Grizzly bear was wounded by bullets. How badly?

For the second time this month a grizzly bear and hunters have had a confrontation over an elk shot in the Idaho elk archery hunt.  Unlike the last incident where the bear bit a hunter and ran off, this time the hunters apparently fired numerous bullets at the bear which ran off wounded, and might be a danger to humans if discovered. Our earlier story.

Details are still coming in, but while there are always grizzlies in the Island Park area of Idaho, just west of Yellowstone Park, two elk hunt incidents so quickly might mean the bears are very hungry and counting more on the elk hunt to get calories than in the past.

Many sources of food for the grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone area have collapsed and, of course, it has been a very droughty year.  Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar has insisted food is no problem for the grizzlies despite these short and long term adverse changes, and it needs to be taken off the threatened species list in the Greater Yellowstone Area. Conservation groups mostly disagree with this assessment, viewing the Secretary as a very unfortunate Obama nomination, who will fortunately be gone regardless who wins in 2012.

Story in the Idaho Statesman. Wounded grizzly bear in Idaho could pose danger. By Keith Ridler. Associated Press.
Update. Idaho officials fail to find wounded grizzly bearBy  Keith Ridler. Associated Press.

The wounded bear hasn’t been found and the blood trail soon stopped, leading to speculation the bear was not critically wounded.  The Fish and Game investigators found yet another grizzly bear on the elk carcass when they arrived to look for the wounded grizzly.  It looks to me that there might be an unusual number of bears in the Idaho woods this year looking for elk meat.

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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.

179 Responses to Another Island Park grizzly-claiming-a-shot-elk incident (update)

  1. RobertR says:

    While bowhunting in the back country yesterday I ran onto several bear scat piles but it did not keep me from cow calling for elk. First off I’m not afraid of bears and have had many encounters but I am prepared with spray but would never use it unless in desperation.
    What is noticeable is the lack of pine cones and or pine nuts and the vegetation is no longer green for a bear and it don’t look like the rotten trees being tore up has much for ants or grubs. For the lack of avaiable food sources bears will take advantage of any food and the sound of an elk call with the scent of blood is a dinner bell for a bear and couple that with scavenger birds and any predator will be there.

  2. Salle says:

    I’m moving my response to this thread because it is pretty much all I have to say about it and I hope that it serves as food for thought for others…

    “Schmidt said an archery elk hunting season is open in the area, with many archery hunters taking part. He said the elk that the five hunters were retrieving had likely been killed by an archery hunter.

    He said it appeared the hunters fired at the bear with a shotgun and several handguns, but no rifle. He said he didn’t have details on the size of the bear.

    “I think the situation is they had an elk that was down, and they probably gathered a few guys to go in and help bring it out,” he said.”

    Okay, a few things that I see need some attention.

    A) It’s the time of year when bears are looking for all nutrient dense food they can find (hyperphagia) and we have people out killing things they consider nutrient dense food. In a year where, in most places, food has been pretty scarce for most wildlife is it too hard to consider that this might be a common occurrence and that there might be some adjustments made on behalf of the wildlife for once?

    B) So these guys just start blasting away at a bear that is attempting to claim the dead elk instead of backing off or using pepper spray (they should have left the scene instead of initiating a melee on the bear.)

    C) Why is it that they expect the bear to give them right of way to something that has been lying there dead and unattended for however long? In the “bears’ book of rules” it’s finders keepers when it comes to a big dead elk lying there waiting to be eaten.


    I wonder when wildlife “managers” will come to realize that just because people want to go hunting for a specific species that all the other species will not automatically comply with what the humans want and expect, like those who expect that predators in particular should automatically fear humans or suffer death for not living up to the expectations of the humans.

    I suggest that in such circumstances as this, where bears or other predator(s), come along in the absence of the hunter and claim the killed animal, the hunters should give deference to the predator and the human can go find another elk or whatever. If you need to get another tag, go get one… the F&G should consider such events and allow for such adjustments. Even if the hunter doesn’t get another elk or whatever, they would have a good hunting story to tell. My rationale tells me that this would be a reasonable component of the concept of “fair game”. Common sense, folks. When you go fishing and some bigger fish comes up and eats the fish on your line do you just whip out the guns and start blasting away? Or if flyfishing and an Osprey or Eagle comes up and grabs the fish on your line, even for C&R, do you just whip it out and start blasting? Honestly.

    • Dude, the bagman says:

      I had some similar thoughts when I read this story.

      A) Ha ha. What you say makes total sense, but good luck explaining it to the local populace who probably have a lot invested (monetarily and emotionally) in their hunting prowess. “So ya mean that the bears and wolves get to eat the elk and not my kids?”

      B) Agreed, but what do you think has more de facto legal protection – grizzly bears looking for a snack in ID or black teenagers looking for a snack in FL gated communities?

      C) Funny. I had a similar conversation last week. While eating dinner in camp, my friend asked me what I’d do if a food-conditioned black bear wandered into our camp and made for our food bags.

      I decided that I’d try to scare the thing off by making noise (I need to buy more pepper spray), but that I couldn’t blame the bear because BEARS HAVE A COMPLETELY EGOCENTRIC CONCEPT OF PROPERTY RIGHTS.

      The bear probably just wouldn’t understand why I was standing in its way when it was so hungry. After all, the bear earned the food – it smelled it from a long way away, then walked toward us to “discover” the source of the delicious smell. My receipt would mean nothing to the bear, because bears don’t read, do math, or understand capitalism.

      Unlike the bear, I do understand that I can use money to obtain more food after I get back to town. I damn well wouldn’t just start shooting the bear for its ignorance as part of some territorial pissing match. We settled our place in the food chain a long time ago. No need to play pioneer to stroke my ego.

      * Disclaimer – nothing in this post is intended as anti-hunter. It’s intended as anti-machismo.

      • Dude, the bagman says:

        However, I wasn’t in these particular folks’ shoes, and the story isn’t all that specific.

        The story doesn’t say if they had found the carcass and attempted to reclaim it from the bear, or if they just got close to it and were charged. We don’t really know what happened.

        I can’t say that rational thought would triumph if I were actually charged by a grizzly at short range.

        But in the spirit of armchair quarterbacking, the story would have ended better if they’d used pepper spray rather than bullets for bear protection. Hopefully other people can vicariously learn and apply that lesson.

        • Nancy says:

          “But in the spirit of armchair quarterbacking, the story would have ended better if they’d used pepper spray rather than bullets for bear protection. Hopefully other people can vicariously learn and apply that lesson”

          Dude – the story would of ended even better if these hunters had been prepared to haul out the elk they’d shot, regardless of the hour, instead of just thinking NO predator, in a land of predators (especially BIG predators) wouldn’t happen upon it and lay claim. I mean come on…. its a fricken, freebie meal!!

          And speaking of “free” meals:

          Course Trader Joe’s just hit the FDA’s hit list of contaminated foods this week with their peanut butter:

          • WM says:


            ++…the story would of ended even better if these hunters had been prepared to haul out the elk they’d shot, regardless of the hour,…++

            Let me see, bloody elk quarter strapped to a hunter’s back while stumbling thru the dark. Yeah, right Nancy – sounds like a good way to troll for a grizzly, for somebody dumb enough to do it. And, what do you do, just sprinkle a little pixie dust and a half dozen helpers appear instantaneously to assist, with frame packs and a can of bear spray each? Geez.

            • Nancy says:


              Lots of sites out there WM on packing out the remains of a hunt but few that address leaving “it” out there til one can actually get their sh*t together to pack it out before the “locals/wildlife” lay claim…

            • WM says:


              You see much on that link with folks packing out an animal at night? What I saw was folks talking about using horses, and I don’t know anybody stupid enough to try to take an elk out in the dark on a horse, if one is lucky enough to even have one.

              A number of elk/deer are taken late in the day, which can prevent getting it out before dark. Most folks are lucky enough to maybe get it skinned, and possibly quartered and even possibly up in a tree, with a little help (alot of the time that isn’t even available). Otherwise, some kills lay out over night, of necessity. If an animal claims it, so be it, as it is one of the risks present.

              We don’t know what the full story is here, but there sure are alot of armchair quarterbacks, especially nobody who has ever been in the situation having to make real decisions. We see alot of that here, and usually the most damning and critical opinions are by those who don’t know jack shi_ about what they are talking about.

            • Salle says:

              Otherwise, some kills lay out over night, of necessity. If an animal claims it, so be it, as it is one of the risks present.

              And therein lies the rub. This group wasn’t willing to accept one of these “risks”.

              And could you be just a tad less condescending? You make assumptions that folks don’t know anything when you have no clue as to what they do or don’t know… unless you’re some kind of super-human powered entity. Some folks don’t have the articulation skills that everyone might anticipate, especially when it comes to expressing their thoughts on issues that incite a sense of passion. And with all your bluster, perhaps it’s a cover for your lack of knowledge… just sayin’.

