GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK — Two of the beloved, embattled grizzly bear cubs took the lead, pushing down through the still-snowy flank of Signal Mountain ahead of their famous mother, grizzly bear 399. 

The grizzlies — five, in all — poked through the timber at 8:42 a.m., ambling across Teton Park Road and proceeding down to the receded shoreline of Jackson Lake. They came through the trees less than 100 yards from where Tom Mangelsen expected. The 76-year-old Jackson Hole photographer has practice patterning the movements of the 26-year-old matriarch bruin of Grand Teton National Park, a bear he’s tracked since she started raising her litters roadside in 2006. He also knew where to head for the shot.

“They’ll go this way,” Mangelsen said. He flipped a U-turn in his Ford SUV, pointed toward Jackson Lake Dam, and eased to a stop where the grizzlies, framed by the Teton Range, padded down the snowy shoreline in view of a roadside pullout. 

Longtime Jackson Hole wildlife photographer Tom Mangelsen, who owns the Images of Nature gallery, lines up a shot of grizzly bear 399 and her four cubs. The veteran photographer has documented the famous grizzly sow for the past 16 years. (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

Mangelsen and a handful of fortuitous fellow photographers were silent, save for the clicking of camera shutters. But word spread quickly. 

Within a few minutes, a caravan of photographer-filled vehicles that had been staged nearby rolled into view. Soon there was a frenzy: scores of photographers and tourists jostling for a close look. 

Tyler Brasington, a Grand Teton bear management ranger who waited at the dam, had experience with “bear jams” here. He predicted the swelling crowd would next glimpse the grizzlies near “John’s Pond,” just above the dam. 

“They’ve come through there before,” Brasington said of the bears. “That’s a very difficult area to manage a jam, just because there’s no place for people to pull off.” 

Less than a minute later, the five grizzlies ascended from the lake, crossing the road exactly where the ranger predicted. 

“We can all stop right here,” Brasington told frantic photographers and grizzly-watching passersby. 

A few folks momentarily heeded the guidance. But most proceeded onward, following five grizzly bears. For the next hour the crowd kept growing, cameras clicking and memories amassing as the fivesome swam the Snake River and the cubs dutifully played their parts: adolescent, charismatic animals, wrestling in view of the highway. 

Grand Teton National Park bear management ranger Tyler Brasington keeps watch on a growing crowd that lined Jackson Lake Dam on May 4, 2022 in anticipation of bear 399’s arrival. Word had spread the 26-year-old bear and her four cubs were on the move, headed toward the impoundment. (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

Those same youngsters, accustomed to admiring throngs and adept at putting on a show, will very soon arrive at a perilous crossroads. Turn toward the unfamiliar remote expanses of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and the up and comers might just carve out a living. But if they choose, instead, to stay on the path that runs near humanity, they’ll likely be caught and killed.

Soon to split

Wednesday’s sighting might be one of the last times bear 399 and her cubs are visible together as a family unit.  

“They’ll still potentially be traveling together for another week or two,” said Dan Thompson, who oversees large carnivore management at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. “Anytime between now and June, when breeding starts, she’ll really kick those 2-year-olds out.” 

Once that happens, the independent subadult grizzlies will be on their own, facing a number of factors stacked against them. 

Wildlife managers have been clear: the subadults will lose the special treatment afforded to their mother, the subject of an intensive around-the-clock surveillance and conflict-reduction operation during 2021, a year when the famous sow spent more time on private land than within the protective borders of Teton Park. Due to their upbringing in a national park that attracts 4 million-plus visitors each year, the subadult bears also lack a fear of humans. Worsening their prospects, the youngsters know to associate ranches and residential yards with food, the result of deliberate wildlife feeding and unsecured livestock feed and apiaries the famous brood of bears managed to get into. 

To the joy of many onlookers, two of bear 399’s four cubs squared off in a meadow visible from Teton Park Road on May 4, 2022. (Tom Knauss/Courtesy)

In short, after a lifetime being conditioned to misbehave, the bears will be suddenly subject to a wildlife management regime that is more prone to kill problem grizzlies than to relocate them. 

“It would be tough to relocate them successfully,” Thompson said. “The only other option is, they would likely be [killed].” 

