While it has been a tough food year for grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem due to this year’s drought, the bears appear to be doing well none-the-less due to their adaptability. The Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee wrapped up their two-day fall meeting yesterday, and Spokesman Gregg Losinski says the question of food sources saw considerable discussion. Losinski says for the most part, the bears that have been trapped prior to winter have been in very good shape. He says the bears’ ability to find alternate food sources is probably one of the factors that has led to not having had the conflicts this summer seen last year. Losinski adds that the cones from the white bark pine trees that have survived were a banner crop leading the bears to move to higher elevations to feed on the cones when they were available. Unlike the end of last year, when bear managers were discussing a high number of bear/human confrontations and maulings, this year Losinski says there were none. He says one thing they noted in the national parks where data could be tracked is that people carrying bear spray this year increased dramatically. Losinski says there are still concerns about potential hunter/bear conflicts though. Losinski says reports told of a slower growth of the bear population, but at the same time, he says managers witnessed spreading out from their traditional habitat leading to concerns about future conflicts.
Photo from Mark Gocke, WGF