- August 30, 2019

The Safety of Wildlife on Togwotee Pass Starts With Humans

by Jackson Hole Radio News

This summer, a sow grizzly bear, known as Bear 863, and her cub have been highly visible along U.S. Highway 26/287 on Togwotee Pass, between Moran and Dubois, Wyoming. Over the past three summers, many people have had the opportunity to view Bear 863, and she has developed a large, devoted group of followers. Recently, the behavior of people around these bears has created significant concern for the safety of the bears, the people interacting with them, and traffic on the highway.

As is the case for many human-habituated bears along road corridors, the future of these bears is highly uncertain and largely depends on the behavior of people. All bears have a threshold for human presence that, once exceeded, may cause them to become aggressive towards people. This is especially true of sows that will defend their cubs from a perceived threat.

On several occasions, people have approached these bears very closely, and, in some cases, people have been almost close enough to touch them. Though Bear 863 appears to be more tolerant of people than most bears, there is high potential for her to respond aggressively and injure someone if approached too closely. To ensure your own safety, as well as the safety of Bear 863 and her cub, please do not intentionally approach these, or any other, bears closer than 100 yards.

Additionally, these bears may have already received food from humans and have accessed an unattended stringer of fish at Wind River Lake on the Shoshone National Forest. The old saying “a fed bear is a dead bear” holds true. Bears that have been fed by people quickly learn to associate humans with food and often must be dispatched by managers to prevent them from injuring humans.  Regulations on both the Bridger-Teton and Shoshone National Forests prohibit making human foods or garbage accessible to bears.

Highway traffic is also a significant concern for Bear 863 and her cub. She may have already survived one collision with a vehicle, but may not be so lucky if it happens again. Please remember to slow down and watch for wildlife near U.S. Highway 26/287 near Togwotee Pass.

The U. S. Forest Service, Wyoming Game & Fish Department, and Wyoming Department of Transportation have varying authorities on Togwotee Pass, but cannot be everywhere at once.  We are asking for your help. Please remember to always keep a safe distance from bears, never feed bears or leave food accessible to them, and slow down and watch for wildlife near the highway.

Comments 1
  • It’s time to start putting down these damn people who somehow think it’s ok to take advantage of nature’s tremendous amount of patience by pushing the envelope of the safety space between them and animals in the wild that are able kill them if they get to close instead of putting the animals down lock up the people for 30 days if they’re caught! It just doesn’t seem right that an asshole that has something perverse to prove to themselves or someone else and attempts to have feed will carnivores and take the chance of either getting killed or getting the animal killed so lock these people up! This is the year 2019 in there by now they do not understand that they should not be tempting animals to come close and getting the animals killed then they shouldn’t have the right of freedom and they should be locked up for at least 30 days free each offense!

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