Known grizzly bear deaths increase, but it's no crisis

This is another story on the high grizzly mortality rate this year. Known bear deaths increase, but it’s no crisis. By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette.

. . . it’s official line that it’s no crisis unless it happens two years in a row. With the rapidly growing loss of whitebark pine, is there any reason to think next year will not be as bad?






  1. the pineconer Avatar

    Deforestation is one of the facets to blame. More and more grizzlies are loosing their homes, so that we can build our own.

  2. mikarooni Avatar

    I’m still amazed and suspicious about how hunters suddenly stopped carrying/using bear spray and switched to shooting this many bears just as soon as the bear came off the list and these incidents came under local rather federal jurisdiction. Hmmmm…

  3. TallTrent Avatar

    There were serious problems with the rush to delist the Yellowstone area grizzlies. There needed to be stronger protection measures built into the state management plans. For instance the states should have required all communities in the grizzly recovery zone to have bear-resistant garbage containers and make it illegal to have attractants (garbage, food, BBQ grills, bird seeds, etc.) out overnight. The largest single cause of death for grizzlies is management kills of these bears that learn to come into human areas because of these attractants. Some of the communities (i.e. West Yellowstone, Montana) do have such laws in place, but others (i.e. Island Park, Idaho) seem absolutely resistant to the idea though the laws protect people and property as much as the bears. The states should have built these regulations into their management plans or the feds should have required they do so before delisting.

    All threes states should have made it part of the management plan that hunters in the grizzly recovery zone should have been required to carry bear pepper spray in an easily accessible location on their person while hunting. Again, this protects the person as much as the bear and bear pepper spray has been proven time-and-time-again to be the most effective protection against a bear attack. Some think this sort of law is not enforceable, but most people will follow the law just because it is a law. Orange hunting vests met with great resistance, but now everybody wears those.

    With both of these regulations there would have to be a major education campaign to teach people about bear-human conflicts and how to protect them. I believe in education, but I also believe in legislation when it comes to protecting these wild creatures.


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