There aren’t a lot of grizzly bears in Idaho, but other than the rare northern Idaho Selkirk grizzly, the hot spot is the Targhee National Forest vicinity, immediately south and south by southwest of Yellowstone, generally between Yellowstone Park and the west slope of the Teton Range.*  In recent years, subdivisions have been growing in this lovely forest area along the Idaho/Wyoming border on the edge of the West Slope. Grizzly bears have been slowly expanding their range down the west slope of the Tetons as well.

The two collided yesterday and a man was seriously injured just outside his home in the forest and sagebrush.

Story in the Idaho Statesman. By Rocky Barker and Patrick Orr. Bear protecting moose carcass in E. Idaho mauls man who went out to see why his dog was barking

* There is another small area of grizzly bear concentration in Eastern Idaho — the Henry’s Lake Mountains area on the Idaho/Montana border, SW of West Yellowstone.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

33 Responses to Tetonia, Idaho area man mauled near his home by a grizzly with a moose carcass

  1. avatar chris says:

    It is a credit to the victim’s intelligence and temperment that he doesn’t want the bear killed because he realizes why it attacked. If only the ID Fish and Game could be so clear headed. In Yellowstone the biologists will remove large mammal carcasses close to any of the developed areas in order to protect visitors. I’m not sure why this couldn’t be done in this situation. A cool headed response to attacks by bears defending their food or cubs will be even more critical if the grizzlies are delisted. But if they can’t get it right now when the bears are more protected, the outlook is considerabley bleak after delisting.

    If grizzlies are delisted conflicts like this will likely increase due to their declining food sources, and the relaxing of limits on residential development and the extractive industries.

  2. I think this man deserves a lot of credit too.

  3. avatar matt bullard says:

    From the updated article on the Statesman’s website:

    http://www.idahostatesman.com/235/story/79245.html

    “The trapping team placed a road killed deer near the existing moose carcass to bait the bear into an area with culvert traps and snares.”

    Not being familiar with “culvert traps” or “snares”, could someone describe how one traps a freaking grizzly bear?

    It does seem like they intend to kill this bear, based on this quote:

    “Ultimately, I don’t want to drive it out of the area and become someone else’s problem.” Teton County Sheriff Kim Cook.

    So short of moving the moose carcass, which sounds like a great idea to get what appears to be a healthy bear out of the area, they bring in MORE dead animals to lure it back, then piss it off by trying to trap it. Genius, I tell you…

  4. avatar Buffaloed says:

    A culvert trap is just what it sounds like. It is a trap made from a piece of large culvert (pipe used to move water underneath a road) and it has a bait tied to a trigger so that when the bear climbs in and pulls the bait a door closes behind it.

    You can see a photo here:
    http://www.windowsintowonderland.org/bears/images/culverttrap.jpg

  5. avatar Moose says:

    I can’t speak for grizzlies, but relocating ‘troublesome’ black bears has been successful in Mich. Seems like a reasonable compromise between killing it and just moving the carcass (perhaps there would be legal ramifications if the bear returned and did additional ‘mischief’)

    This is old, but it is a powerful testament to the strength and quickness of grizzlies.

  6. avatar Jay says:

    The pisser of it all is this isn’t a problem bear per se, it’s a case of someone stumbling into a bear unannounced. It’s not like it was breaking into garages for dog food, it was just eating carrion like it’s supposed to. In all likelihood, this bear has probably been in the area before without anybody even knowing about it…just took an unfortunate set of circumstances for it’s presence to be discovered.

  7. avatar Vicki says:

    I am thrilled to see that this unfortunate man was, firstly, okay. Secondly, that he recognizes that living in bear habitat comes with hazards. Here is a case when a man knows he happened upon a bad set of circumastances. He is to be commendedfor not damning the animal who behaved instinctually. Bravo, and a speedy recovery to him.
    It is all to frequent that people move into areas because of all the cute animals, and then want them exterminated when they eat the sod. This man is an excellent example to those folks.