            • Mike says:

              ++Let me see, bloody elk quarter strapped to a hunter’s back while stumbling thru the dark. Yeah, right Nancy – sounds like a good way to troll for a grizzly, for somebody dumb enough to do it++

              The entire thing is trolling for grizzlies.

              Dressing in camo, hiding in brush, making elk calls, smelling like an elk, shooting an animal (that usually runs off wounded because hunting is rarely a quick death for the prey) are all activities that are in essence, deliberate trolling for grizzly bears.

            • Immer Treue says:

              More or less what happened to the fellow couple years ago, packed out what he could and returned on horseback with a friend and the place was crawling with wolves, and I believe a grizzly was also associated with the kill. Big to do at that time because of the wolves.

            • WM says:


              ++And could you be just a tad less condescending? You make assumptions that folks don’t know anything when you have no clue as to what they do or don’t know++

              The interesting thing, Salle, is that as much posting as some do here, you can get a pretty good idea about who is more factually knowledgeable, and who is just blowing smoke on some topics, like Chicago Mike for example.

            • Nancy says:

              “A number of elk/deer are taken late in the day, which can prevent getting it out before dark”

              Then maybe its time, given the fact that attacks like this seem to be on the rise in the last few years, to think twice about shooting an elk or deer if there’s no time to pack it out before dark.

            • Dude, the bagman says:


              “We don’t know what the full story is here, but there sure are alot of armchair quarterbacks, especially nobody who has ever been in the situation having to make real decisions.”

              I’m not sure if that was directed toward me or not. The only thing I was second-guessing was their choice to use pistols and a shotgun to defend themselves against bears. If they’d CHOSEN to use pepper spray, there wouldn’t be a wounded bear roaming the woods during hunting season. A person can always carry both (I often do).

              Otherwise, I understand that things in the woods don’t always go according to plan. Game animals don’t always die in convenient places according to your preferred timeframe after you’ve chosen to take a shot.

              I don’t fault the hunters for leaving the elk once it got dark.

              However, their conscious choice in what they brought for bear protection did result in a wounded bear roaming in the woods. The guns may have made them feel more secure, but resulted in a more dangerous situation for themselves and others. There are statistics regarding the efficacy of pepper spray to back that up.


              Not bluster. Facts.

            • WM says:


              ++ If they’d CHOSEN to use pepper spray, there wouldn’t be a wounded bear roaming the woods during hunting season. ++

              I agree. One would think they might have learned a lesson – a hand gun is not the right choice for dealing with a grizzly. Pepper spray might be a first choice (everybody should have been carrying, and maybe someone with a heavier caliber rifle or a second shot gun might have been a good backup. And, yeah, I am armchair quarterbacking, in the hope that the bear might have been spared, learning a lesson in the process (maybe even this crew would have learned one with a good outcome).

              Now, all these a-holes will have is a good story to tell at the local bar, or we might see a “we almost died” story in Bugle or some hook and bullet magazine.

          • SAP says:

            Seriously, WM? Anybody who packs out game meat in the dark on horses or mules is “stupid”?

            Happens all the time. The equines don’t really care that it’s dark. I won’t do it without a partner and plenty of lights, but it happens all the time.

            I never leave game in the woods overnight without dragging the quarters in at least two different directions from the gutpile, on the theory that a bear will go for the gutpile first, and if the quarters are a safe distance away, you might get to keep those.

            • WM says:


              One can’t always predict exactly where an animal will go down (archery hunters mostly). I wasn’t so much thinking of just the horse, even if it is experienced in packing meat.

              My thoughts came from the perspective that most folks would value their animals, gear and themselves (I expect you know what its like to lead a horse while on foot thru a quickly brushed out trail threading your way through timber) and prefer to pack in the daytime. I have had enough experience going thru timber, deadfall and/or on steep slopes during daytime to believe its not smart (stupid, if you will) to do it at night, if it can otherwise be avoided.

              On the other hand, packing in open country, or on a well maintained FS trail on flat ground that had been brushed out to above head hight for a mounted rider and wide enough to permit a horse with a couple of quarters strapped on to a pack saddle or accomodating a couple panniers is pretty doable.

            • WM says:


              Sorry, last sentence should read and continue:

              ….is pretty doable AT NIGHT. But, then what happens if you do encounter a grizzly on the trail, or your horses get a good whiff of one in the dark? Picking up the pieces of your gear scattered the next 1/2 mile and rounding up stock, is easier when it’s light. LOL

              I was up on the Hoback in WY years ago and wound up coming out in the dark, on a good trail, through some creek bottom willows and it got the horses pretty spooked, and consequently scared the crap out of us. Noises from a large animal, crashing about in the darkness – just turned out to be a moose. I would just prefer not to be on horseback at night.

            • SAP says:

              After an unfortunate series of back-to-camp at 10 PM days over in the Absaroka this month, I totally agree. I would much rather get back and untack with a little daylight.

              Be that as it may, if you can get stock to a carcass and have someone to help keep an eye on things, I’d rather get the meat out of the woods ASAP. So would most outfitters. Experienced animals are an absolute must. In the dark in some jackstraw hell with a bear out there is no time to be teaching a young packhorse how to haul fresh meat.

            • SEAK Mossback says:

              I am pretty much over moose hunting, but if I went again I would probably take along my 3 1/2 lb. portable electric fence (powered by 2 D-cells) and set it around whatever had to be left overnight. I wouldn’t have great faith, but I think it would potentially work better than anything else. When I bought it years ago, the online site had a video clip of the fence set up in the enclosure at the Grizzly Discovery Center in West Yellowstone with a bag with meat or something else very attractive not far from one side. One bear really wanted it but would not touch the fence, so it carefully dug a fairly deep trench under the lowest strand and laid down in the trench and stretched out and snagged the bag with its claws, pulling it out of the enclosure without ever touching it.

        • GrizzlyHunter says:

          Well-stated, Dude. I agree completely. Bear spray should be required to be carried by anyone in grizzly country, including hunters. Research shows that it is a lot more effective than firearms against a charging grizzly.

      • Luger says:

        Was this really necessary?
        B) Agreed, but what do you think has more de facto legal protection – grizzly bears looking for a snack in ID or black teenagers looking for a snack in FL gated communities?
        Salle couldn’t have been more correct in his assessment of the situation, and although you seem to agree, you just had to add your little dig, didn’t ya?

        • Dude, the bagman says:

          Probably not necessary. Probably not in good taste either. Regardless, I amused myself with that one. So yes, I did have to add my own little dig.

          However, I think the point is valid. If we don’t require a “duty to retreat” from potentially violent human beings, I don’t see it a duty to retreat being applied to grizzly bears.

      • Mike says:

        ++* Disclaimer – nothing in this post is intended as anti-hunter. It’s intended as anti-machismo.++

        One in the same.

        • rork says:

          Thanks for clarifying your mental simplicity.

        • Dude, the bagman says:

          “One in the same.”

          Nah. Plenty of folks just want the meat. But there are those who get off on the killing, too. And then there are those in between.

  3. WM says:

    No value judgement here, it is just that more grizzly bears in more places with more people = more incidents that are bad for the bears and maybe some of the people (injured, killed or cited for breaking the law that applies to bears). Get used to it.

    • Ralph Maughan says:


      There are grizzly bears in more places in the Greater Yellowstone than previously, but I think their numbers are no longer growing and probably sliding downward.

      The ecosystem has less food per acre now than it used to.

      We can argue about specific conflicts, bear deaths, etc., but I think behind it all is less food means fewer bears. This will happen slowly or fast depending what we (collectively) “decide” to do and what happens to the climate as well.

      • SAP says:

        AND . . . let me go ahead and predict what a certain bureaucrat’s response will be. The person will argue that the ONLY possible interpretation of this and other conflicts is that there are plenty of bears, by golly, and this is just another indication that the population has fully recovered and is inarguably “sustainable” and/or “viable.”

        And in order to maintain “tolerance” of this inarguably recovered and viable population, we need to let the good gentlemen of IP off the hook when they have these kind of conflicts.

        Yep, no other possible interpretation, nothing needs to be done other than get em delisted post haste. We’re Men of Science, you see. Those of you lacking official-looking outfits with the requisite legitimizing patches on the shoulders, please: don’t worry yer pretty little heads with questions about population viability or the future. If you’d like, hold a little bear festival for the kids or go adopt a highway on behalf of grizzies, but it will only do harm for you to involve yourself in higher-level questions about viability and “social tolerance.” It will only do harm (hint hint).

        Ideally, me writing this will save someone a lot of time when he gets to work on Monday morning. Hey, no need to thank me — happy to help!

        • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

          I was briefed on this incident yesterday and am withholding comments until I have more facts. I will be with Upper Snake Region staff the next three days in Island Park. If folks are still interested in discussing what actually occured, I will provide a more detailed accounting Wednesday or Thursday.

