State game agency says grizzlies will find something else to eat even though whitebark pine are mostly dead-

State: Bears doing well. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole Daily.

“Game and Fish officials acknowledged that mountain pine beetle activity continues at relatively high levels and many whitebark pine trees have died. But they said bears usually find alternative foods such as deer and elk meat.”

WY G&F fails to note that grizzly bears in the area are already the most carnivorous in North America. They are right, however, there really are other foods, of course. The local landed noblemen will probably object to grizzlies eating the livestock.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

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.

32 Responses to Wyoming Game and Fish: Grizzly Bears doing well

  1. JW says:

    The thing that the states don’t understand is that it is not acceptable to manage bears (and bears) for minimum numbers and minimum range outside of protected areas (like Yellowstone park). Wyoming has already said they aren’t welcome in vast mt. ranges that could support some grizzlies.

  2. pointswest says:

    “Game and Fish officials acknowledged that mountain pine beetle activity continues at relatively high levels and many whitebark pine trees have died. But they said bears usually find alternative foods such as deer and elk meat.”

    You mean whoever said this is being paid with tax dollars? If there was alternative food, bears would already be eating it and have increased their population. It is a very simple equation in nature…less food = less animals.

  3. Doug says:

    “Many of the current human-grizzly bear conflicts reflect continuing increases in grizzly numbers and expansion into areas less suitable for bears,” Rudd said

    Not suitable? Grizzlies can live about anywhere, and they are gonna have to expand out into more ranges, valleys, plains, and canyon areas to expand their numbers. Just not suitable for Wyoming citizens. My god, WY has so much open space, that if not being wrecked by fossil fuel exploration and ranshing, could surley accomodate more grizzlies.

  4. nabeki says:

    I guess what they’re really saying about the grizzlies is “Let them eat cake”.

  5. I think you can pretty well imagine that country where grizzlies are allowed to roam and have some habitat protection would be a more pleasant place for humans to live than where oil and gas companies are allowed to roam at will.

  6. ProWolf in WY says:

    My god, WY has so much open space, that if not being wrecked by fossil fuel exploration and ranshing, could surley accomodate more grizzlies.

    And wolves!

  7. Wyo Native says:


    Where is all this fossil fuel exploration happening at that would be ruining grizzly habitat for future expansion of their population? If you think the Jonah Field or Pinedale Anticline are suitable habitat for grizzly bear you are just plain nuts.


    If it was the case that Wyoming does not want grizzlies out of the park, why in the world were the G&F out in force in the Wyoming Range educating hunters of the newly found population of griz that has been noticed in the Greys River, LaBarge Creek and Middle Piney. They were preaching bear identification to prevent Black Bear Hunters from killing one of them, along with safety precautions for food, carcass prep, and of course bear spray. Hell they even had a sign posted on the Fire watch tower on top of Wyoming Peak. Sure seems like a ton of effort for an agency that doesn’t want the grizz in the area to begin with.

    Wyo Native.

    No one thinks The Mesa west of Pinedale or the Jonah Field further south are grizzly habitat, but it used to be terrific winter range for muleys and the Jackson Hole’s pronghorn herd winters there. They are all getting squeezed out. Ralph Maughan

  8. bob jackson says:

    wyo. native,

    The reason Wyo. G&F is out talking griz is because they get a piece of the pie…..part of the federal endangered species budget for showing their faces at highly visible “education” events. This is about the only reason. The game wardens I knew from Cody-Greybull area hated griz. Griz are “problems” for them, they think. They do not like dropping traditional warden work to trap griz on some FS. lease cabin on the N. Fork. They do not like dropping what they were doing to pack up to ride into outfitter camps to take care of problem griz. They do not like griz because they then do not have as much control of their occupational lives. Get it?…they are not doing this because they sooo care about an animal that they can not set a season on.