  8. avatar elkhunter says:

    Vicki, I doubt he shares your same enthusiasm about him being attacked, and his attitude towards the bear. Obviously its something that you live with, and they are threats, people always say that those types of things are isolated incidents, but they become very unisolated when it is you I think. I would be nervous hunting in grizzly country, encounters might not happen alot, but they do happen, and I would hate to be face to face with one and be that 1 in 1,000,000 chance of being attacked. You have to give the guy credit for his attitude, but at the same time, what if it would have ended in a death? Or maybe a child being killed? Those are the hazards of bringing grizzlies into areas that have not had them for along time. Thats just my opinion though, and I dont think comparing someone having a squirrel eat their grass, to a 500 LB grizzly attacking you, and almost killing you, outside your own home. Those are 2 very different things. Almost night and day I would say.

    Elkhunter that one in a million chance you fear doesn’t compute. You are an elk hunter, right? People have heart attacks, get shot, fall off their horse every hunt at a much higher rate than grizzlies get them even in dense grizzly country. Ralph Maughan

  9. avatar matt bullard says:

    elkhunter said, “You have to give the guy credit for his attitude, but at the same time, what if it would have ended in a death? Or maybe a child being killed? Those are the hazards of bringing grizzlies into areas that have not had them for along time.”

    I agree about the comment regarding his commendable attitude, and I’m not sure either you or Vicki are really in a place to speak about how this guy feels beyond what has been said. But who brought the grizzlies? I suppose you could argue that it is a result of human policies that are allowing them to expand, but I think it would be more accurately stated that those are the hazards of living in grizzly habitat. Sure, the bears are occupying long vacant territory and this guy did not ask for what happened to him. I do believe that the growth in this part of Idaho is about as fast if not faster than some of the more urban areas of the State. I just think it is the other way around – those are the hazards of moving/building/occupying grizzly habitat.

  10. avatar elkhunter says:

    Matt, when one mauls you or a loved on I hope you are just as gracious.

  11. avatar Jay says:

    No doubt it’d be a horrible experience to go through, but put it into perspective–we as humans accept risks on a daily basis when we get into our cars, go near strange dogs (yes, way more people have been killed by domestic dogs than grizzlies), even the food we eat. That said, I don’t see anybody pouring their hearts out to the thousands of people that die each year in car wrecks. I don’t see anybody looking to outlaw cars. But because it’s an extremely unusual incident, that it was a wild animal attacking a human, it somehow makes it more tragic, and makes bears some kind of menace of the woods? This was a rare, unfortunate incident, and nothing more, nothing less.

  12. avatar matt bullard says:

    Jay – right on.

    Elkhunter, sometimes I wonder how you step foot out of doors. You always go back to the “if it happened to your kids” method of cultivating irrational fear. If I *chose* to live in bear country, those would be the risks I’d have ot accept. Those people will have to adapt. In the end, the bear and these bears in general will be the losers with attitudes like the one displayed in Barker’s article in Friday’s Statesman:

    http://idahostatesman.com/273/story/79366.html

    “They don’t bother me, but they are an enemy,” Murri said. “People want to make them out to be warm cuddly teddy bears, but they’re not.”

    The enemy??? Wow…

  13. avatar Vicki says:

    Elkhunter, I said I was thrilled that he was okay. How you got that I am enthusiastic about him being attacked is evidence that you didn’t pay too much attention to what I said. I’d never be enthusiatsic about anyone being attacked, I help save lives everyday. And that’s worse for bears. The man who was attacked said he didn’t want the bear killed. So I’d say he knew he was in an at- risk situation and accepted it. He’s not blaming the bear, so I have no idea why you feel you have a right to. No one is putting bears in backyards, they ar moving into the bears’ backyards. And where you got squirrels from is just a stretch. I was talking about people buying houses with cute animals(deer, elk…) I wasn’t comparing them , at all, to grizzlies. But I am saying that if you move into a house where wildlife surrounds you, expect interactions, or take some precautions. What if it would have been a child? Well that would have extremely tragic. I’d have said the parents should’ve watched their kid….installed a very tall fence…. or NOT moved into areas where moose or bears live. By the way, since you are so big on research…. how many people are actually injured by bears each year? Just an average? You’re more likely to be attacked by your neighbors dog. Do you still want to go into your front yard?

