37 griz killings spark worry

If last year’s high mortality is repeated this year then Greater Yellowstone grizzlies may go back onto the Endangered Species List

Grizzly cub near Pelican Valley ©Ken Cole
Grizzly cub near Pelican Valley ©Ken Cole

37 griz killings spark worry. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Addition 4/10/2009. Rise in grizzly deaths topic of IGBT meeting. Associated Press.


  1. jdubya Avatar

    This was in that PDF below about the planned wolf kills by Idaho Fish and Game. Kinda fits….

    “”Nate Helm, thanked the Department for their outreach to Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife and the availability of staff to answer questions. The large scale habitat project goals and
    ideas are in the works; 10(j) needed for wolf management; Wyoming petition for state delisting; LAP-Access Yes and opportunities for grizzly bear hunting if they were

    Good old SFW, just can’t wait to get a grizz in their sights.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Yesterday, I put up a link to the actual report. Here it is again.

    Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Investigations 2008. PDF file. Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team.

  3. Steve C Avatar
    Steve C

    These rednecks keep shooting themselves in the foot. There will never be an annual hunt of wolves or grizzlies if both species keep getting culled down to endagered species protection levels.

  4. Ryan Avatar

    Steve C.,

    Can you explain your ignorant comment there? Wolves are no where near the trigger levels for ESA listing (still listed though). Grizzly incidents happen, if you read much about the history of grizzly attacks, most happen with habituated un hunted bears. Bears in the GYE area are associating gunshots with free meals which is always a bad thing.

  5. Chuck Parker Avatar

    If Servheen and the Iinteragency Grizzly Bear Committee truly want to get hunters to use bear spray, it’s very, very simple. Show them how. Don’t just tell hunters to “carry bear spray and know how to use it.” Show them how. Make sure there’s an NRA firearms instructor on hand to evaluate safety concerns.

    Here’s the dilemma. Whenever possible, hunters should use the two-hand safe carry. One, it’s the safest way to carry your rifle. Two, the two-hand safe carry is the best way to carry your rifle so you can quickly bring it into action.

    When you’re hunting elk, deer, moose, and other big game, the two-hand safe carry is the best way to carry your rifle. Obviously, it’s also the best way to carry your rifle should you need to use it quickly if you get charged by a nearby grizzly during a sudden encounter.

    If you get charged by a grizzly while you’ve got a rifle in your hands, there’s no way you can use bear spray in a safe, quick manner. Period. Servheen and the IGBC have never demonstrated how to use bear spray in this situation because they know it can’t be done.No firearms instructor is going to tell a hunter to let go of their rifle with one hand and try to use bear spray with their free hand.

    The IGBC should inform big game hunters that if they have their rifle slung over one shoulder when they have a sudden encounter with a grizzly, they will not have time to use it.

    Given these facts, it’s unrealistic to think that hunters are going to use bear spray.

    One final fact the IGBC should give to hunters. The have been two studies on bear spray; neither study includes any data on firearms. Both studies focus exclusively on bear spray use. Bear spray research proves that bear spray can be effective for hikers and other non-hunters who don’t have a rifle in their hands.

    Most people who claim that research shows bear spray is more effective than a firearm have not read the research. One exception to that is Chris Servheen, who wrote the oft-quoted US Fish and Wildlife Service “fact sheet” on “bear spray vs. firearms.” Servheen claimed that Herrero’s 1998 research on bear spray showed that bear spray is better than bullets. That’s a flat out lie. Herrero’s 1998 study on bear spray was all about bear spray. It did not include any data on firearms.

    The 2008 study on bear spray in Alaska by Tom Smith and Herrero does not include any data on firearms. If you doubt that, try reading it. It’s all about bear spray.

    Herrero and Smith are working on a study about firearms. It has not been peer-reviewed and published yet.

  6. Linda Hunter Avatar

    Chuck Parker; you have outlined this problem before on the blog. You are very good at describing the problem but since you have spent so much time thinking about it, have you got a solution? It seems like you don’t advocate the killing of bears, just that it is impossible to carry a rifle and use pepper spray, and as I recall, you are the inventor of the term “pepper spray cult”. If in fact, you don’t advocate bears being killed needlessly, what other solution do you see to 54% of grizzly bear fatalities being due to hunting practices?