    Most of the guys in cody locale Wyo G&F I knew were barn soured. I have no reason to believe it has changed. they rate new wardens coming in as to whether they are “horsemen” and know how to talk dunns, dapples and braided ropes. They wear cowboy boots when it is the worst footwear for the job. Get it?

    What they are doing in ed. for griz is nothing different than Yellowstone did for corraling bison…they get lots of “hard” money and then illegally use it for other purposes. Put in a little “show’ and then budget for that new pickup to get them to those meetings. Put a label on the side of this pickup with some kind of education logo and they then can set in a new well heated pickup …and glass the slopes from the road with their bushnell spotting scopes for some guy shooting an elk with his wifes tag. Get it?

    I never once saw a game warden stake out in the back country. Any camp night over meant all kinds of thoughts and talk of horse camping. It was dream land and keeping track of stock, not keeping tabs on poachers. Catching violators meant depending on tips from others, not initial contact.

    When I skied the late hunt in the Gallatin there was only one warden out of many who ever left their pickup to see what the hunters were doing in the hills.

    Yes, I did see a working warden on occassion but it didn’t take long before the good ole boy wardens made life too miserable for him to stay.

    Sorry I am so cyinical, but thats how I saw it.

  9. ProWolf in WY says:

    Wyo Native, those areas could serve as corridors, maybe not as premanent habitats. I tend to lean more towards the ranching argument. Wyoming has suitable grizz and wolf habitat that they will not allow to be occupied.

  10. Grizzlies moving south into the Salt Rivers and Wyoming Range is just excellent. From there they can move into Eastern Idaho.

    The sheepgrowers certainly won’t like it, but the grizzlies can replace the black bears there too.

  11. ProWolf in WY says:

    Maybe they can make it to Utah some day.

  12. mikepost says:

    No one has addressed the issue of food preference. Every critter has their preferred food and will ignore other good food sources when their preferred food is available. No sense for a bear to be digging out rodents when the stream is full of flopping fat salmon. No sense for a coyote to be chasing rabbits when there is a housecat down the road. Could that be the case in whitebark pine country?

  13. Doug says:

    ProWolf said “Wyo Native, those areas could serve as corridors, maybe not as premanent habitats. I tend to lean more towards the ranching argument. Wyoming has suitable grizz and wolf habitat that they will not allow to be occupied.”

    Exactly! I live in Colorado, and all of the fossil fuel exploration makes it very difficult for a pack of wolves to get to CO, and pretty much impossible for a Grizzly. This is too bad, because suitable habitat exists, and I think a majority of Coloradoans would support these animals presence. If the area south of the Greater YStone ecosystem continues to get torn up, and delisting occurs for grizzlies and wolves at some point again in WY, then they cannot make their way to CO, and UT as well (although better corridors exist to get to UT)

  14. Doug says:

    and yes, the ranching powers that we’ve all acknowledged have a disproportionate and unhealthy control over the political debate in WY do not want to see this happening.

  15. Don Riley says:

    The bears in Wyoming are doing so well that the new “bear proof” food storage containers being allowed on the Shoshone is a Westinghouse! Yup, hook one up to a generator, put a strap around it and it is OK by the forest service. Duh

  16. bob jackson says:


    Are you referring to a frig.? Is the idea of a generator so the bear is shocked…or is it that the feds think the “Westinghouse” is durable enough to withstand bear “attacks”?

    I have seen the sides of motor homes and trailers ripped open and I have seen very old and heavy steeled 55 gallon barrels (circa 1930’s) used for horse oat storage, inside of cabins, that had what happens with the swipe of a griz arm….claws connecting with steel with crushing impact… where one sees these claws starting a rip 2’long…and open these barrels like sardine cans.

  17. josh sutherland says:

    Poor Wyoming Fish and Game… Damned if they do damned if they dont!!