          • Nancy says:

            “I will provide a more detailed accounting Wednesday or Thursday”

            Mark – I’m still curious about what happened with the Appleby/Pitman account/incident, over here in Montana back in 2010.

            Appleby & Benedict shot an elk, packed out the important stuff (head & horns) and then Appleby and another friend, Pitman, returned the next day to find a handful of wolves had found their leftovers.

            And then all hell broke lose.

            What actually happened from that point on, had a lot of people, who hike and are around wolves in the wild, no doubt scratching their heads in amazement.

            One hunting site’s “account” of the day:


            “If those horses didn’t tell us, they would have been on us in 3 seconds. The closest I have ever been to being food for a predator”

            Not to re-visit, but are these “mighty hunters” still serious about that claim as they shot and killed a wolf retreating from a dead elk, they’d left behind?

            • elk275 says:


              Mark is in Idaho and this happen in Montana. I read both of their statements on the link provided. It appears after having lunch they quartered the elk up and started loading the meat on the horse/horses. One bull elk is more than one horse should carry unless it is totally boned out or were they going to pack two horses and take turns riding one horse.

              In the middle of loading the horse/horses a pack of wolves keyed in on the meat and had little fear of either man or horse. The wolves got the horses scared and the partially loaded horses spooked. With the horses spooked and the wolves refusing to leave and the howling, things compounded very quickly. The two men were occupied trying to control there horses and the wolves refused to leave after several pistol shots in the air.

              Were the wolves curious or were hell bent on taking the meat or did they have the capacity to attacked the horses and men. We will never know. Unless someone has been there do not judge these men. I have been in similar situations several times. Both of these men did nothing wrong dodo happens.

          • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            I think the facts of this incident are pretty clear by now. A successful archery elk hunter returned the morning following his kill, with four friends to retrieve the bull elk he killed. This is in the Chick Creek drainage, a small tributary to the Buffalo River, tributary to the Henrys Fork River near Last Chance. This is a popular recreation area with many summer and permanent cabins and homes. The retrieval party was armed with a shotgun and several heavy caliber handguns for bear protection. As they approached the kill site, they were charged at very close range by a grizzly bear. Between 12 and 16 shots were fired at the bear at close range. They reported that the bear fell, then ran away, leaving a blood trail. The incident was reported. A response team of IDFG officers and USFWS personnel went in first thing the following morning (Sunday). They flushed a bear from the kill, which was completely buried in forest debris by a bear. There was not way to determine if that bear was the wounded bear. They followed a faint blood trail for approximately 400 meters before losing the blood trail. They were unable to locate the bear after an extensive effort and called off the search. Since then, there has been no additional observations or reports of a wounded bear. It is a strong likelyhood that the bear was mortally wounded and is now dead.

            • Ralph Maughan says:

              Thank you for the update, Mark.

              If they flushed a bear off the kill when they investigated the incident last Sunday and don’t know if that was the “wounded” bear, and, secondly, haven’t seen any more sign (blood trail after 400 meters) of any “wounded” bear, I can’t see how it can be said that bear is now probably dead? The wound might have been minor and the bear, not bleeding much about 400 meters, just kept going; or alternatively it might have been the bear flushed off the elk on Sunday by the investigators?

            • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

              Ralph – valid points, valid questions. We do not know what the fate of the bear is at this point. It is speculation to say that the bear died; it would be speculation to say that the bear is alive. The bear was wounded by one or more of 12-16 rounds fired from a shotgun and large caliber handguns at close range. The volume of blood in a blood trail is often indicative of the severity of a wound, but not always. That many rounds fired at close range, by five separate shooters – is very likely to cause a serious wound. None-the-less, the evidence is inconclusive and we do not know for certain if the bear is dead or alive or if the bear flushed from the elk carcass the following morning is the same bear.

            • JEFF E says:

              anybody that has any experience with shooting knows that how many rounds that have been sent down range means exactly squat. A hand gun is notoriously hard to shoot accurately in high stress situations and nothing in the accounts say any of the individuals involved had any training much less actual experience in such a situation. Now the shotgun is a different story but was it loaded with slugs or….
              Ether way a grizzly coming at you at full charge is/ would be unnerving to say the least. First it sounds like these fine fellows were naive at best because they just marched right up to the area with out as much as throwing a rock ahead to see what would happen. or have bear bells, or bear spray.
              Anyway, we could go on and on but to cut to the chase;

              to come out from a position of authority and say that the a wounded grizzly bear is probably dead is an incredibly naive and stupid statement to make.

              I tell you what, why don’t you grab Clem and the two of you go right on up and confirm that hypothesis.

        • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

          SAP –
          Perhaps with a little less panache: Grizzly bear production in the GYC core recovery area continues to be strong, despite concerns about diminishing white bark pine stands and potential implications for the viability and sustainability of the GYC grizzly bear population. Strong production, excess to replacement “need” for the core population drives expansion of the population into areas like Island Park where human-grizzly bear conflicts will continue. This thread started with Mike’s comment, in effect, that the forest belongs to grizzlies; that humans should get out of their way in the fall. My point of response was/is that such an unrealistic expectation for areas heavily used by society – for a variety of highly valued human activities – will ultimately erode public support for grizzly bear conservation.

          • Ralph Maughan says:

            I am frustrated by comments from some readers about grizzlies in Island Park when they are not familiar with its heavy and casual recreation use and the large number of summer homes.

            However, any wildlife manager or hunter who supposes that grizzlies will not come out of the Park or wherever when the elk hunt is on is foolish.

            It has to be underscored that this is a drought year. I have to wonder how much wildlife of all kinds will die in Idaho this winter in the vast burned areas and/or where forage dried up or was eaten by cattle months ago.

            • Salle says:

              “My point of response was/is that such an unrealistic expectation for areas heavily used by society – for a variety of highly valued human activities – will ultimately erode public support for grizzly bear conservation.”

              I disagree with you on that point. This attitude only reinforces the ever increasing selfishness and specie-centrism of a society in decline. It shows how little interest the state has in a properly educated public. It also illustrates how some well articulated education could go a long way in making everyone’s “job” (like Mark’s) and recreational interests less controversial and beneficial for everyone, that being humans and flora/fauna. The days of ignorance by choice (or design) are over.

          • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

            Salle –
            My comment doesn’t express an “attitude”, it recognizes political and social reality. In our country, wildlife conservation (defined by diverse objectives, chosen by society) will ONLY succeed if the American public, at the state and national level, support those objectives and are willing to make the necessary choices and personal sacrifies necessary to accomplish conservation. If those of us committed to wildlife conservation will not/cannot provide society with compelling reasons to support wildlife conservation, in a variety of ways, conservation will not succeed. One sure way to convince the average American that grizzly bears are not in their/our best interest is to suggest/demand that humans need to “get of their way”, concede the forest to the bears because…… well, because the bears were here first after all; or that we, as a society are guilty of specieism, that we just need to accept all other species as our equals in the greater world ecosystem and “learn to co-exist peacefully”. No doubt that is a comforting notion to some in our society. No doubt that such a premise and foundation for a wildlife conservation message – to promote the value of wildlife to …. people, and the benefits to …… people to make personal choices and sacrifies to accomplish wildlife conservation – will help guarantee that wildlife conservation fails.

            • JB says:

              Mark, Salle:

              A few thoughts…

              I think the whole notion of “specism” (or “specie-centrism”) is, to be blunt, irrelevant to this conversation. Most people, most of the time are egocentric (i.e., they put their own concerns above others’). In the West, where rugged individualism is still considered close to Godliness, people have a hard enough time elevating societal concerns (watch out for the communists!), let alone the concerns of other species! (Witness, for example, the current demonization of neighbors with whom we disagree about politics.)

              Importantly, being egocentric does not differentiate us from any other individual of any other type of animal–generally speaking, we all look out for ourselves first. Heck, sociobiologists and psychologists still debate whether true altruistic behavior even exists!

              On the other hand, asking people to consciously elevate the concerns of other species because those species are important to earth’s ecosystems–and thus to their own lives and livelihoods–is something that will resonate with people (especially when they view these resources as threatened). Numerous psychological experiments in risk communication have shown this. (In fact, the political advertisements people hate are all grounded in risk communication.)

              Both the risk of extinction posed to GYE-area grizzlies and whether/how that population should be hunted/managed are debatable issues with vocal and articulate advocates on both sides. The notion that we should somehow rise above our evolutionary roots to treat animals as equals merely distracts from these important conversations.

              • Ida Lupine says:

                It’s certainly a mixed blessing, our rugged individualists.

                I don’t think the issue is treating animals as equals; it is just not to discount them as nothing at all, or objects simply for our use or in our way, and that they do have the right to live and claims to food, unimpeded by humankind.

            • GrizzlyHunter says:

              You are exactly right, Mark. I couldn’t agree more. I would love to discuss this issue in more detail with you someday.

              • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

                Ida L. –
                Animals, domestic or wild, are indeed a human resource. There is no bill of rights, written or inherent, to guarantee that individuals or populations of animals have food, have habitat are free of misery and death. All animals, especially wildlife, live within the “rules” of their ecosystem, which we humans profoundly influence. The only “rights” within our shared ecosystem are those assigned by human society and recognized by humans – for humans. Just as every species, every form of life exploits other life for it’s sustenance and perpetuation, we do the same for our benefit. Wildlife, as a human resource, is a treasure that participants of this blog value greatly. How we manage this resource matters greatly …… to humans.

              • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

                Grizzly Hunter –
                I am available to the public I serve. I would welcome a conservation with you. My contact information is / 208-232-4703.

      • WM says:


        I don’t know. I am not up to speed on Servheen’s recent bear Committe work, but,it seems many grizzly bears die because of human conflict, and that was the largest source of mortality last year, at near 8-10% of the GYE population if I recall (though there recently have been reports of more natural mortality – starving was not noted as one source, however, as I recall). The range, if I am not mistaken continues to grow, but slowly as you point out.

        You suggest less food, means fewer grizzly bears – Maybe the verdict is not in yet. The whitebark pine nut issue seems not to be settled as a REQUIRED food source for continued population maintenance, just a shift to other sources. Another mystery to unravel, along with the relative uncertainty of how many grizzlies there actually are in the GYE or elsewhere- estimates have been conservatively low, but are being updated by Servheen’s group to more accurately reflect a larger population, I think.

        • SAP says:

          WM wrote “starving was not noted” as a mortality source.

          Given their size, mobility, and ability to find and utilize a lot of different food sources, I wouldn’t expect many grizzlies to just curl up and die of hunger. They’re going to go out in a blaze of glory, doing desperate things to get food.

          Grizzlies eat a lot things besides whitebark pine, that’s for sure. The great thing about whitebark is that it’s a high-quality food that holds bears in places where they’re less likely to have conflicts with people. It’s a fairly simple formula that may mean the difference between a increasing or decreasing population. Range expansion may, in part, reflect that bears are having to cover more country to meet their caloric requirements.

          • Salle says:

            In reality, this alleged “range expansion” is an example of the fact that bears once utilized a broader portion of the country to exist and procure nutrition. The only reason some consider them to have expanded beyond alleged range is that humans have confined them to a microscopic portion of their historic range. Now that they are reclaiming that historic range the world is going to end and the only remedy is to kill them until they are a small enough micro-population that will remain confined to the “allowed” or prescribed range that is barely sufficient in maintaining a viable population. Nothing is required of the humans who stole their habitat except to “keep them in check”… otherwise, humans might have to alter their behavior when it’s the bears who are expected to alter theirs.

            • Louise Kane says:

              salle pretty much sums it up for bears, wolves, cougars etc

            • Mike says:


              The bear’s range is not “growing”. Food sources are down, roadless country is down, and development is increasing.

        • SAP says:

          Grizzly distribution (ie, grizzly range) has in fact expanded in the past 15-20 years. There are numerous examples, including data reported in this publication from the IGBST:

          Further north, grizzlies have gone from absent to fairly common in the Blackfoot Valley (between Helena & Missoula), and are expanding from there to points south.

          Clearly, a lot of this “range expansion” is documented via (and ends with) dead bears. So, there’s a lot of work to be done.

          But clearly, grizzlies have managed to recolonize quite a few mountain ranges in the past 20 years. Just to name a few:

          WY: Gros Ventre, Wind River, Wyoming Range ( ; yes, another example of dead-end range expansion)

          MT: Gravelly, Snowcrest, Centennial, Sapphire, Garnet.

          ID: ?? Island Park plateau area was notoriously devoid of grizzlies in the ’80s & ’90s, therefore subject to much litigation, resulting in road de-commissioning.

          A little good news: there’s a significant Wildlife Monograph on grizzly connectivity. A number of notable agency scientists are co-authors:

          “Population fragmentation and inter-ecosystem movements of grizzly bears in western Canada and the northern United States”

          It’s available for free (!) at

          From the abstract:

          “Although we detected enough male movement to mediate gene flow, the current low rate of female movement detected among areas is insufficient to provide a demographic rescue effect between areas in the immediate future (0–15 yr). . . . Without female connectivity, small populations are not viable over the long term. The persistence of this regional female fragmented metapopulation likely will require strategic connectivity management.”

          “Strategic connectivity management.” That could mean a lot of things. Getting people tuned into the idea that grizzlies live around IP is probably a good place to start.

          • SAP says:

            That said, as an old ecology prof put it many years ago: “Distribution is not abundance.” We have to consider multiple explanations for what we observe, not just grab onto the convenient and expedient.

          • CodyCoyote says:

            Please do not be misled by any notion that Grizzly range is growing in Wyoming , or being allowed to , because a few bears make it thru the invisible zoo fence that is the Primary Conservation Area and turn up further afield in the southern Wind Rivers, upper Green, or Wyoming Range.

            The PCA is a tightly drawn boundary surrounding Yellowstone in NW Wyoming ( almost the same boundary line is used to define our newfangled Trophy Wolf Management Area, and that s not a coincidence). Wyoming has had full state management of grizzlies for many years, using a plan approved by Fish & Wildlife , which basically keeps grizzlies fully contained inside the PCA. ALL Bears found outside are ” controlled” , either by being trapped and hauled back inside the PCA for relocation ,or eradicated.

            In recent years, Wyoming Game and Fish has been playing a game of ‘ Musical Bears’. They really only have about 5-6 places one each side of the Continental Divide near Cody and Jackson Hole where they can affordably drop off a trapped bear using a truck, trailer, and manpower. That’s it. Any bears being managed are getting dropped in those same half dozen places on near Cody , or the half dozen drop zones in the Teton country.

            They relocated about 60 bears last year.

            Slinging tranqued bears in nets under helicopters for dropping in the wilderness or backcountry is not done because of expense and restrictions on landing helicopters in wilderness areas ( so they say , even though helos get full access to wilderness mining claims ).

            So basically , whatever number of Grizzly Bears live in or visit northwest Wyoming outside Yellowstone Park , they are condemned by regulations to remain inside the PCA or suffer the consequences. Even though the specific number of actual living grizzlies in the GYE is not known —and is not knowable! — it is safe to presume that at least 3x-4x the numbers of griz now reside in GYE than did in 1975 when they were listed as Threatened under the ESA. Grizzlies were never declared Endangered for political reasons, even though they fully deserved that status .The Wyoming PCA was established in ~ 2002 and by most accounts reached the grizzly population saturation point in ~ 2007.

            What is Wyoming’s near term solution to this quandry of keeping growing numbers of bears inside a fixed boundary ? Why , killing them , of course. It’s what we do.

            Relocation of bears to new habitat and suitable range in Wyoming outside the PCA is not on the table , nor is allowing bears to gain a foothold elsewhere in Wyoming. The only management tool for ex pat bears is a rifle.

            I’m not aware that transplanting Wyoming bears to interior Idaho, the Uintas, the San Juans or White River NF of Colorado, or anywhere along the COntinental Divide from Yellowstone to Yukon is even being discussed. But should be.

            Therefore, we will have many many more incidents of grizzlies escaping Wyoming and YNP into surrounding states on their own , and encountering all manner of humans, including hunters . We should not be decieved when bears appear in new places and infer that this is a function of growing populations of bears back at the core of the GYE and YNP island. Not when we recall that Grizzly bears once ranged from Hudson Bay to Guadalajara Mexico and all the way to the Pacific Ocean…

            • Salle says:


              Thanks for your detailed, factual and eloquent elaboration of my point.

            • WM says:

              ++I’m not aware that transplanting Wyoming bears to interior Idaho, the Uintas, the San Juans or White River NF of Colorado, or anywhere along the COntinental Divide from Yellowstone to Yukon is even being discussed. But should be.++

              The underlying question is whether those states want the bears (one you missed is NE WA and the N Cascades NP area. My guess, with increasing human population and existing land use is that there is considerable tension on that topic, which is why it is not being publicly discussed so much. Nonetheless, in the end, it seems highly probable grizzly population is increasing as is range – though slowly, because of the issues and policy, or lack of them, you raise.

              I’m thinking CA should be the next focal point for new grizzlies, afterall one is on their state flag (kind of like the irony of the relationship of the status of wolverines to the upper Great Lakes region).

            • Mike says:

              ++Please do not be misled by any notion that Grizzly range is growing in Wyoming , or being allowed to , because a few bears make it thru the invisible zoo fence that is the Primary Conservation Area and turn up further afield in the southern Wind Rivers, upper Green, or Wyoming Range.++


        • Ralph Maughan says:


          I posted the last 4 years grizzly bear mortality. Here is the page again.

          Yes, the large majority of dead bears are human-caused and related to food the bears want to acquire or defend. Most? natural mortalities are never discovered.

