Spring brings return of large carnivores
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 on April 12.
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 Department (WGFD) large carnivore biologist.
In Cody, the three- to four-year-old bear caused problems raiding cornfields, apple trees and other food rewards found in developed residential areas.
Numerous Hoback Basin residents reported seeing the male grizzly exploring around their homes, barns and outbuildings, as well as making appearances 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. The concern is that this bear has been very visible,” Turnbull added.
The bear made a big circle from the highway near Dell Creek Road where, on behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), WGFD 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 FWS,” he said. “The factors that led to the decision to remove him were his prior relocation, high human habituation, property damage and his history entering structures and receiving human food rewards. These behaviors made him unsuitable for another relocation or to allow him to continue such behavior.”
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, grizzlies are documented all around Sublette County, from the Wyoming Range to the Winds to the Gros Ventre 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, WGFD public information specialist.
Joy Ufford is a reporter for the Pinedale Reporter and the Sublette Examiner. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.