  18. ProWolf in WY says:

    Doug, I could see wolves making it to Colorado much easier than grizzlies. You get too far south of Yellowstone and it turns into a high desert. Wolves have made it but I think if they go there on their own they would have a difficult time. I’m not familiar with the areas along the Utah/Colorado border if those would provide good corridors or not. Grizzles would have to be reintroduced. The other question about wolves would be weather Mexican wolves would be the better choice int he southern part.

  19. Wyo Native says:


    Wolves and their habitat is not the topic I am discussing. I was purely discussing grizzly habitat.

    With that said, which specific area or specific lands are you referring to when you stated “Wyoming has suitable grizz and wolf habitat that they will not allow to be occupied.”

  20. Wyo Native says:


    You are absolutely correct about the loss of wintering grounds on the Mesa for Mule Deer and Antelope. I was referring to ProWolf’s comment “WY has so much open space, that if not being wrecked by fossil fuel exploration and ranching, could surley accommodate more grizzlies.”

    Since almost every single oil and gas well in Western Wyoming has been drilled in areas of the state that consists of almost identical habitat as that of the Mesa and Jonah Field, I was just curious how fossil fuel exploration was wrecking the opportunity to accommodate more grizzlies.

    BTW, I have some pictures from the top of Wyoming Peak that if you are ever interested you could use.

    I’d certainly appreciate some pics from the top of Wyoming Peak that I could put up. I never made further south in the Wyoming Range backcountry than Lunch Box Meadows, as you can probably guess from my photos on Google Earth. Ralph

  21. Wyo Native says:


    I will be the first to admit that I have very limited knowledge of how the wardens and biologist out of Cody, Thermop, etc, act in regards to back country trips. The only warden that I know up there is Craig Sax, and the only reason that I know him is because he was the warden in my area before he transferred to Cody.

    However I have done multiple pack trips into Pacific Creek and on almost every one of those I have witnessed game and fish personnel camping out in the back country during hunting season.

    Also there is a game and fish warden that packs in and camps in Poker Creek at the head waters of Alice Lake for the Elk opener of October 15 since at least 1985. Although the wardens have changed over time they still do the trip. Most of these wardens are either out of Kemmerer or Cokeville.

  22. Wyo Native says:


    Since grizzlies or even wolves would be using the corridors of the Wind River Range or the Wyoming Range to access Colorado, fossil fuel exploration would not be an issue for these animals reaching that destination. There is very little (if any at all) fossil fuel exploration, development, etc, taking place either in the ranges themselves or on the southern edge of the ranges as they turn into high desert.

    The biggest industrial threat to the corridors is actually Wind Farms, like the ones in Uinta County around Evanston and the Bridger Valley, and the proposed farms around Rock Springs on Aspen Mountain.

  23. ProWolf in WY says:

    With that said, which specific area or specific lands are you referring to when you stated “Wyoming has suitable grizz and wolf habitat that they will not allow to be occupied.”

    Mostly more of the Wind Rivers than what it occupied. Possibly the Bighorns.

  24. bob jackson says:

    wyo native

    Craig Sax is one of the what I consider GOOD HARD WORKING Wardens. The ole G&F boys tried to make life miserable for him up there. They didn’t like it he had been selected out of administration for that position, didn’t like it he wore hiking shoes and finally told him not to write so many tickets. And even though the Thorofare was his inherited district they kept him out of there as much as possible. I even heard them ridicule craig to one of the outfitters.

    Yes, Craig was ligit and he is the only one who would get me information as to outfitter sheep spike camps near the Park …or would not actively hinder the east side cases I was working on. He was also the only one who didn’t try to cover up the existence of the multiple illegal salt licks within sight of the G&F cabin in Thorofare.

    I think they were wearing him down by the time I left, however.. He had to think of his daughter and family…and when the boys are putting so much pressure on you one can’t take it forever. He was even forbidden to talk with me is what I heard.

    As for camping I never said the wardens didn’t. I said when they did it was more emphasis on horses than poachers. “Living the life”comes to mind.

