The 2019 Annual Report of Grizzly Bear Management Captures, Relocations, and Removals completed by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is now available on the department website. The annual report is required by state statute and quantifies management actions by the Game and Fish in relation to grizzly bear conflict resolution in Wyoming outside the National Parks and Wind River Reservation.
Because grizzly bears remain under federal protection, Game and Fish manages grizzly bears in Wyoming under the direction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. During 2019, Game and Fish captured 33 individual grizzly bears in an attempt to prevent or resolve conflicts.
Of the 34 capture events (one bear was captured twice), 20 captures were a result of bears killing livestock (primarily cattle), 10 were captures involving bears that obtained food rewards (pet, livestock food, garbage, fruit trees), or were frequenting developed sites or human populated areas unsuitable for grizzly bear occupancy. Three events were non-target captures at livestock depredation sites, and 1 bear was captured and relocated from the Cody landfill. Of the 34 capture events, 18 (53%) were in Park County, 8 (23%) were in Sublette County, 4 (12%) were in Fremont County, 3 (9%) were in Hot Springs County and 1 (3%) was in Teton County
“We have documented an increasing distribution of grizzly bears throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which leads to a higher conflict potential, especially as bears expand into more agricultural, residential and human-dominated landscapes,” said Brian DeBolt, large carnivore conflict coordinator. “Game and Fish responds with proactive and responsive management strategies; this report summarizes those situations requiring an on-the-ground capture effort to reduce conflict.”
“All captured grizzly bears provide a wealth of information into overall grizzly bear population status and health,” said DeBolt.
Fifteen grizzly bears were relocated to U.S. Forest Service land in or adjacent to the core grizzly bear habitat referred to as the “recovery zone”.
“Relocation of grizzly bears reduces the chance of property damage, reduces the potential for bears to become food conditioned, allows bears to forage on natural foods and remain wary of people and provides a non-lethal option when and where appropriate,” said Rick King, chief of the Game and Fish wildlife division.
There was a significant decrease in grizzly bear conflict activities and subsequent management actions by the Game and Fish compared to 2018 due to a strong natural food year coupled with the previous year’s management actions and grizzly bear population dynamics. In 2019, there were no human injuries or fatalities due to grizzly bears.
“While conflicts will always ebb and flow with a biologically recovered population, we were very fortunate that we did not have any human injuries or fatalities due to grizzly bears,” King said. “There was also a reduced number of human-caused grizzly bear mortalities in Wyoming. This is something we strive for every year.”
Grizzly bears are relocated in accordance with state and federal laws, regulations and policy. More about how the Game and Fish manages grizzly bears in Wyoming is available online. Game and Fish also continues to educate the public about how to proactively live and recreate in bear country to avoid conflicts as part of our “Bear Wise Wyoming” program.