That jibes with the long-term trend. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ultimately calls the shots on what becomes of federally threatened grizzly bears, but the Wyoming Game and Fish Department makes recommendations about their fates, and lays out the numbers on captures, relocations and removals in annual reports. A decade of data in those reports show that the number of grizzlies captured has been stagnant, at approximately 40 animals annually. But the agencies have generally moved away from relocating bruins that do get trapped. Between 2012 and 2016, 34% of trapped grizzlies were killed, according to WyoFile’s calculations made from agency data. But in the five years since, fatal outcomes were more likely: 55% of captured grizzlies were put down. 

“We’re learning from our management actions in the past,” Thompson said. “With the potential and amount of human injuries, and worse, we’ve had the past several years, we’re just very reluctant to move a bear involved in a conflict, especially after October, but even into September.” 

The reason fewer bears are being relocated during hunting season, Thompson explained, is public pressure. There’s “no data,” he said, that suggests a moved grizzly is more dangerous to people or less likely to survive in its new environment. 

“It’s just not tolerated anymore by the public,” Thompson said. 

“We spent $60,000 last year, the Fish and Wildlife Service in Jackson. We can’t do that, and we shouldn’t.”

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator Hilary Cooley

Wyoming Game and Fish intends to take the lead in managing bear 399 and her offspring if and when those bears depart Teton Park this year, together or independently. That’s a departure from 2021, when the state agency pulled back its on-the-ground management during the family group’s extended stay in southern Jackson Hole. The federal government dispatched its own wildlife officials instead, running up a big bill in the process, according to Fish and Wildlife Service’s grizzly bear recovery coordinator Hilary Cooley. 

“We spent $60,000 last year, the Fish and Wildlife Service in Jackson,” Cooley said. “We can’t do that, and we shouldn’t. We’ve got 2,000 bears in the Lower 48 states.”

Calls for a different tack 

Ardent 399 admirers feel otherwise. The extraordinary sow — the oldest-known female with cubs alive today in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem — is widely considered an ambassador of her species, and she’s a force attracting legions of tourists who bolster the local economy. Fans argue that the famous bear, her progeny and other habituated, roadside grizzlies do deserve continued special treatment. 

“The bears are the draw, in my opinion,” Rochester, New York photographer Tom Knauss said from the road shoulder Wednesday. “The peaks are nice and all that, but people come to see the bears — they really do.” 

“To euthanize them,” he said, “would be a big mistake.” 

Knauss called for the Park Service to “rethink” what it takes to keep bears with 399’s bloodlines alive. Officials could strategically place road-killed ungulate carcasses in the national park, he said, to dissuade their departure. That’s an idea his partner, Ricki Swanson, thought was wise. 

“We feed the damn elk on the [National Elk Refuge] to keep them out of town,” Swanson said. “All the things they say they can’t do because it’s not natural, they’re already doing.” 

Knauss and Swanson were not ready to write bear 399’s four 2-year-olds off, but other roadside spectators took a dimmer view of the youngsters’ prospects. 

Roadside grizzlies should be managed to preserve viewing opportunities for the public, Alpine resident Walt Ackerman said. “They should be considered golden ambassadors of their species,” he said, “and that should transcend boundaries and transcend agencies.” 

Griz shaking after swimming across the Snake River, one of bear 399’s subadult offspring shakes off excess water on May 4, 2022. (Mark Gocke/Courtesy)

He recognized that’s not the reality, however.

“They’re doomed,” Ackerman said of the subadults. “And the reason they’re doomed is because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the park — and this is my opinion — has made it obvious that they’re trying to kill the next generation of roadside bears.” 

Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team data suggests that bear 399 descendents, which learn to tolerate people, fare poorly relative to most grizzlies, Thompson said. Research focused on the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem’s grizzlies shows that survival increases steadily with age: 61% of cubs survive their first year out of the den, while 68% of yearlings monitored make it through year two. By the subadult life stage, annual survival rates spike to 85% and some 95% of adult grizzlies survive any given year, according to the research.

A study team “parentage analysis” suggests there are “16 to 17” individuals that are “known or likely offspring” of bear 399, not counting her current litter, Thompson said. Of those bears, five were captured and killed as a result of conflict — most recently, Grizzly 962, a 4-year-old female from world-famous sow’s previous litter. Two more bear 399 cubs were killed by vehicle strikes. “One to two” more died from undetermined natural causes, he said. 

