Wyoming Game And Fish Grizzly Bear Captures Continue To Decline, Food Reward Problems Rise

Feb 19, 2021

Credit GRIZZLY BEAR ON SWAN LAKE FLATS, YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK; JIM PEACO

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department's (WGFD) grizzly bear management actions decreased in 2020 compared to 2019. However, the number of bears captured involving food rewards increased.

In 2020, Wyoming Game and Fish captured 26 grizzly bears in an effort to prevent or resolve conflicts. This is down from 2019 when 33 bears were captured.

Out of the 26 bears, 13 were a result of bears killing livestock and the other 13 were a result of bears that obtained food rewards through pet and livestock feed. A recent article in the Jackson Hole News and Guide revealed a property owner was deliberately putting food out for wildlife attracting grizzlies.

Brian Debolt, WGFD large carnivore conflict coordinator, said there is still room to grow for public education and good wildlife stewardship.

"We would rather folks just comply and not feed wildlife artificially," said Debolt. "But we just know that's not the case without some sort of enforcement hand behind it. It doesn't hold a lot of water, and some of those folks just won't comply."

Debolt said managers were worried there were going to be more conflicts between humans and bears due to the increase of people in the backcountry.

"We had a relatively good abundance of natural foods last year. And that's really what drives their conflict numbers. When they have good natural foods to forage on, and keep away from humans. There's lower numbers of conflict," said Debolt.

Eighteen of the grizzlies were put down due to a history of previous conflicts, close association with humans or unsuitable for release in wildlife.