          Of course, the bears can survive at current levels in principle without whitebark pine nuts. However, the nuts grow up high in the Park far from human conflict. Bears don’t have to risk getting shot seeking these nuts, although they might in the sub-alpine areas outside the Park where the best remaining stands grow. In addition, there is the crash of Yellowstone cutthroat trout due to the illegal introduction of Lake Trout to Yellowstone Lake — a huge loss of biomass to many animals.

          There is a enough lower elevation food for the present bear population, however in the total GYE, but I doubt in the “core area.” Cody Coyote has severely criticized the boundaries of the core area.

          At any rate, most of the low elevation food outside the Park is close to people or contested by people. Examples are orchards, grain, elk and deer killed in the hunt, elk and deer gut piles.

          Here is the counting method they use. It isn’t simple but basically relies on sightings of Females with cubs-of-year.

          A much better method was used in Montana’s Northern Continental Divide ecosystem using DNA analysis of grizzly fur samples caught in a grid of snag wires.

          That was the study McCain always used to typify government waste.

          His willful failure to understand or even think of another example made me really dislike him.

          I am saying the bear population estimate is not that reliable, but as with wolves, it is not the total size that really counts. It is sustainability and genetic diversity. The latter is poor. There needs to be genetic exchange. Inbred populations don’t respond well to stress compared to diverse ones.

          I would venture that inbred bears are just not as smart and won’t easily discover new food sources.

          • WM says:


            I am way out of my comfort zone talking much about grizzlies, but here is the population estimation technique for the NCD of MT, up thru 2009, you mention. Lots of hands on work here, showing bears there are on the increase.


            I also understand that Servheen and whatever remains of his Committee are refining estimates elsewhere, which due to the technique will result in a higher and supposedly more accurate depiction of the population on the ground. This, I gather, is to bolster the delisting effort.

            I don’t have the time at present to look for more papers on the topic, but presume some are in the works, or maybe even available, for those with a curious mind and a little savvy seeking out reputable papers with internet search engines.

            Yes, the genetic diversity is the important part, and one would hope with the latest grizzly delisting efforts they will address that in some detail in the next couple of years. Translocation, anyone?

            • Salle says:

              “Yes, the genetic diversity is the important part, and one would hope with the latest grizzly delisting efforts they will address that in some detail in the next couple of years. Translocation, anyone?”

              It would be nice but, sadly, those efforts are usually thwarted by science-hating legislators bolstered by the usual suspects…

            • Ralph Maughan says:


              As you might suspect, the Northern Continental Divide ecosystem grizzlies are not facing the same problems as the Greater Yellowstone bears.

              I find that place quite encouraging with even surplus bears to augment the ever struggling grizzly population in what is officially called the “Cabinet-Yaak” recovery area very near the border with the Idaho Panhandle.

              One of the most cost-effective things that could be done for Greater Yellowstone bears might be translocation from a distant area, e.g., interior Northern B.C. and that might be done in the least controversial and most successful way by artificial insemination.
              – – –
              A note for those who don’t know the exact location of the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem: Glacier National Park and nearby areas to the east and west, plus the Great Bear Wilderness, Bob Marshall Wilderness and Scapegoat Wilderness to its south, plus much of the Rocky Mountain Front adjacent to high plains of Montana and the Mission Mountains and Swan Valley to the east of Flathead Lake.

  4. Mike says:

    This madness has to stop.

    We see this same story, year in and year out, with no attempt to adjust by the hunting community.

    The bear is just doing what it does. It’s an incredibly rare animal in the lower 48. It needs to be left alone.

  5. When I was sixteen, I shot a large mule deer buck. When we got it home and skinned it, the deer had an infected wound from a previous gunshot in one of its’ hind quarters. IDFG let me buy another tag because my deer was not fit to eat.
    It would seem that a rule could be established to allow hunters to get another tag when a grizzly or pack of wolves takes over a kill. The rule could also state that in such a situation, the hunters are to leave the bear or wolves alone, document what happened and then apply for a permit to buy another tag.

    • Savebears says:


      In the state of Montana, that is the norm, if you shoot, kill and loose an animal to a predator, you can document the location and obtain another tag to finish your season with, been that way for many years now.

      • elk275 says:

        The Madison Valley game warden, Ryan, if he is going to issue the hunter another elk tag because of a grizzly taking the meat requires the hunter to surrender the horns and start over. It’s fair.

      • SEAK Mossback says:

        I have never heard of a provision like that in Alaska, but would have to check. It was clarified years ago that game animals are not “property”, under the provision that allows someone to shoot a bear “in defense of life and property”, called a DLP kill. It is kind of a fine line, because if somebody tries imprudently to recover an animal from a bear and it charges, they could probably still somehow claim it as DLP (as in defense of life rather than property). It is often a problem with moose that can take several trips to recover. There’s a valley north of here with a very high brown bear density with some moose hunting. On my last hunt there by canoe, I thought for sure I would lose a moose that was a quarter mile from the river that took a full day to recover. After I had located and climbed a tree with a commanding view of two moose pastures to sit in for the evening, my hunting partner (to my mild irritation) was still on the ground some yards away with his single shot 12 gauge shotgun looking for ducks. When I got settled in the tree and glanced around in his direction, I quickly noticed that he and a large brown bear were directly facing each other from about 40 feet through a light screen of alders. The bear was looking intently and shifting from one front paw to the other to get a better view, but Hal seemed cool as a cucumber. I faced a moral dilemma, not being absolutely certain that he saw the bear, but finally decided to keep quiet so as to avoid wrecking the evening hunt. The bear finally turned and bustled off upstream. When Hal climbed up, I asked “What did you think of that guy?!!” and he said “What guy?” Shortly thereafter moose entered the meadow from both directions, and I shot a bull that we did not recover to our downstream camp for a full day. We lucked out.

        Others over the years have had trouble retrieving moose in the same area. Many years ago a friend was charged on his last trip in to retrieve antlers and was mauled, although he killed the bear. More recently, another friend and his hunting partner returned to the scene in the morning and were just beginning to notice something wrong – tarp missing, etc., when a large male bear charged from behind. They shot simultaneously and killed it although, having purchased brown bear tags, it was not reported as a DLP kill.

    • Luger says:

      And how would one be rquired to prove that another tag would be in order? Anyone could claim that the elk was “lost” to whatever situation…..can you imagine the abuse?

      • Savebears says:

        You can’t just walk into the FWP office and claim you lost your animal to whatever, they have to investigate the area that you claimed it happened, then make a determination based on the evidence located at the scene.

      • elk275 says:

        ++And how would one be required to prove that another tag would be in order? Anyone could claim that the elk was “lost” to whatever situation…..can you imagine the abuse?++

        The game warden goes to the kill site and inspects the immediate area and the remains. If the evidence is consistence with a grizzly then they will issue one another tag. Of course each game warden has a different interpretation of what happen.

  6. I believe Ralph is right when He says that food will reduce the population as grizzly mothers do not have their cubs if they are nutrionally deprived. also Salle is right about historic range . . The modern idea of confining the bear to certain areas is akin to putting them in game farms. the bear is a miracle of survival techniques and left to themselves they will adapt as the food changes. It is too bad that wildlife managers can’t come up with workable hunting practices that will keep bear from dying and hunters from getting attacked. The world has changed but hunting practices and rights have not. hunting should be able to adapt to changing conditions . . And I don’t mean by getting more high tech gear but being more cognizant of the preservation of their sport by being willing to adapt. I hate talking to hunters about stuff like this because they get belligerent right away as if anyone who doesn’t currently hunt is out to get them g…d…it.

    • Savebears says:


      You might want to review you message and understand why hunters don’t want to talk to you! Every single anti, acts the exact same way that you do. It reminds me of the great divide we have in Washington these days, and until we get past “My way is the right way” it will continue to be so.

      • Salle says:

        Actually, I agree with Linda’s point about the hunting community adapting. And attacking her – calling her “anti” and claiming that she has no business trying to inject some reason into the conversation – for making such a valid point is equivalent to placing one’s hands over their ears and yelling la la la la la so that they can’t hear a reasonable solution in order to keep on doing what they have always done… even if it’s patently foolish to keep doing it.

        Brings back the idea that “mansplaining” is still a problem, especially on this topic.

        • Savebears says:


          I did not attack her at all, I simply posted what I see is wrong on many of these issues now a days, and I don’t believe we are going to get very far when both sides believe they are the only right ones!

      • SAP says:

        I wouldn’t be so quick to assume that Linda is the problem, SB.

        Even being male, armed, and horseback sometimes doesn’t cut it, but I sure don’t envy the women wilderness rangers I know, having to deal with patronizing or even hostile men.

        It’s not just in the hunting world these days — everything is so ideologically charged. Can’t have even the most basic exchange of pleasantries without it going in some ugly political direction.