  7. Ryan Avatar

    I’d be interested to see the incident reports behind the all of the bear killings. As for the bear spray thing, chuck hit the nail on the head. Its really hard to throw down a perfectly good rifle and grab bear spray when your out hunting. There was a story this year about a bow hunter that got mauled and killed the bear with a bow with pics and all. With many bears becoming habituated to stealing hunters kills (happens on Kodiak island as well) It’d be interesting to see how things progress.

  8. Chuck Parker Avatar

    Linda–I’m not happy about all the grizzlies being killed by big game hunters. I think it’s often thrill kills that hunters claim were bears killed in defense of life. But there are legit cases where hunters kill grizzlies in self-defense. I don’t have a problem with that.

    I’ve never said that hunters kill bears “needlessly.” That’s an assumption the bear spray cult makes based on the premise bear spray is an alternative to a firearm for hunters who get charged after surprising a nearby grizzly bear. I disagree. It’s a false premise.

    I’d say the “problem” is too many dead grizzlies, and the solution is to look at situations we can change. Five grizzlies killed because they were mistaken for black bears? That’s a disgrace. Bears killed because of conflicts with cattle on public land? You’ve got to be kidding. Etc.

    Bear spray is not the answer to hunters killing grizzlies in self-defense. But there are realistic answers to other problems leading to grizzly bear deaths. Focus on those.

  9. Mike Avatar

    Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again this season. Otherwise I think pushing the hunting season back would be on the table.

  10. Ryan Avatar

    I don’t think so mike, that proposal has a snowballs chance in hell. I grew up in grizzly country and distinguishing them from a black bear is rather easy, what programs do the States have in place with regards to bear identification?

  11. Craig Avatar

    If you shoot a Grizzly thinking it’s a Black Bear you have no business hunting! A lot of these have been from people back East.
    I understand in “some” situations with low light ect they can’t tell. But if you are not 100% sure don’t shoot, it’s as simple as that.
    If I see an Elk in thick brush I sure as hell don’t shoot first and see if it’s a Bull or Cow after! Hunters need to me more responsible and need to be punished more harshly for being ignorant in the field!

  12. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    Both Montana(mandatory) and Wyoming have bear identification test(voluntary) that taken before a hunter can secure a bear tag, as far as I know, Idaho has no such requirement, but does participate in programs to educate hunter on identification through pamphlets and brochures.

    That said, there is no excuse for mistaking a bear, if your in doubt of your target, you stand down and don’t shoot..period.

  13. Ryan Avatar

    “If I see an Elk in thick brush I sure as hell don’t shoot first and see if it’s a Bull or Cow after! Hunters need to me more responsible and need to be punished more harshly for being ignorant in the field!”


    I completely agree, ODFW and OSP do a pretty good job of prosecuting people in OR. I think it needs to be done across the board. I can see how mistakes happen, but if the consequences are high enough then the people will be more careful. Just out of curiosity what was the residency status of the mistaken bear killers?

  14. Chuck Parker Avatar

    Ryan–MT, WY, and ID fish & game dept. all have decent grizzly vs. black bear id programs.

    I’m not sure what you mean by grizzly country. There are grizzlies in Montana and Alaska, but that doesn’t mean an environmentalist from Los Anchorage has any more experience with grizzlies than an accountant in Omaha, Nebraska. A pharmacist from Cincinnati might have as much first hand experience with grizzlies as a website developer from Kalispell. It ain’t like grizzly bears are strolling the streets of downtown Kalispell. Or Cincinnati.

  15. Craig Avatar

    Save bears: Idaho only prints pictures of a Grizzly and Black bear side by side describing the differences in the Hunting regs saying know your target. But we have so many out of state people moving here who have not hunted, I think it should be mandatory to take a class. Same goes for Moose, so many Moose are shot each year with idiots thinking they are Elk.

  16. Ryan Avatar

    True Chuck, but that being said being in places where Grizzlies are actually present raises your chances of knowing the difference. I grew up in AK and was a remote fishing guide on the AK peninsula for a couple of seasons. I’ve hunted both species, I guess technically all three Browns, Grizzlys, and Black bears. I’d be willing to bet I’ve had more bear encounters than the vast majority of people, I’ve never felt the need to shoot one out of self defense, there a relatively predicitable creature. I never ended up taking a grizz or a brownie as it wasn’t a huge goal of mine. I’ve take a few blackies over the years with only a few skulls and some full freezers to show for it. (they are definately tasty)

  17. Chuck Parker Avatar

    Ryan–where on the AK Peninsula? I used to go fishing by Lake Iliamma, but it got more crowded every year, people were careless with food, and there were brown/grizzlies around so I quit going. Accident waiting to happen and I didn’t want to be part of it.

