conflict with people. In a statement provided to Field & Stream, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) public affairs specialist Joe Szuszwalak said that this particular bear’s behavior “included an interaction wherein a resident attempted to haze the bear from their front porch with warning shots.” Despite the gunfire, the bear remained on the porch and showed no reaction.
This wasn’t the first time that the bear—tagged and marked as no. 1057—had come into conflict with humans. Since May of this year, wildlife managers with WGFD have recorded 13 conflicts involving the food-conditioned grizzly. “[The bear] was captured and lethally removed for the sake of human safety due to being highly food conditioned,” said WGFD Public Outreach Specialist Sara DiRienzo. “This is a bear that has learned, through prior food rewards, to associate people, human activities, human-use areas, or food or garbage storage receptacles as sources of anthropogenic foods—and continued bold behavior around residences.”
The sow grizzly that reared no.1057 is known as “Grizzly 399.” She’s raised several litters of cubs along the Oxbow Bend of the Snake River near Moran, Wyoming—a spot that is easily observed from a nearby highway. In the last few years, 399 and her cubs have extended their range to include areas outside of Grand Teton National Park, and biologists have worried that the bears would ultimately find themselves in conflict with people.
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“Despite all our work tracking 1057—our previous hazing efforts and aversive conditioning—it continued to actively pursue contained food associated with people at a time when there’s actually quite a bit of food on the forest,” Thompson said. “We knew people were going to be pissed off about us removing this bear even if it’s the right thing to do, but we have to be consistent. We have to do what’s right for the sake of human safety.”