Only four of 399’s known offspring that have been captured — less than a quarter — have no known conflict history, Thompson said. Four more were captured and relocated as a result of conflict. Three of those bears whereabouts are unknown, he said, and the fourth, a female from the same litter as 962, is now a problem bear that’s frequenting residential areas in Red Lodge, Montana. 

“What’s going on [with 399], it’s not a good scenario for her and for other bears,” Thompson said. “Having grizzlies walking through downtown Jackson doesn’t help grizzly bears as a whole.” 

Cause for optimism

Red Top Meadows resident Cindy Campbell, a longtime grizzly bear activist, said she’s focusing her energy on the silver linings of the bear 399 clan’s wanderings. The five-grizzly family, she pointed out, more or less beelined it for ranchland in southern Jackson Hole after emerging from the den over Easter weekend. There were no reports, she said and Thompson confirmed, of the grizzlies getting into human-related foods. 

“Let’s celebrate small victories,” Campbell said. “Maybe it’s not so small that her and her family just spent however many days in the [southern] Jackson Hole valley with zero conflicts.” 

Two of bear 399’s 2-year-old offspring size up photographers who cut off their desired travel path near the residence occupied by the Bureau of Reclamation’s Jackson Lake Dam operator. (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

Another cause for optimism Campbell perceived was increased public awareness and a policy shift. Bear 399, she said, has been a catalyst for change, encouraging residents to tuck away bear attractants and motivating the Teton County Board of Commissioners to require bear-proof trash cans and dumpsters throughout Jackson Hole. 

“Grizzly 399 came through town on a white horse and said, ‘This is screwed up, that’s screwed up,’” Campbell said. “And in the last year, our community stepped up, to a certain degree.” 

There’s a new initiative, Jackson Hole Bear Solutions, that’s providing free bear-resistant trash cans, livestock feed containers and electric fencing to residents who request it. Ackerman, the Alpine resident, helped get that program off the ground, convincing the nonprofit Wyoming Wildlife Advocates to take it on. 

“It’s an effort to try to solve some of the problems,” he said. “It’s better than doing nothing, and nobody was doing anything.” 

Mangelsen, meanwhile, is also contributing to the chorus calling on wildlife managers to change plans for handling the subadult grizzlies once they strike out on their own. The fivesome’s behavior, he contended, should not necessarily be construed as “conflict,” just because they access human goods left out for the taking.  

“It used to be like three strikes,” Mangelsen said. “Saying we’re not going to tolerate one strike now, that’s a pretty lousy way to manage a species on the endangered species list.” 

A creature of habit, bear 399 takes a familiar route along Jackson Lake’s shoreline on her way from Signal Mountain to willow-filled meadows along the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park. (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile

But Thompson said the problem-bear policy was never so simple. Relocation is never predetermined, he said, and there’s no concrete number of grizzly bear blunders managers condone — even if their tolerance of missteps has diminished. 

“Twenty years ago you could maybe move a bear, even within the recovery zone, and it could find a vacant home range to make a living as a young bear,” Thompson said. “But the likelihood of that now is very low.” 

Wyoming’s large carnivore manager repeated his preliminary plans for bear 399’s offspring. 

“If any of those bears are involved in a conflict involving food-rewards or something like that,” Thompson said, “I do not feel it’d be appropriate to relocate them.”

Mike Koshmrl

Mike Koshmrl reports from Jackson on state politics and Wyoming's natural resources. Prior to joining WyoFile, he spent nearly a decade covering the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s wild places and creatures...

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  1. Grizzly bears are not here for your entertainment. They are not here to improve the economy of Jackson Hole or the GYE. The richest county in the nation doesn’t need grizzly bears to have a healthy economy. Bears do not need more tourism, more traffic, and more instagram attention. Hotels do. The troublesome bears need more hunters.

    Their fear of humans needs to be real. 399 and her kids, who feel safe around humans, will obviously face a higher chance of being killed. Bears are relocated or killed when they become aggressive, kill livestock, hang out in residential areas, or receive food rewards. All of this is more likely when they become habituated to humans, or just run into more of them.