      • I understand you Save Bears but I am not an anti hunter person. .I am a person who doesn’t shoot what I hunt but I hunt all the time. . I just maintain that we need to update hunting methods in some ways and go back to older ones in others. I just want to open discussion but I find that hunters have been so beat up they are way to defensive.

        • Savebears says:


          As a hunter, Yes, we have had the crap beat out of us, I think discussion is what is needed, but both sides come out of the blocks swinging now a days. I do believe there is a solution, but at this point in time, I don’t know the road we can take to get to that solution.

    • CodyCoyote says:

      -here’s an interesting factoid on Grizzly bear reproductive rate I picked up from James Honeyman, the grizzly bear conflict manager for the entire province of Alberta , Cana when he spoke in Cod two weeks ago.

      Honeyman made note of the fact that all of Alberta has about the same number of bears as the GYE , even though it is 5 times larger, yet it has many more times the number of human-bear conflict incidents because the habitat in Alberta is so fractured by human development.

      What he said next surprised me: Alberta female grizzlies take almost twice as long to produce cubs as Yellowstone sows. They produce a cub only every 5-6 years or so, vs. a GYE breeding female every 3-4 years on average. They also have more single cub births and fewer twins or triplets births. So population recovery in Alberta proceeds at half the rate of GYE.

      Same bear planet; different bear worlds .

      The Yellowstone bear on its GYE island might just be a more divergent subspecie population apart from other Ursus arctos horribilus.

  7. Richie G says:

    To all hunters;
    I do not hunt but if you wish to hunt for food o.k.; Trophy hunting I do not like. As for the hunters killing the bear, they brought their kill out ,because they were not afraid ,they had guns,that’s it. Tell all your stories,the point is they had guns,and if they encounterd a pack of wolves or bears, the idea is shoot,plain and simple.Now as for bow hunting,doesn,t the animal suffer until it dies? Love you hunters, I like the ones who have compassion for wildlife, not just the kill. We have bow hunting here too in shark river park nov/ till feb I really heard some painful sounds at times and the others hikers did not like it either.

    • Luger says:

      I agree with Richie, on several points – seeing animals staggering around with protruding arrows isn’t exactly a pretty picture…and the sounds from injured animals do leave a very memorable and lasting impression in one’s mind!

    • rork says:

      Not sure any hunters condoned shooting at predators trying to take your elk/deer, but perhaps I didn’t read comments with enough care.

      The bow vs. gun dispute is a long one. The main take-home is that with either, you must respect your limitations, taking only good shots. My bow limit for deer is 25 meters, and only on static deer. Are gun folks also conservative in their shots – the experienced ones, yes. See many, shoot at very few.

  8. Mark L says:

    There’s an effort issue in your 25 meter rule too….I’d like to at least save the really good broadheads/points for another use, whether the shaft is still any good or not. This is not an issue with a lot of guns, save muzzleloaders (even then just effort to reload). Same conclusion though, make the shot count.

  9. Richie G says:

    To sb; I never had any animal I have shot with a bow and arrow travel more than 50 yards form the point I shot it. Sb a running back cuts a fifty yard run and he just gained half the football field,that’s a long run. Fifty yards with an arrow in a body must hurt an awfull lot,I would even say a painful death. I call as I see it!

    • Savebears says:

      Problem is Richie, you have no idea of what you are calling.

      • Mike says:


        Obviously you are self-minimizing the suffering because you like the meat. Running 50 yards with an arrow in your body would suck. Just admit it.

        • Savebears says:


          I will admit nothing, except I enjoy the meat and I am glad that I am successful most times when I hunt, Just had an elk burger and enjoyed it so much more than the beef that most eat now a days. Death is death and for the human species to survive death is going to be involved, even if your a vegan!

          People don’t seem to realize how many animals are killed, just so we can survive.

          • Cobra says:

            Even running 50 yards is better and quicker than most predators will do.
            I’ve seen blackbears running with a calf elk for well over that distant and crying all the way, a horrible sight and sound. Nature can be and is cruel.
            A friend of mine that lives not to far from me heard a pack of wolves take down a cow elk just last month in the middle of the night and he said the crying,screaming and howling lasted a good 30 minutes.

            • Savebears says:

              I have had coyotes take fawns in my front yard and it is horrible to listen to their cries, and it lasts for over an hour most of the time.

              There seems to be a natural nursery on my property and we listen to quite a few fawns every year that get taken.

          • RobertR says:

            If any of you have never hunted with either a bow or firearm, then you have no idea. An animal that is hit in the heart or lungs with an arrow will die within thirty seconds or less. Most animals can make fifty yards or more in thirty seconds. With a firearm and depending the bullet and caliber of firearm the animal will die as quick and in some cases die instantly due to the hydrostatic shock of the bullet structure.

            • Louise Kane says:

              how many animals are hit in the heart r lungs with such accuracy and how many die that quick a death? I don’t think its an accurate sport for most, are all hunters expert marksmen? Think not

          • Louise Kane says:

            I think people do realize just how many animals die and object strongly to the killing of animals for food, especially on the scale that it is done. I realize its a personal choice but meat is not necessary for survival and is perhaps a big factor in many modern diseases like cancer, MS and other autoimmune disorders. Grains like quinoa and greens like kale offer more protein and healthier food choices then most meat.

            • Savebears says:


              Meat is necessary to my survival and I will continue to hunt my own food until the day I die, you have no right to judge what I eat, or criticize my actions, I am well within the law to take my own food.

              Now just to put this in perspective, there was an article in the USA Today, that said, many Americans are choosing to hunt, so they can determine their protein sources, you life style is no mine and it will never be, as my life style is not yours.

            • Louise Kane says:

              did I say anything about judging you. I said that people do react and object to the amount of killing that takes place for food, factory farming etc. I also replied that meat is not necessary to supply the human requirements for protein and thats a fact not a judgment.

            • Savebears says:

              Louise, whether you want to admit it, you were making a judgement on others of this blog that hunt for their own food, you eat greens, I will continue to eat meat. Over 95% of my meat is natural, I hunt and I don’t buy much at a store, so get off your high horse and understand that there are people in this world that don’t agree with you!

            • Rancher Bob says:

              You object to the number of animals that die for food? Your pro predator have you done the math on the number of animals that die from your predators for food? Try jon’s predator numbers at 20 deer or elk a year per wolf or lion per year. No wonder you don’t sleep at night.

            • Salle says:

              Rancher Bob,

              Last time I checked, there were no wild predators at the grocery store, and the last time I saw anything about predators in a food store, there was quite a ruckus about it. Wildlife eat wildlife, in case you hadn’t noticed its a natural thing. They don’t usually eat the stuff people can get from the store and few have jobs outside of wild places which is where they get their food. We’re not talking about Bambi and Winnie the Pooh. Good grief.

              Louise, any comments that SB doesn’t like is taken as a judgement, unless he’s making the comment… some folks seem to think that confrontational aggression is normal discourse and that’s all they perceive from others regardless of what the others intended.

            • RobertR says:

              Louise unless you eat organic foods everything else has additives that contribute to a variety of cancers etc.
              Game meat is the most natural form of protein and does not need vaccines to keep them alive and disease resistant as livestock does.

            • Mark L says:

              Savebears said, “Meat is necessary to my survival and I will continue to hunt my own food until the day I die, you have no right to judge what I eat, or criticize my actions, I am well within the law to take my own food.”
              Um, I like meat too, but I can’t honestly say it’s ‘necessary for my survival’ (and neither can you)…..come on, man.

            • Savebears says:


              I feel that it is necessary to my survival and will continue to hunt and eat my kills. Based on the link I posted yesterday to the USA Today article, it seems as if growing numbers of others feel the same way as I do. Both hunting and fishing is on the rise in the country.

            • Mark L says:

              Yep, and I respect that you feel that way, but it’s not ‘necessary’. Presenting it as such is deceptive, and detracts from your argument, like Louise Kane said. That being said, I’m actually with you….control where your meat comes from and you limit exposure to things you don’t want introduced, for the most part.
              As an aside, my grandfather used to put squirrel brains in our tamales when we visited without telling us what is was. We loved ’em. I miss them, but still don’t like squirrel….period.

