Most bears around Jackson Hole have denned

Two faces on the bear situation in NW Wyoming for 2008-

2008 was good for Jackson Hole bears, and there were few conflicts; but grizzlies took a big mortality hit in NW Wyoming overall. Nevertheless, the total grizzly population grew slightly . . . kind of complicated.



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  1. DumOleBob Avatar

    Maybe “most” have denned, but not the one which left the track in the snow just Monday! It is just too early to assume the bears aren’t around!

  2. chuck parker Avatar
    chuck parker

    If the grizzly population continues to grow despite bear mortality being over the limit, I imagine the state and feds will up the mortality limit, and declare a legal hunting season on the “surplus” grizzly.

    Does anyone know why wolf hunting started as soon as wolves were delisted, but there was no hunting season on Yellowstone grizzlies when they were delisted?

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    The state governments flat out hate the wolves, but have come to sort of an accommodation to grizzlies.

    It took a generation for the later to happen. The old politicians had to die off.

  4. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    The Wyoming G&F Department made an attempt to up the post-delisting mortality quotas for males and females in the months before bears were delisted. Thankfully, without success. I would think that any attempt to do so now, based upon some pretty squishy evidence provided by the agencies that bear numbers are up this year despite crossing the mortality threshold–something I’ve seen no evidence for in my time in the field–would face additonal legal challenge. Let’s remember, we have a pending lawsuit against grizzly delisting.

    Wolf hunting seasons did not open upon delisting in March in any of the three states involved. Wolves that were killed in Wyoming were killed in the predatory animal zone under Wyoming’s dual status law. That’s the majority of wolves killed during the window of delisting before Judge Molloy ruled against delisting. Wolves killed in other states were either killed in management actions for livestock depredations or taken illegally.

    As for legal hunting of grizzlies, at least in Wyoming, my understanding is that G&F has been so tied up in wolf politics that there has been no time to come up with a hunting management plan. Also, if I understand the grizzly conservation strategy correctly, the agencies agreed not to hunt bears until mortality stabilized and declined. Obviously, it hasn’t, and with the lawsuit against delisting pending, it would be a waste to devote resources to develop a hunting plan until delisting is decided in the courts.


  5. Jeff Avatar

    I thought you might know this…I feel like I read at one time that grizzlies would not be hunted in Wyoming in the core conservation area, that area being north of HWY 26-287 on the south side of Yellowstone and immediately east of the park. Hunting would take place in the Gros Ventre, Owl Creeks, Winds etc…away from the core area. Any truth to this? I think I read that years ago but I can’t rember when.

  6. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    The way it’s set up conceptually in the existing Wyoming bear management plan is that hunting would occur but be conservative inside the PCA (outside the Parks of course) but that G&F would attempt to manage bears outside the PCA and the 10 mile buffer zone “at low densities,” a term that is undefined, but if you listen to ranchers and most hunters, “low density” means “no density.”

    The critical issue of course is that hunting mortality has to fall within the overall allowable mortality quotas. That’s why just before delisting, G&F tried to get the post-delisting mortality quotas increased, but was turned down.

    In short, the intent is to hunt bears throughout the GYE, but with higher mortality outside the PCA to placate ranchers and many hunters.


  7. Peter Kiermeir Avatar
    Peter Kiermeir

    Number games aside, the tragedy is the 80 individual bears that have been lost – again in numbers: “80”, in words “eighty”! You afford to loose many times more in a year than other countries whole bear population numbers! Way too many! You afford to loose many times more in a year than other countries whole bear population total numbers! Settle back everybody, (quote) one year does not make a trend and, hey, the population is on the rise anyway. So let´s wait for next years statistics!

  8. chuck parker Avatar
    chuck parker

    According to an article in today’s Casper Star Tribune, Wyoming Game & Fish biologist Mark Bruscino said, “If the female mortality threshold is exceeded for two years and-or the male mortality is exceeded for three years, that puts us in a management review. … If that happens, hopefully we avoid a relisting under the endangered species act if we address these things as soon as possible.”

  9. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    So they keep saying it’s probably just “a blip,” not a trend; but the rules don’t allow for much of a trend. One more bad year for females and/or two for males.

  10. chuck parker Avatar
    chuck parker

    Yes, one more bad year for females, or two bad years for males will trigger a “review,” but who knows what that means. A review by agency people who obviously want to keep grizzlies delisted, or a review by independent biologists? And if the “review” panel decides that too many grizzlies are being killed, what are the consequences? Who has the authority to do anything meaningful? Will it just go back to Chris Servheen and the US Fish & Wildlife Service, who led the delisting effort in the 1st place?


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