Wildlife Service trying to retrain Jackson Hole’s wandering Grizzly Bears

Grizzly Bear 399 and her four cubs have been causing some real challenges for wildlife managers in recent weeks. US Fish and Wildlife Service Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator Hilary Cooley has been in Jackson Hole for the last week and a half trying to keep up with the movements of the five bears, but she says they have been good at hiding for periods of time.

“So, we’re trying to find her – and we’re doing this everyday driving around looking for her, following up on reports. And so, the goal for that is if we know if she’s returning to a human attractant that we don’t want her to access; giving her some sort of a consequence and saying ‘no, that’s not what you should be doing,’ that’s the goal: just retraining her.”

Cooley says they really appreciate when the public reports their sightings of the bears. That reporting is especially helpful when it is timely rather than delayed, but all reports are of interest. Sightings should be reported to the Wyoming Game and Fish office. At the same time, the public should take care to store attractants where the bears cannot get to them, especially as 399 is frequenting areas we don’t normally see grizzly bears.

“Definitely garbage, grills, bird feeders, pet food that might be left on the porch sometimes, and there might be some unusual things that attract a bear that you’re not normally thinking about – sometimes compost piles. So, think creatively about anything a grizzly bear…  This is an omnivore. They take advantage of all sorts of food choices.”

Cooley says once the late season elk hunt starts up in the Park, it is hoped the gut piles that creates will attract 399 back north like she normally does, but she says this year, 399’s movements have been really unusual so there’s no telling if she is going to do that again this year or change it up and stay south.

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