            • Louise Kane says:

              Mark L and Salle wrote responses to most of your arguments Savebears but I think you should do some research about the necessity of meat in a diet, that was my point not that you don’t have a legal right, or don’t have your opinion, or that you are being judged. Just facts… meat is not necessary in a healthy human diet. Obviously you think it is.
              Half my family is Italian half is French. They eat a lot of meat fortunately they also ate a lot of vegetables. I learned through a disease how bad too much meat in a diet is and the connections between many western diseases and milk and meat protein. Its helped me maintain a greater level of health than most people with my particular disease, MS. I feel better, regained the ability to walk, chew and swallow all of which were gone for many months after a first and subsequent attacks of MS. That shit (losing your legs, ability to swallow or chew)makes you sit up and pay attention. After being told there was not much I could do but take medication that only reduces attacks, I read and did a lot of it. Most doctors give little or no credence to disease and diet and those that do are often belittled. The defense of the consumption of meat is almost as strong as the defense of the right to bear arms. Once I decided to test the theory of eliminating (most) animal protein and fat from my diet it also dovetailed with my feelings about killing animals and learning about how they are killed. I think the decision to loose 99% of meat, fat and dairy from my life has saved my life. I went from not being able to swallow, walk, chew, think straight, or use an arm to regaining much of the function. Not eating meat also helps me to be proactive in not supporting heinous factory farming practices or bad wildlife policy. I don’t think I’m judging really I was so excited to get a second chance that I like to pass on the word. I’m living proof of how diet changed my life. You are right in that we probably wont ever see eye to eye on this still I wish more people would at least think about the alternatives instead of seeing it like a threat. SB You’ll note I said 99% of the time…I’ll admit that occasionally I eat some free range chicken or turkey or other meat. And I am still a fish eater but am finding that less desirable also. I make it a point to only have meat if its been raised sustainibly, free range and from local farms despite the cost. I’m working on eliminating that too. Its hard to loose old habits especially after being raised by a commerical fisherman and two families of european descent with not a bad cook amongst them.
              anyhow SB not a high horse just coming from a point of gratitude that there were some great authors out there willing to challenge the status quo about the way MS and some other autoimmune diseases are treated. Without them I’d most likely be in a wheelchair, a sentence worse than death for an outdoors woman.

            • Tim says:

              To Louise,Salle and Mark,
              There are very few things in this world that are a necessity. None of us have to live in houses. we would be just fine living in 1 room apartments so as to not take up to much habitat. we don’t need to drink anything other than water either. get rid of all those berry crops that we have just for drinks cause that takes a lot of land that some other critter could use. none of us should drive cars either since we have feet to take us places. We should also not own dogs and cats cause some animals have to die to feed them. These are not necessities either but they sure make life a little more enjoyable for me at least. Hunting is not a necessity for most but it allows those who wish to do it a chance to bring home safe and very flavorful meat. If I eat meat it does not matter what animal it comes from weather that be fish, poultry or red meat some poor critter is gonna die and its NOT going to be enjoyable for it. The same can be said for just about all fruits and veges. insects and rodents are gonna die and they have just as much feeling as an elk, deer, grouse or whatever meat you choose to eat. Its pretty sad that a lot of Americans lack the nerve to take care of themselves. I just could not imagine always relying on someone else to do the dirty work for me.

  10. Salle says:


    FYI: Here’s the searchable text of the “Grazing Act”

    That is one fantastic web site. Just happened on it today. If you “google” the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934, you will find all kinds of information, analysis, refereed articles and more.

    • Louise Kane says:

      Thank you Salle for the text!

      • Salle says:

        No problem, Louise. We need to keep working together, sharing information in order to bring about change in a democratic fashion. Thanks for all the effort you put into these issues. If I can point you toward helpful info, I figure it’s the least I can do to help in some way.

  11. Wm Bova says:

    These guys were looking for trouble from the get go. My feeling is if you don’t have time to skin and get the meat out a high griz population area like Island Park….you lose. Advise F&G and see if you can get another tag. Going in with the Earp’s and Doc Holliday the next morning was all about killing a bear, as they stood a small percentage of finding an unclaimed elk.

    They were all obviously close to each other and had not spread out to look for the elk. I’m sure they spotted a bunch of crows or mag’s in the trees and went over for a confrontation. They got it.

    Last year a man lost his life when shot by his hunting partner, and it was just dumb luck it didn’t happen here. I know many of the hunters want the wolves and griz gone, but that’s not happening anytime soon.

  12. Richie G says:

    To sb ; Trouble is you do not know what you are calling,nature is nature if a preadtor takes down animal that is nature. If a animal dies of starvation that is nature. Hunting is not nature,the problem is you are attacking others IMHO,I see nobody attacking you. West Point did a number on you guy, you writing seems to look down on people IMHO. I never told you this,did not want to say it.Next point, an arrow to the lungs or heart still is painful, it will always be your choice,and mine is my choice.I hate to see snares around a wolf;’s neck,like I said it looks like my own dogs. It doesn’t feel right to me.WE use these animals as tools like a hammer,beat the crap out of it till it falls apart.Again IMHO

    • Savebears says:

      Richie, what do you mean hunting is not natural? Humans have been hunting since the dawn of man, humans are a predator. As far as attacking, I have been attacked on here a number of times over the years, This subject has nothing to do with my Military background. You seem to forget, I also have my degree in wildlife biology as well.

      I have never said, that an arrow through the lungs is not painful, I said, I have never had an animal go more than 50 yards after I shot it. Getting shot with anything will cause pain, be it a bolt to a fore head by a slaughter house worker or an arrow or a bullet by a hunter.

      I use animals as a meat source to feed my family and myself, I can’t help that you don’t like that, hunting is a legal activity, and based on an article I posted yesterday, it is on the rise in this country..

      I really have very little concern about you telling me something Richie, based on some of the things I have read that you posted, I can say I am not all that impressed either.

  13. Richie G says:

    P.S. Who am I calling?

  14. Richie G says:

    P.S. Who am I calling s.b. ?

  15. mikepost says:

    Here is a poor non-hunter just trying to catch a fish…
    it is not always hunters that get into trouble.

    • Salle says:

      Ouch! Lost his jaw… ewweee! It’s amazing he made out to the road after that. That sow must have been really pissed.

  16. Richie G says:

    To sb; If you remember I said I did not care hunting for food is o.k., but you seem to forget that. AS a bolt to the head in a slughter house,yes it is painful too,and very sad. But 50 yards is no big deal,that is my point! I do remember you went for a degree in biology and you worked for the forest service,and they wanted you to alter you findings.I know all that, but I just do not like killing animals that is me period. I could say how do you feel when the animal is taking it’s last breath, or grasping for air in it’s last moments.I just get the impression you write down to people. You have no patience with Jon, and you been a little cross even with Ralph’s statements. Maybe you feel your being analytical,but it does not come off that way. Now getting back to hunting,I can see nature as being cruel, but humans are the worst throughout history,don’t you think I know that. Romans used lions and bears against men, I feel bad for the men,but also for the bears and lions too!I love animals period ,even more than most people.I remember you said you cried when your German shepherd died, don’t you feel bad when you see something like you own dog being hunted down? That is the difference between us ,I do. Their genes are so close to our own animals, our dogs came from them,how can man be so insensative to this,trapping by the neck,or leg clamps, disgusting,I said my peace.

    • Savebears says:


      I was in tears when I lost my Golden, and I have shed tears when I have successfully taken a deer, I also say a prayer and thank for the bounty my family has. I have never endorsed trapping, I don’t participate and never have, I believe hunting needs to be ethical and no torture involved. I have not elevated wolves about any other game animal and I have never degenerated them below any other game animal.

      I don’t hunt wolves, but have never had a problem with them being managed.

      Ralph and I have had our differences and we have both stated such, I am not trying to write down to anyone, but I will post my opinion, as does everybody else on this blog and many are down right derogatory and hateful when they do it. This is one of the best blogs around for these types of issue because both sides are allowed to post, it is not a one sided feel good blog, you find all sides being represented and for that I commend Ralph as well as Ken.

      • Craig says:

        Good post SB! As for animals getting shot or stuck with an arrow! When that much pain is administered to the body, Human or animal, pain is not felt.
        Adrenaline kicks in immedialtly and sends a fight or flight response that happens in milliseconds.
        Pain receptors are bypassed and major trauma has no effect. What does is the loss of blood, dizziness and then blackout.
        Now a bad shot(non fatal) will later have pain ect, if the animal lives.
        But an animal running for 50 to 100 yards is running on Adrenaline and has no pain at that point!
        And yes I know very goddamn well this is true, I have lived through it! And after the Adrenaline wears off shock comes into take it’s place and you feel nothing!

        • Salle says:

          Speak for yourself. Some actually do feel it from the very instant the wound is inflicted. Lucky for you that the pain was delayed, that is nit the case n every instance.

          • Salle says:

            …not the case in every instance…

            • Craig says:

              I didn’t say every case. In a normal heart,lung kill shot they will die quick with no pain. Yes it depends on a lot of variables, but in MOST cases quick and easy.
              A bad shot could cause pain if not fatal, but still Adrenaline kicks in, it’s a normal defense breed into all mamamals.
              I’m not dead but I’ll tell you I felt nothing but a rush to get the hell away from where I was. Which was not good to run from help.
              But you have no control, you act on instinct and have no normal thought process, such as judement or rational thinking.
              It takes over,no pain, just go! I’ve been unforunate to see a few dogs get hit and yelp like all hell but it wasn’t fatal. They were in obvious pain.
              A fatal wound causes a differnt reaction. My wound was fatal I just got lucky and got taken to the hospital before I died. I do not remember anything “after” it happened but the doctor said 5 minutes longer I would have been dead, bleed to death.

