Game & Fish Put Down Problem Bear In Teton Canyon

Wyoming Game and Fish Department personnel captured two black bears in the Teton Canyon area on July 4, 2016.  One young male bear captured was not believed to be involved in the bold behavior that resulted in the closure of the area.  This bear was relocated to the Flagstaff Creek drainage of the Bridger-Teton National Forest.  The second, a young female bear, matched photographs, track size, and distinct color patterns of the suspected bear and has been euthanized.   Wyoming Game and Fish Department personnel are removing the bear traps from Teton Canyon today, and Caribou-Targhee National Forest Supervisor, Garth Smelser plans to rescind the Teton Canyon Area Closure Order effective 12:00 PM  (noon) on Thursday July 7, 2016.

Forest Supervisor Smelser, closed the area on Friday, July 1, 2016 due to the presence of the food conditioned, aggressive bear.  On July 2, 2016, in an area just downstream from the closure area, the bear had gotten a food reward at an unoccupied dispersed campsite.  The campers had left food in their tent and coolers out and accessible to bears. Prior to that, there were reports that the bear had attempted entry into at least two occupied tents and one unoccupied tent, had charged people and displayed very bold, unnatural behavior.

“Neither aversive conditioning or relocation would be effective for a bear exhibiting this level of dangerous behavior, “said Wyoming Game and Fish Large Carnivore Biologist Mike Boyce.

“The potential for human injury was obvious enough in this case to warrant removing the bear from the population.

“According to reports, this bear had been in the Teton Canyon area for a week before its persistence was reported to district personnel”, stated District Ranger Jay Pence. “Unfortunately, this was plenty of time for the bear to become conditioned to food rewards gained by the bear due to campers not complying with food storage orders.” 

The Forest and Wyoming Game & Fish Department is urging the public to report bears visiting camping areas as soon as possible before they become food-conditioned.  The earlier mangers learn of potential bear conflict situations, the more options they have to help diffuse these conflicts, so that the bear does not become dangerously bold and can live out its life as a wild bear.

Game and Fish officials warn that the Teton Canyon area, and all of the Teton Range, is good bear habitat and there may be additional bears visiting the area. “The fact that we caught two bears there the same day should serve as a reminder that there are likely many bears using this area,” said Boyce. “Given that, it is imperative that campers are vigilant about securing their food, garbage and other potential bear attractants or we could be doing this all over again. I don’t think anybody wants to be the cause of a bear injuring a person or a bear being removed from the population.”

The closure affected the Teton Canyon and Reunion Flats Campgrounds, two major trailheads leading into the Jedidiah Smith Wilderness, Treasure Mountain Boy Scout Camp, and many other areas used by the public for fishing, camping, hiking, sightseeing and general enjoyment.

“The Caribou-Targhee National Forest and Wyoming Game & Fish Department appreciate the support and understanding the public has provided while we have worked to capture this food-conditioned bear”’ stated Pence.

The majority of the Targhee portion of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest is included in an Occupancy and Use Food Storage order (see attached), signed January 29, 2010, that requires users of the National Forest in these areas to keep attractants out of contact of bears.


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