  14. avatar Howard says:

    Just adding another voice to the chorus, thank God the victim survived, kudos to him for his extremely reasonable attitude (anyone who has been through severe trauma has, in my opinion, the “right” to be irrational about the thing that harmed him… though society should still recognize the feelings as irrational and not use isolated tragedies as excuses to act destructively), and may he have a full and speedy recovery.

    I hope it’s not bad form to steer the thread in a slightly different direction, but I had a few questions about grizzly populations in the Northwest. First, does anyone know where the Selkirk grizzlies originally came from? Are they remnants of the original population that survived the predator slaughter in the remote panhandle of Idaho, or are they migrants from Canada or Montana?

    Second, what politically needs to happen—nationally and/or locally– to revive the plan to restore grizzlies to the Frank? As one of the largest blocks of wilderness in the continental US, it’s perfect for grizzlies, and it’s maddening to think that Gale and Dirk killed the proposal forever.

    Three, will grizzly delisting apply to the entire Northern Rockies region, or will some populations remain listed as threatened? Considering that Idaho has under 100 bears in two populations—one isolated— the bruins should not be considered recovered in that state.

    Finally, there is frequently talk of grizzlies (and wolves) in the North Cascades of western Washington. Does anyone know the status there? I’d like to think that some grizzlies and wolves have crossed the border and are beginning the recolonization process, but most of what I’ve read suggests to me that these are mainly animals wandering between the US and Canada that USE the North Cascades more than really “inhabiting” them full time. Any info on this?

    Thanks.

  15. avatar Vicki says:

    Ralph, I just saw an interview with the gentleman who lived as a wolf. He’ll be giving a more indepth one tonight on 20/20. He seemed personable, and likeable. So that was nice…he came across as being intelligent. Sorry to post in the wrong location.

  16. avatar Jay says:

    I’ll give you my take:
    1) My understanding is the Selkirk population is a remnant, not bears that repopulated.
    2) Get a democratic government–the funding was taken away from this by Bushies, and it can be restored with some political will. On a side note, I wouldn’t expect too much from the Frank in terms of support for bears–salmon as a food source is no longer viable, and the Frank, albeit beautiful country, isn’t exactly a smorgasbord for big eaters like grizzlies. The Selway, on the other hand, is some lush country…
    3) the delisting is for the GYE, not grizzlies nationwide
    4) A few years ago, I believe there was some evidence that wolves denned in the North Cascades NP north of Lake Chelan; there’s also been occasional reports of grizzlies as far south as the Methow area, which indicates to me there could be a few bears subisting in the NCNP.

  17. avatar matt bullard says:

    I think I can answer a couple of those questions.

    I don’t know the origin of Idaho’s other grizzly populations. From a political perspective, grizzlies will never be reintroduced into Central Idaho with Kempthorne at Interior. He famously called them “flesh eating carnivores” back in 2000 around the time that plan was killed. I think it would take a new administration (Democrat) as well as some fairly significant changes politically here in Idaho for that to happen.

    The grizzly delisting proposal only applies to the Yellowstone distinct population segment, so Idaho’s other bear populations will still have their currently designated protections.

    I do know that there is research being done to determine the historic use/occupation of the large central Idaho Wilderness by grizzly bears. A researcher I talked to was curious to know just how prolific the bears were in this area prior to human settlement. Part of that is looking at the historical records left by early settlers (of which I believe the record is pretty good) to determine how many interactions those people had with grizzlies (if any) as compared to other predators such as wolves and cougars.

  18. avatar matt bullard says:

    Jay – I think you are correct on the central Idaho habitat not being perfect grizzly habitat, which is what the person I talked to alluded to, and thus his interest in studying its viability as well as his interest in the historical record. The feeling I got from talking with him is that there were not that many human/grizzly interactions from early settlers in what is now the Frank Church Wilderness, but that’s not to say that the area could not support a population, it just might not be as dense a population as the Selway habitat could support…

  19. avatar Howard says:

    Thanks alot for the great info. In particular, I was interested to learn that the Frank is NOT optimal grizzly habitat… my apologies for the inaccuracy. Perhaps when the political climate allows ( I did know that any consideration of grizzly restoration would have to wait for the end of the Bush regime), griz restoration could be contemplated for the Selway.