    Who helps this happen? The totally out-of-control industrial tourism sector. 4 million tourists chasing them for photo ops. And all the locals who see them, and treat them, as family pets. Clearly, 399 has learned that most humans aren’t a threat. She passes that to her offspring. Like a fed bear, a loved bear is a dead bear.

    You are the problem if you seek them out and treat them like entertainment. Human-caused mortalities accounted for 93% of the known and probable deaths in 2020, and Game and Fish dealt with more than 200 conflicts in 2020.

    Most grizzlies live unseen lives. The ones who feel comfortable around humans are more likely to be around them causing problems. Too many humans fail to understand that management includes culling. Relocating bears increases bear population numbers in the long run which in turn will lead to more management issues.

    We have so many grizzly bears that they are now a problem species like too many elk in the Laramie Mountains, and too many ungulates in Jackson Hole. The estimated grizzly population in GYE was close to 1,100, in 2021. They are well established in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and fully recovered. Wyoming has spent over 50 million managing them. The feds have spent far more.

    Jackson Hole has the resources to resources to better manage bears. It doesn’t have the self-control to manage the influx of humans, or its foolish population of locals.

    1. I agree with you. The people who are saying to leave the bears alone are ultimately going to get them put down.

      Bears don’t need an entourage of people.

  2. “If any of those bears are involved in a conflict involving food-rewards or something like that,” Thompson said, “I do not feel it’d be appropriate to relocate them.”
    I couldn’t agree more: relocate the idiots who leave food unsecured in bear country. I have heard of people who do this on purpose, so bears will be killed. Get rid of the idiots.

  3. I go to Yellowstone, Glacier, The Tetons, Banff, Jasper etc. to see grizzlies. Tourism provides dollars for these areas. Protect the bears. If you live in these areas, you need to live with the bears.

  4. Dan Thompson stated that Wyoming Game & Fish believes it would be difficult to relocate a grizzly, and that most likely it would be killed due to “public pressure.” I believe it’s the hunters and not the public that are exerting pressure on Game & Fish. Bear 399 and her offspring are considered ambassadors of their species and one of the big reasons that people come to Grand Teton and YNP to appreciate these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat wandering free, which results in a lot of money being generated. The wildlife living in and around these Parks are worth much more alive than dead. These Parks have learned from mistakes they made with bear management years ago and now make it a top priority to educate the public when visiting bear country. Wyoming must make it illegal to feed wildlife, or leave any bear attractants outside their homes, and to properly manage their animals and beehives, and store their garbage in bear resistant receptacles. It is the very least they could do to save these animals on the endangered species list. Bear 399 and her most recent offspring have caused no conflict, but have come across unsecured/unprotected human-provided food. Stating that the 3 strike rule may no longer be tolerated or even one strike is the lazy, antiquated way out. Don’t kill a bear because an uneducated or uncaring individual attracted the animal to begin with. If laws against feeding or attracting wildlife were enacted and enforced with hefty fines or jail time the bears would not be visiting ranches or neighborhoods and would continue to move on their way. It’s 2022 and we already know how to manage grizzlies in a way that allows them to live and thrive in the wild so let’s do it!

  5. One more thing. If you need $60K – it would be easy to raise from people like us who want wild life protected.

  6. The people are the problem. How tough is it to use the bear proof containers. The bears should stay. The people who can’t respect nature, should go back to the city.

  7. G & F can’t wait to kill these bears. They are a lazy and ineffective government organization. They have had 2 years now to be using rubber bullets to haze these bears away from public view. But oh no they haven’t done it. They would rather shoot a bear in the head in a culvert trap because it is easier than having to actually work to manage wildlife which is their job.

  8. We are losing so much of our native habitat and native wildlife in this country to human habitation. Please let’s protect every one of these magnificent Grizzly Bears how ever we can.
    It’s really great that so many people in the area of 399, her Cubs and other Grizzlies are working a lot harder to keep human food waste and other attractions to the bears away from them.
    We need to have a better plan than killing a bear because it comes in contact with humans, when humans are the problem.
    The Grizzly Bears of North America are one of our treasures and we need to do all we can to protect each and every one of them.

