It’s ‘bear-ly’ springtime

© 2017-Sublette Examiner

BONDURANT – A male grizzly bear that awoke from his hibernation a month ago at the north end of Hoback Canyon and wandered up the river to investigate Bondurant homes and ranches was removed last Wednesday.

The grizzly had been collared after being trapped and relocated from the Cody area to the west side of the Teton Range, according to Zach Turnbull, Wyoming Game and Fish (G&F) large carnivore biologist.

“I don’t remember a bear being moved there and coming here,” Turnbull said last Tuesday.

In Cody, the 3- to 4-year-old bear caused problems raiding cornfield, apple trees and other food rewards found in developed residential areas.

Numerous Hoback Basin residents reported seeing the male grizzly around and in their homes, barns and outbuildings, as well as at three cattle ranches, two of which have new calves in the fields.

“As far as having a grizzly bear here, it’s not new; it’s more that he has been very visible,” Turnbull added.

The bear “made a big circle from the highway back up here” near Dell Creek Road where on behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), G&F put out a “square culvert” trap with deer remains inside.

However, the grizzly did not take the bait and FWS requested that he be removed. Turnbull located the grizzly the night of April 12.

“I removed him under the authority of, and after receiving permission from, the FWS,” he said in an email Friday. “The factors that led to the decision to remove him were his prior relocation, highly human habituated, property damage, entering structures, and receiving human food rewards. These behaviors made him unsuitable for another relocation or to allow him to continue such behavior in the basin.”

Turnbull added, “His hide was salvaged and we will try donating it to an educational facility, museum, tribe, etc.”

Although this particular grizzly had not shown had aggressive human or livestock conflicts, the fact is grizzlies are documented all around Sublette County, from the Wyoming Range to the Winds to the Gros Ventres Range.

As they come out of hibernation, they are hungry and unpredictable.

“With reports of bears venturing out of their winter dens, we’re reminded that it’s a good time to think about how to avoid potential conflicts with large carnivores,” said Mark Gocke, G&F public information specialist. Wildlife officials encourage anyone who spends time in bear and lion country to attend one of the upcoming “Living in Large Carnivore Country” seminars to be held in Jackson and Pinedale

Anyone living or recreating in bear or mountain lion country – or those who want to know more about these carnivores’ habits and habitats – is welcome to attend the G&F’s annual “Living in Large Carnivore Country” seminar tomorrow, Wednesday, April 19, at the Pinedale Library. The workshop, from 6 to 8 p.m., is free and open to the public.

The workshop is designed to give people “good practical information” on preventing conflicts or reacting to an encounter, with G&F and partner agencies participating.

Topics will include bear and lion food habits, where one would expect to encounter these animals, food storage regulations, understanding bear and lion behavior, what to do in an encounter, and the proper use of bear pepper spray.

The workshop also will touch on the topic of wolves.

“It’s quite rare for a wolf to attack a person, but there can be other types of conflicts, such as with domestic dogs,” Gocke said. “With wolf encounters becoming more common in northwest Wyoming, we’ve added some information on that topic as well.” 

For more information, call the Pinedale G&F Office at 307-367-4353.

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