Wild Bill writes about "Thinking Grizzly" and says "Hunters should do more of it.

Wild Bill’s column in New West.

I should add that so far this year, grizzly encounters of all kinds seem to be way down although their population is not. Much of the credit may go to the good whitebark pine nut crop that appeared in many places.






  1. Mike Post Avatar
    Mike Post

    Please take a look at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s “Bugle” magazine for Nov-Dec which is a special issue dedicated to safely co-existing with grizzlies during hunting seasons. The habituation of the big browns to human hunting activities is well documented whether it is the harmless scavenging of gut piles or the forceful taking of carcasses from hapless hunters.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    This is well documented in the country around Yellowstone (that is outside the Park). Researches have found, and most folks can tell you, that grizzlies migrate out of the Park awaiting the hunt, and to grizzlies the sound of a rifle shot means food.

    The problem has been complicated by some outfitters salting along the border to the Park.

    The southern boundary of Yellowstone is a dangerous place to both hunters and bears, although I think all the gut piles and carcasses taken over by grizzlies has served to build up and strengthen their population.

  3. Carl Avatar

    I read several articles over the years about bears benefiting from gut piles but I’ve never seen anything about wolves using them. I would assume they do. Do bears tend to find them quicker due to there great sense of smell? I’ve seen pine marten, coyotes, raven, crows, fisher, jays and chickadees use deer gut piles here in the east.

  4. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    The refereed research which was published did not find that wolves left Yellowstone to find the gut piles. However, there was only one wolf pack in the area they studied.

    Since then it has become clear that some wolves do leave the Park. The Hellroaring Pack subsisted almost entirely on the remains of the hunt for about six weeks last winter.

    In Idaho where hunting is allowed everywhere, wolves get great benefit from the gut piles and wounded deer and elk. I can’t prove it because no systematic research has been done, but I think it is a major reason why Idaho wolves are so successful — they get a great infusion of nutrition just at the time of the year when the pack needs it the most.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan