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Numbers Show 2018 A Deadly Year For Yellowstone Grizzly Bears

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Wyoming Game and Fish Department
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A new report released by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department shows a record high number of Yellowstone area grizzlies were captured and then euthanized last year. 53 grizzlies were captured and 32 were put down.

Brian Nesvik, the chief game warden of Wyoming Game and Fish Department, said there is a process behind the decision on whether to relocate or remove the bear.

Nesvik said one factor is, "whether that bear is probable to get into conflict again. Certainly, the age and gender of the bear is considered." He said, "obviously, a young female bear still has potential to be reproductive...those are things that are considered."

In September, the grizzly was put back under Endangered Species Act Protections, which means a federal agency will now decide what happens with problem bears. Either way, Nesvik expects human-bear conflicts to increase as the animal is moving out of its core habitat.

"It correlates very well with increased bear population, increased distribution and the phenomenon we've seen with bears moving out from the core recovery areas and out outside of areas of the DMA," he said.

The Demographic Monitoring Area (DMA) are the areas the agency deems suitable for the bears outside of their core habitat. Nesvik said the department is running out of suitable areas to relocate problem bears. Proponents of keeping the grizzly under Endangered Species Act protections say the bear is expanding in search of food, which has been decreasing due to climate change.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

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