    As for Jackson wardens I did not consider all bad but favoritism to certain outfitters even extended to at least one of them trying to find out where I was staking out the S. boundary. This long term warden did a lot of “camping” but he was as corrupt as you can get. Others from Jackson I would turn violators in from their area but depending on who it was I caught I could never get any answers as to outcome…only to find out later they let the guys go because of “not enough evidence”. Any cases from that area (where violations extended out of the Park) I had to turn to a certain FWS agent out of Casper. He was the only one I could trust.

    Your Jackson guys were worse than the Cody wardens. It was the first time in my life I had to think of corrupt cops from Chicago being similar to those in Wyo. G&F uniform. one hope it changes. The Game wardens were suppose to be of the same professional ilk as me. But alas it wasn’t to be so. Do you want more?

  25. bob jackson says:

    Wyo native,

    I need to clarify. There is highly visible patrol and there is patrol where “they” don’t know you are there. Visible patrol for Game wardens means going to camps, checking licenses, creel etc. This is what most private folks see. And if one does it very little, as some rangers did ,they always wanted to be the most highly visible in camps etc. as possible.

    And when I say “barn soured” I need to include the very urgent need for most front country based law enforcement types having the over compelling urge to be around people all the time. So when they “patrolled” the back country what they were really trying to do was rush around being oogled by those they met.

    I would have a little fun on this once in a awhile. Whether it was G&F, park Rangers, park administration or whomever I would try to set joint duties (such as packing supplies with them and subsequent patrol) so we would be as long from other camps and people as possible. Either my company was so unappealing (here is your chance guys to take some shots at me) or they couldn’t take the isolation any longer. They’d break out of the corral, so to speak, and rush away to the camps ….. and it wasn’t law enforcement duties they wanted to do, I can assure you of that. The longer they were away from people the more they blabbered in those camps.

    As for duties, we had one ranger who had been camp boss at one of the larger hunting and fishing outfitter camps out of the Jackson side in a not so much earlier part of his career. He told me he never, in the eight years employeed, had a Jackson warden ever once come into their camp and ask hunters or fishermen for licenses or identification. They ate the pie and talked the talk, but enforcement, no. Private sportsmen, yes, but not those of influence.

    The invisible patrol they should have been doing was getting on the ridges watching who was shooting what. I’d tell them the salts on the line meant the hunter shoots first and the guide second. ILLEGAL!!!! So little of this would have netted good results. But it meant they had to be in place before daylight or coming back in the dark …. and away on foot from a horse that might whinny.

    They also should have been on the mts. above the outfitter camps (same as FS.), dry camping with horses back at the cabin. No fire and be prepared to spend 3-7 days in one place glassing who is bringing game in or capes and skull plates with no quarters later to match it….. and then matching this up with the hunter tags placed on these elk. Never once did I see it happen. In fact I never once saw a game warden hike into the back country for any patrol!!! or get dropped off back there for some serious patrol!!!!

    As for the Park rangers, one of my chief rangers thought others should follow my example and STAKE out. He budgeted for more wall tents etc. Then the barn soured had to go to places like I visited. I even set up their itinerary. but again they couldn’t stay put. It was to the outfitter camps just like the game wardens. Whats worse they would tell these guys where they had been camped. A bunch of yahoos I didn’t want in my country again. Of course the chief was the same way. Always had to be around people.

    In all these cases I say, all they had to be is committed to doing “right”. But to those types it was “living the llife”. Hope that clarifies things Wyo. native.

  26. Doug says:

    Wyo Native, While grizzlies would have a tough time making it south to CO via the high desert regardless of energy exploration, that is the most direct route and I believe how at least some of the wolves made it to CO.
    I do agree with Pro-Wolf that areas like ALL of the Wind River, Wyoming, Bighorns should and CAN accomodate grizzlies, but that is just a matter of public acceptance, I know not an easy matter with WY.
    I also know that WY has done some work with the Wind River reservation regarding grizzlies, but have not read much about that lately… anyone have insight on that? That is a big reservation, and even the lower elevations are compatible for grizzlies and wolves at least part of the year. They do have a lot of ranching, but seem much more open to working pro-actively with wildlife.