    Are there other wilderness areas in the West, currently bereft of native grizzlies, that still have the habitat to support a restoration effort?

    Thanks.

  20. avatar Jay says:

    Sorry Howard, I didn’t mean to imply that there couldn’t be grizzlies in the Frank–on the contrary, they could live there, but the food availability would limit the number of bears the area could support. However, the presence of wolves (and lions) back there would definitely be beneficial to grizzlies in that there’d ungulate carcasses to steal or scavenge.

    Unfortunately, anywhere there are grizzlies are about the only places left they’ll likely ever be (barring a reintroduction to Central Idaho, that is). We’ve pretty much gobbled up all the good stuff for ourselves…gotta put those trophy second homes up someplace, right?

  21. avatar matt bullard says:

    I guess it might not be optimal for the density of bears present in Yellowstone (or other more lush areas like the Selway), but it could be optimal for many fewer animals. That being said, it *might* not be optimal for a reintroduction program that relies on the need to have bears reproduce in a manner that could ensure a self-sustaining population. Bears have a low reproductive rate as it is. All this being said, I would like to understand this from a more scientific perspective, as I am really just piecing together snippets of information. The other thing to note is that just because the Frank does not have large populations of salmon would not necessarily disqualify it as good grizzly habitat, since bears are omnivorous and could take advantage of good elk and deer populations, not to mention what I would imagine would be other vegetation food sources…

  22. avatar JEFF E says:

    For those interested click on the link under bears that Ralph has on the top right and look around a little. Has quite a bit of information.

  23. avatar Jay says:

    Yes they’re omnivorous, but deer and elk as prey are only available for a short time in the summer in the form of calves and fawns, or as carrion from winter kill and predator kills. They’re just not predators in the sense that wolves are. I’m sure there are some sources of vegetative food too, but if you’ve been in the Middle Fork, it’s pretty dry, and it’s comprised of a lot of sage, bunch grasses, and trees–not good eating if you’re a griz.

  24. avatar matt bullard says:

    Jay – yes, good points. Thanks!

  25. avatar Jay says:

    Let’s bring a few in and see how they do 🙂

  26. avatar matt bullard says:

    I’ll second that, Jay!

  27. avatar elkhunter says:

    Vicki of course dogs are dangerous, we shot a pit bull in our neighborhood last week cause it killed another dog. I am aware of the dangers of the mountain. I dont live in bear country, my only problem is how you guys always think that you are right 100% of the time, and there is no possible way that anyone that thinks different than you could have an opinion that holds water. thats all. not everyone is an activist. I am used to wild animals around my house, i shoot coyotes all the time near my house, we have had cougars treed in my neighborhood, of course the cat was transplanted then it was right back so it was killed. I am not saying that every bear should be killed, just think outside your activist train of thought sometimes and maybe think that someone besides your special interest group might have a different opinion than you! thats all.

  28. avatar matt bullard says:

    Elkhunter – You are used to wild animals around your house, yet you kill them. That’s an interesting concept.

  29. avatar elkhunter says:

    Matt, mainly just coyotes. I dont really get bothered much by anything else. Plus we get paid $25 a coyote. So we basically shoot them whenever we see them. Its kinda hard to shoot deer in the off-season, you tend to get in trouble.

  30. avatar Vicki says:

    Please don’t assume all hunters are idiots. Some of us believe in conservation. There is a middle ground.

  31. avatar elkhunter says:

    Well said Vicki. Always doin my part!

  32. Elkhunter,

    You talk about shooting so many animals, I’m getting kind of skeptical that there might be some exaggeration going on.

  33. avatar elkhunter says:

    Ralph, really the only animal i hunt alot, is coyotes, a deer and a elk every now and then. Not to much shooting. Just like to get Vicki wound up sometimes. 🙂

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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