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Natural Resources & Energy

Grizzly Family To Face Hazing After Consistent, And Illegal Roadside Human Activity

 A mother grizzly bear and her two cubs walking down a snowy hill.
Dave M Shumway
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Dave M Shumway
Grizzly 863 and her two cubs.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and partners have started a targeted hazing operation on a grizzly bear and her two cubs.

The grizzly family has been appearing regularly on a section of Togwotee Pass. And because the pass isn't far from Grand Teton National Park, tourists have been making the mistake of stopping to observe the bears when they drive by and spot them. But U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Hilary Cooley said that, unlike the park, the pass is not designed to support such roadside activity.

"We've got four different agencies with different jurisdictions, and we don't have any jurisdiction over traffic. It's really different," said Cooley.

Wildlife watchers have been creating unsafe situations by parking illegally on the side of the state highway and approaching, disturbing or feeding the bears. This could lead the bears to become habituated to humans.

Previous efforts, like giving out tickets to those illegally parked, have not succeeded. Cooley said the summer is making it even busier.

"We just don't have enough staff to be there for the full season from dawn till dusk to manage, to enforce," said Cooley. "To do it consistently in a way to keep the humans primarily, but certainly the bears too, safe."

The service is hoping a 14-day consistent hazing will teach grizzly 863 to stay away from the road. Cooley said so far it has been promising. Hazing includes loud noises and non-lethal rounds fired at the bears. If the bears do not stay away after the 14 days, Cooley said they will be relocated. Some people worry that hazing can hurt the bears.

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