  18. Ryan Avatar

    I did day trips on wolverine creek, Kuskitan, Chuit, and big river. I also did the nush, alaganek, and egigik. The worst bear incidents I ever had were on the Russian river, I called it about 6 years back when the last major attack occured. It continues to get worse there as the bears are extremely habituated and get agressive during the first sockeye run.

  19. Linda Hunter Avatar

    Thank you Chuck for your reasonable answer. I can agree with what you say about bear spray in the case of a hunter truly in a self defense situation, but what I don’t understand yet and perhaps I won’t is that in tracking bears I probably exhibit the same general behavior as a hunter, but in my experience it takes a lot to get a bear to charge you. (maybe I just look scary) I have seen tracks and sign that indicate that people often walk close by bears without knowing it when they are in a daybed for instance. It is the number of encounters which makes me wonder what is going on with hunters that doesn’t go on with others? I also have no problem with a hunter who kills a bear in a legitimate case of self defense. What I guess I can’t understand is why there are so many of those and what guidelines are used to tell if is truly a necessary defense of life and property. When a bear gets killed in this situation what kind of an investigation happens? Is there a way that we can tell which hunters did a thrill kill and claimed DLP? Do game officers go to the scene and track the story on the ground? I think you have a good point that requiring hunters to carry pepper spray is not the best answer to this particular problem.

  20. Linda Hunter Avatar

    Ryan . wolverine creek? what years? I probably would recognize you if you were there between 2002 and 2005.

  21. chuck parker Avatar
    chuck parker

    Gotta give Chris Servheen credit for being a treacherous bugger and setting up a great anti-hunter, pro-bear spray dog and pony show in Bozeman on April 15th. When the Yellowstone division of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee met on Nov. 12, 2008, the public comment period was 15 minutes. Servheen has set aside 2 hours!!! for public comments on April 15. He’s probably sent engraved invitations to the Sierra Club, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, and other enviro groups asking them to attend on the 15th and demand that big game hunters in the Yellowstone region be required to carry bear spray.

    Very clever.

  22. Cobra Avatar

    You probably already know that maybe 99 out of 100 bears will turn tail and run, but there is that one that we can’t seem to explain why he or she reacted the way they did. I’ve lived in Alaska and while I was there never had a problem with any of the grizzlies there. I’ve also lived in Colorado and For the last 20 years Norh Idaho. I’ve had some pretty scary encounters in both states with the black bears. Archery season last year I came head to head with a sow and two cubs at about 15 – 20 feet, she started huffingand woofing and jumping upand down on her front feet and poping her teeth, even with all this I could tell that she did not really want to attack. Th only bear I ever shot was in full charge and there is no mistaking a full on charge. I really think a lot of the bears killed by the hunters may have been in the bluff mode, however there is a lot of difference between grizzlies and blacks and I’ve never been charged by a Grizzlie so it’s hard to say. It would be interesting though to find out at what distance these charging bears were shot at.

  23. mikarooni Avatar

    The answers are simple. Relist the bears and close hunting in the areas where the bears are trying to recover. Which is more important, saving wildlife or enabling a few illbred knuckleheads their “sporting” opportunities?

  24. Ryan Avatar


    I’m a tall white guy with a shaved head who taught pukers how to floss reds in the lake out of a boat :). I only did about 10 trips to Wolverine creek on sundays and mondays in 04 when I wasn’t guiding on the Kenai. Its a really neat place, but I’d be lieing if I told you that bear viewing/fishing trips were my favorite thing. Chasing Kings and hige bows are what really gets me going.

  25. Ryan Avatar

    The answers are simple. Relist the bears and close hunting in the areas where the bears are trying to recover. Which is more important, saving wildlife or enabling a few illbred knuckleheads their “sporting” opportunities?


    We need to end hiking in these areas as well as Hikers have been known to kill bears in self defense. Also we should close the roads as many bears have been killed in Vehicle accidents as well.


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

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