  9. Who cares if it would be tough to relocate? Punish those people who leave out food and don’t follow the regulations for protecting wildlife. This land is theirs; it is not the wild animals’ fault their homeland has been encroached upon by selfish humans. DO NOT kill these bears or others, or any wildlife living in their own milieu.

  10. Another problem made by man. Of course the solution is always the same. Just keep killing all the animals off. Evil and repulsive.

  11. The misuse and lack of definition of the word “conflict” in your article is grossly misleading and inaccurate.
    Protect these bears, do not kill them.

  12. My husband and I have been to Yellowstone 3 times and plan on going again next year. We have seen grizzly #399 two times and just love seeing her and other black bear. All the bear should be protected. They were there first. I don’t care what they do, we should not kill them. I know all the reasons you have but we need to relocate if necessary.

  13. The bears haven’t harmed anyone. They are endangered. 2000 in the US? to kill instead if relocate is ludicrous. There are a lot if mountain ranges still uninhabited where they could be relocated if an area becomes overpopulated.

  14. Yey another man-made problem being solved the only way they know how – kill wildlife. That is their only solution.

  15. I live near a river parkway in suburban California, a quarter mile from a U.S. 50 freeway ramp. I have mountain lions, bob cats, deer, coyotes, and lots of wild turkeys in my neighborhood. And more. It is a priviledge to have the wild life, and it is my choice to live with them.. A friend of a personal friend was killed by a mountain lion, while jogging a few miles from my home. And of course, fish and game rubbed it out and put its cubs in a zoo. They could have put all of them there. I also hunt. In Africa mostly. I spent time on a ranch with 180 lions and 20 tigers not long ago. We were not hunting them. They had large areas to rome, but were contained. There are lots of sanctuaries around the world fortunately, because wildlife is going to be gone without them. Bureaucrats and the overly sensitive public are too quick to rub out animals that interfere with pristine views of the way they think wildlife ” should exist.” 2000 Grizzlies left in the lower 48 is rather slim. If you want them around as a species find a way to make them financially viable. Quit rubbing them out because they eat garbage or stroll through town. Advertise ahead of time for places to relocate them. Milk them for their genetics, move them far and wide. They are in Canada, Europe, Russia, the lower 48 Alaska,,, find some overly protective whiney and not whiney groups that want them. Would you rather they were ALL gone as a species, or to have some exploited to save the greater number for some kind of future in a crowded world. Im not talking about Asian gall bladder harvesting or dancing bears in a circus. If you want them around, people will have to be compensated for damages sometimes. People will die and people will lose property. And people die in traffic every day. I got grabbed by a full size sea lion that wanted fish I speared while scuba diving. It was quit a ride. I will still scuba dive. People pay to see bears and people will pay to stalk and hunt them. Quit killing the inconvenient misbehavior. Trap them, trank them, recover their genetics, sell them, trade them. Quit wasting them if you want them to survive in a world with over 8 billion people, soon to be 16 billion people.

    1. This will creature would be imprisoned and forced to live a life of boredom with no freedom to live as it chooses with no resemblance of its former wild existence of total freedom. Teach people how to peacefully co-exist with all of our precious wildlife. No animal should pay the price for human ignorance!

  16. YOU NEED TO MOVE THE NUNANCE HUMANS AND LEAVE THE GRIZZLY BEARS TO. MOTHER NATURE. THE HUMANS ARE THE PROBLEM NOT THE BEARS!!!

  17. I think if the fish and game it is not managing to allow bears survive they simply are worthless and not providing any help, they are not doing their job and earning from the government monies which are not providing. They are a total waist. They should changed their management and substitute for personnel that cares for the survival of the bears, mainly. Lucrecia Sparkslucrecia@gmail.com

  18. I do not condone the killing of these magnificent bears. People feed them then expect the bears to be punished for coming to the area to eat. Feeding the bears like the elk are being fed seems like the best solution to me. Too many people are trigger happy to kill and slow to find an Effective way to solve the problem and keep the bears alive. As for me I hope the bears continue to thrive.

  19. Contrary to what some long winded and self righteous individuals indicate as solutions to the Wy and adjacent states bear problem. The solution is not simple or easy.