  27. Grizzly dispersal to new areas is slower than wolves because griz don’t disperse in an approximately straight line like wolves sometimes do.

    In fact female grizzlies generally set up a territory on the edge of their mother’s, if possible. Males range further, but if one or two males make it to central Idaho from Yellowstone, it will be a curiosity, not the start of a recovery.

  28. Wyo Native says:


    Send me an e-mail (I can’t find your e-mail address on the blog) and I will send you some pictures.


  29. Wyo Native says:


    I think I found your e-mail. Hopefully you get the pics.

  30. Sara says:

    A very good discussion with intelligent comments. Grizzly bears don’t give a damn about human designated boundaries.
    I think all wildlife are under tremendous pressure from all the development and population increase in the inter-mountain west. We are all loving it to death.

  31. ProWolf in WY says:

    We are all loving it to death.

    That is exactly what is happening all over the west.

  32. will says:

    I think it’s funny when people say that fossil fuel exploration affects wildlife. I recently spent a few days prairie dogging and camping in the red desert of wyoming, just north of the colorado wyoming border. The prairie dogs mule deer antelope or elk don’t give a rats behind if there are oil wells and pumps in an area. To these animals oil pumps look like desert trees. I’ve observed antelope elk and deer walk right by them without even looking twice. Even human activity around these pumps is very minimal since everything is pretty much electronically monitered. I observed that you really only see about a half dozen trucks a day even drive by. All this in an area that’s full of natural gas wells and pumps. Grizzly’s if they make it here to Coloardo will most likely use river bottoms to travel here via the creeks and rivers that flow out of the southern wind rivers. If you look at these rivers from google earth you can see some deffinate travel coridors either on the western wyoming line down through Eastern Idaho and nothern utah via Western Colorado. Also southeasterly out of the wind rivers are some river bottoms and small mountains that connect with the medicane bow mountains that flow into Colorado. I believe a few Grizzly’s have already made the despersal trip into Colorado via the routes I mentioned. The CDOW basically calls anyone that see’s a grizzly in Coloarado a liar. They know there’s a few in the San Juans and sawatch mountains. Who can blame them for taking the stance their not here though? The way the feds regulate it makes it better just to say they’re are not here. The way I see it the anti hunting animal groups are so extreme that they actually hurt their own cause. When reintroducing animals they try to shut down all human activity to protect a few animals that will be killed anyway. Which just pisses guys like me off. The reality is that animals get used to people and riding four wheelers and evil snomobiles. These acitivity’s don’t affect wildlife at all I know I live in the mountains. These animals just simply adapt or evolve as some liberal put it. Global warming is a hoax and so is enviornmentalism. People that want to shut access off to public land to save a grizzly don’t know the first thing about grizzly’s. These people just don’t like other people ,and they don’t like noise. Which is fine just keep it to yourself this is still a free country, so if you don’t like being around people just go backpacking and let us freedom lovers enjoy our mountains the way we want to. We don’t need anymore wilderness it’s a really bad idea. It does’nt allow us to properly manage our forests buy cutting them and keeping them healthy. We can watch them go up in smoke though. Which would be fine if they were’nt so overgrown. Grizzly’s don’t like being around alot of people but roads don’t stop grizzly’s from roaming. Just this summer I watched a black bear walk down the center median of a four lane highway near my home as I drove by. I love wildlife, and especially the mystique of the grizzly. Let’s let these animals grow in population, and then lets have a big game hunting season on them so we can enjoy having them even more. Sure a few will get shot by ranchers, and even more will get shot by wildlife officials but who cares. They’re no different then cows grazing in a field. The most important thing we can learn is not to let animals go extinct and to manage them properly.


October 2009


‎"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