    Fairness is in the eye of the beholder. With some eyes clouded with extreme narrow mindedness and self inflated importance of their opinions.

    There are many, with good intentions and arguments of worth on the issue that see things from different perspectives.

    This is not a problem that has to be settled immediately. Even if we wish we could.

    Careful, steady changes. Compromising and adapting when possible. Not attacking opposing sides.

    Will more likely do the most good in the least time.

    Your opponent on issue resolution should not be your enemy.

  20. How absolutely disgusting. If people would just leave the bears alone, this wouldn’t be a problem. But no, we keep destroying animal habitats to expand our own and butting in where we aren’t needed or wanted. And then hey, let’s just shoot them. Their lives don’t matter, right? And yet, human beings are the most overpopulated species on the planet. This is why we will end up causing our own distruction.

  21. Allowing 399 and her cubs free reign of the area for two years without hazing, expecting them now to “ behave like good bears” is insanity. Stringing the tourists along allowing them access to habituating these bears to humans, then killing them because they get into trouble that humans caused in the first place will not go over well with the people that have come to know them. We are not talking just Jackson Hole. These bears are famous. Let’s manage them, not euthanize them.

  22. We all bear (pun intended) of the human conditioning of this magnificent family. As a photographer I made the decision not to participate in any of this voyeurism, mass hysteria, paparazzi or whatever you want to call it for the safety of the bears. It breaks my heart what has occurred in the last 2.5 years with this family. 399 was preconditioned years ago and should have been targeted and hazed at every opportunity, she was not, and now has taught her cubs to seek food to unacceptable human rules. Now what, are you going to kill her, kill her cubs as a result of our human failings? We are the problem, I said two years ago this family was not going to end well because we cannot let them be grizzly’s, to grow up grizzly without any human conditioning. So, so very heartbreaking.

  23. I understand that there are many necessary rules for bear management. However, this most unusual situation of 399 with her 4 cubs surviving through two winters is unheard of in the area. This family has brought an incredible amount of money into the Tetons and beyond.

    From a personal standpoint, they have brought great joy. You would think that some of these dollars could go to reimburse the dollars spent and maybe another fund to pay further costs.

    Why are not the residents who didn’t take care of the trash properly or store grains, or feed them held somewhat accountable?

    Think outside of the box. Can volunteers help? Can money be raised? This is a very unusual situation. There must be a solution/s that will have a better outcome than euthanasia.

  24. This is not okay! Those in charge of GYE grizzly management are letting (local) public pressure, not science, dictate how they deal with an endangered species.

  25. On a ranch I managed for a bit in New Mexico Game and Fish gave us rubber slugs for a 12 gauge to deal with bears who were a little too curious about the orchards and gardens. It works.
    Imagine getting punched by Mike Tyson for a taste of honey. Not one of the three bears who got “punched” came back for an apple or to root through the compost piles.
    Wild bears should have a fear of humans, not be followed by throngs of them.
    Doesn’t seem to me like the bee keeper or the gardener with chickens who composts is the problem here. How’s that electric fence going to be for the wren who lands on it? No tourist dollars there.

  26. You need a season for Grizzly, you are killing them any way and costing instead of bringing money into the system to conserve them. By nature they will go where the food is. Be it Elk, deer, antelope, cattle or horses. They will get closer to people, also by nature a grizzly is a wanderer, you cannot put him in a place and expect he will stay there. He will wander as a great predator will do. Look at people, they wander how many still live in the house they were brought up in. It is inevitable for a season unless to feel good you just have someone do the killing and complain about hunters. There needs to be a serious descussion on what should be done to maintain the Grizzly population at its current populations.

    1. Perhaps we have a season for humans who encroach on bear habitat, or approach them for selfies, or leave attractants out? Keep hans at their current population, perhaps thin it by a few thousand in the GYE. That would make more sense.

  27. It’s great that Teton County has passed some “don’t feed the bears” rules concerning protecting the bears effective July 1. Too bad they don’t have the staff to enforce the rules. I can find you numerous wildlife warrior volunteers whom Teton County could “deputize” to write up and issue citations to violators of the new rules. If we can’t enforce the rules, people won’t follow them. I hope the violations call for substantial fines on the first offense, not a weak letter to the violator. Ray Thomas, Jackson, WY

    1. hmmm, neighbors snooping around spying on neighbors, really? Citing the bird feeders and gardeners? These aren’t the people who have conditioned 399’s offspring to not fear humans.

    1. I think it better to move or euthanize an animal that gets in trouble with humans doing what they naturally do than to put them in zoos. That’s like putting a person in prison for life for a first offense misdemeanor.

    2. I dont think a bear that are known to live a long time . In a cage , A Life
      sentence instead of roaming Free I wonder if Casey has an opinion or solution if they believe theres a problem . Shirley.

  28. There are millions of acres of prime grizzly bear habitat in the wilderness areas of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho that do not have resident bears. There are millions more acres of excellent secondary grizzly habitat in Colorado, Utah , and Washington state that have not seen any bears in many decades. Yet all the barstool biology ballyhoo is that Wyoming has too many grizzlies – pick a number above 700 that suits your belief system . Wyoming wants a floor population of 500 bears, and a ceiling number of roughly 750 max. Wyoming also has a compulsion to kill grizzly bears as a firstr esort, calling it ” management “. That compulsion is actually more severe in the barstool biology DNA of Idaho and Montana, which have near zero love for Grizz and precious little for any apex predator. Yet the hue and cry is ” Feds get done and gone, it’s time for the States to manage all those surplus Great Bears “.
    What is wrong with this picture ? First , the last agency we want to manage the ongoing recovery and sustainability of grizzly bears are any of the state wildlife agencies… because they really make no distinction whatsoever betweem wildlife, trophy game, and huntable yields of revenue generating big game.Their main management tool is a rifle…everything else liones up behind the crosshairs. Second, all those purported surplus grizzly bears —like 399’s adolescent cubs — should be occupying those millions of acres of empty bear habitat as theor forebears did, but they are not. The states- especially the Livestock Lords – simply put up too many impediments to allow bears to naturally migrate into new territories on either side of theContinental Divide all the way to british Columbia. The bears can’t get to the Promsied Land without help, and Climate Change is making it more difficult to do so as the habitat biomes morph. ONLY the Federal Government has the authority to relocate bears across state lines for management goals based on biological mperatives and ESA mandates… the three states will nevermove bears to the extent needs. USF&WS could relocate two of 399’s cubs to the Selway Biterroot if theyw anted to. They could move a LOT of front country and conflict grizzly bears into new domain and range to repopulate the barren bear habitat without firing a shot. They could do this, and still leave Wyoming enough grizzlies to satisfy their blood lust to have (faux) trophy grizzly hunts of 10-12 bears per annum. We can expand grizzly range and have trophy hunts and deal with conflict bears all at the same time…but it should not be the States doing it. Because their biological biases prevail , the Stockgrowers remain the equivalent of the rangeland Taliban , and they still do not know the differnce between wildlife and big game. If you try to have a formal discussion about landscape scale ecological management on long timelines in thef ace of climate change , their eyes go dull and their spleens start venting . But really , if a Giant Panda can be moved from the southern bamboo jungles of China , loaded on a FedEx airliner , and transported healthily to the Berlin Zoo or Washington D.C.’s national zoo, surely the mighty federal wildlife machine can move a slightly sedated Grizzly 125 air miles in a Sikorsky from Wapiti Wyoming to somewhere north and west of Salmon Idaho in about two hours time. New bears relocated every week if needed. And it is needed.

    Yellowstone Grizzly bear management is a national imperative but a supreme embarassment to the states on the ground. They are doing it all wrong. No number of wrongs makes it right.

    We’ve got plenty of bears and plenty of empty habitat… all in the wrong places for the wrong reasons.

    1. actually, this (relocating bears) could probably be funded out of jackson hole with very little effort. 399 and her cubs have generated incredible revenues for local business. it could easily be a no cost alternative. the idea of euthanizing as a first option has always been a bit crazy, and near sighted.

    2. It is too easy for the Federal Fish and Wildlife management as well as the state fish and game to euthanize bears rather than move them. Moving bears usually involves trailering a captured bear in a colvert trap to a “remote” location that is easy to drive to rather than flying them to an isolated area away from humans. How about giving the bears a break instead of the needle