            • Savebears says:

              I have way more pain now a days, then I did when I was wounded, I do not really remember much of it, I do have vague memories of the helo ride.

            • Craig says:

              It’s a fact, no matter what the body endures biological mechanisms take over. You cannot control it, some people are pussies and a paper cut causes great pain.

  17. Richie G says:

    To sb;
    P.S. I try never to impress people that is not me !

  18. Richie G says:

    To sb;
    I had the type of dog wrong, and If it seems like I try to impress I really don’t. I admire you and respect you for saying a prayer,but what I said, I got that feeling,but I am glad to know you better,just a side note while you were in west point I was hiking and taking my dogs to seven lakes drive,Bear Mountain,you know the area,so that is how I get to know about the outdoors and the woods.That was my escape from the city,and I am glad you told me these things,puts you in a very humble light. As for wolves I do put them in a different light,I had so many dogs my entire life,dogs and cats, but my best pets, hate to call them pets ,friends were my dogs.They were with me in my muscle car all my cars,some of my best days I spent with them,in the woods,on the streets, on the beach etc.IMHO wolves look so much alike and they are next to the dog I can’t seperate them, that is just me. P.S. Most of my adult life I had four dogs at a time,and when they went I tried my best and my family to keep them alive at any expense.

  19. Richie G says:

    I think Ralph and Ken are great people, and are on the right side,opps I mean left.

  20. HAL 9000 says:

    I just avoid the potential complications and problems by not hunting in grizzly country in the first place.

  21. Wm Bova says:

    From Mark Gamblin (IDFG) as he reported above last night:

    “I think the facts of this incident are pretty clear by now. A successful archery elk hunter returned the morning following his kill, with four friends to retrieve the bull elk he killed. This is in the Chick Creek drainage, a small tributary to the Buffalo River, tributary to the Henrys Fork River near Last Chance. This is a popular recreation area with many summer and permanent cabins and homes. The retrieval party was armed with a shotgun and several heavy caliber handguns for bear protection. As they approached the kill site, they were charged at very close range by a grizzly bear. Between 12 and 16 shots were fired at the bear at close range. They reported that the bear fell, then ran away, leaving a blood trail. The incident was reported. A response team of IDFG officers and USFWS personnel went in first thing the following morning (Sunday). They flushed a bear from the kill, which was completely buried in forest debris by a bear. There was not way to determine if that bear was the wounded bear. They followed a faint blood trail for approximately 400 meters before losing the blood trail. They were unable to locate the bear after an extensive effort and called off the search. Since then, there has been no additional observations or reports of a wounded bear. It is a strong likelyhood that the bear was mortally wounded and is now dead.”

    What’s clear is trying to retrieve a dead elk after leaving it for a night is a very dangerous idea in high population grizzly areas. Some of these bears have become very conditioned to leaving the Park and heading into hunting areas for a free meal during the rut.

    Mark’s response seems to indicate that the hunter knew where the elk died, and left due to time restraints and darkness.

    I haven’t hunted for 30 yrs, but it would seem to me that if you are going to leave a dead game animal overnight, you would at least stand a better chance of retrieving it by covering it with visqueen and weighting it down with rocks and dirt.

    It still galls me that these 5 men strode directly up to the kill site armed to do battle. The bear charged them. Duh, what did they expect. Yeah, they dropped the bear and he ran off probably mortally wounded. But this was “stoopid.” There are Grizzly out there that would have gotten up and kept coming until it got to one of the shooters. It’s happened many times before where the adrenaline overcomes fear even when a Griz is mortally wounded. Shooting each other in a crossfire or getting mauled was a real possibility had the bear not been hit or continued the charge wounded.

    Will a Grizzly hunting season send a fear of guns through the Grizzly community? I doubt it, as there will only be a limited number of tags once they are removed from the endangered list. The real problem will come from lack of enforcement from the individual States as more and more bears will be shot in the name of property and fear for safety.

  22. Wm Bova says:

    From the USFWS:

    “If you choose to hunt in areas inhabited by grizzly bears, you need to learn how to avoid having a confrontation with one of them. Killing a grizzly bear in the Lower 48 States is both a federal and state offense that can bring criminal and civil penalties of up to $50,000 and a year in jail. Hunters are responsible for being sure of their target before they pull the trigger, and claims of self-defense are thoroughly investigated. Unnecessary killing of grizzlies only contributes to their decline, and may result in more restrictive hunting privileges in the future.”

    Be aware that where there is a carcass, there may be a bear:

    “When returning to a carcass, observe it with binoculars from a safe distance before approaching. Make noise and approach from upwind if possible. If a bear has claimed a carcass, let the bear have the meat and leave the area immediately! Do not risk your safety. Report the incident as soon as possible to the proper authorities.”

    Doesn’t sound like they followed any of those suggestions. I know USFWS was with Mark, so I’m sure these hunters had there stories all straight before the interviews and of course the evidence points towards them following all the suggested protocols outlined. (geesh) I’m guessing this was a forested area where glassing the kill sight was impossible….could you confirm Mark?

  23. Salle says:

    Wm Bova,

    This area does have some heavily forested areas but there are few places where you can’t observe some few hundred feet around you, and some of the area was clearcut some years ago and visibility exceeds over half a mile. It’s quite “hilly” as well. The majority of the area where linear visibility is short is along the creekbed where the shrubs obscure one’s view.

    It will be interesting to see Mark’s response to your question.

    • Wm Bova says:


      This incident is going to set a precedent. A message has been sent that it’s OK to bring 4 or more armed men to retrieve an elk left overnight. There’s not much the officials can do as long as it appears the protocols have been followed.

      Even if it wasn’t heavily forested, they can always say that they glassed the area and saw nothing that indicated the presence of a bear….end of story.

      With budget cuts looming, enforcement will wain whether the bear remains on the endangered list or not.

      • elk275 says:

        Wm Bova

        Have you ever approached downed game in grizzly county? I have many times. Every situation is different and the correct procedure changes with the terrain and brush cover. Unless one was there it is hard to determine what to do or not do.

        I have never worried much in Montana as I have always been able to remove the animal that day. Alaska is different. I am very, very careful and aware of everything.

  24. mikepost says:

    I have a friend who lost an eye and part of his face to a bear attack during hunting season in Montana. He was not near a carcass (indeed had not yet begun to actively hunt), the bear was merely responding to a nearby gunshot (ala Pavlov) and they crossed paths in dense brush. The bear whacked him once and kept on going to the site of the future gut pile.

  25. Wm Bova says:

    No elk but I’m sure a little common sense goes a long way no matter what your experience. I’ve hiked in Grizzly country in BC, Montana, and Wyoming. I always have my hand on the spray with the clip off when my sight line is below 25 yds, plus I carry a pistol as backup. I’m not familiar with Alaska except what I read.

    I don’t expect a clearer explanation from Mark as he was part of a team in this investigation and although they may have feelings one way or another, they can only come to conclusions based on factual evidence and interviews.

    My point is the Earp Brothers and Doc Holliday are not necessary if you use a little common sense and don’t shoot anything you can’t get out by dark. This elk was again claimed the next morning by either the same bear or a different one after they ran the first one off. I find it interesting the team on Sunday moved the bear off the carcass without shooting it. The Earp group plus the gov’t people were all put in life threatening situations because one guy didn’t use common sense.

    • ma'iingan says:

      “The retrieval party was armed with a shotgun and several heavy caliber handguns for bear protection. As they approached the kill site, they were charged at very close range by a grizzly bear. Between 12 and 16 shots were fired at the bear at close range.”

      From Mark Gamblin’s description of the encounter it sounds as if the group was determined to kill a bear if the opportunity arose – not a mention of bear spray. And 12 to 16 shots!!! – it sounds like a real fire drill that could have been avoided. Sure, have a shotgun backup but if the others had been armed with bear spray I would think the encounter would have ended without damage to the bear.

      • A Western Moderate says:

        ma’ , Maybe bear spray is finally increasing in acceptance. RMEF had a long article promoting it in the last issue of Bugle, they state “Guns are even less effective on these barrel-chested bruins. For your own sake and the bear’s, spray should be your first line of defense. ” (source ) Also, they posted a video of similar topic on their Facebook page on Sept. 14 ( this video ). I also have noted an increasing supply of it in sporting goods stores this year. My first can of it is due to be delivered this week.

      • Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

        I was not part of the investigative team. I have discussed the incident in detail with my Regional Supervisor counterpart for the Upper Snake Region where the incident occurred.

  26. Craig says:

    As a Hunter, they should have just left and gone to the F&G! Shooting at the Bear in a non self defense situation should be cause for Jail time and fines.Trying to scare a bear off a kill is wrong and very ignorant. If that was what happened. I would value my life over an elk kill and just let the Bear have it.

  27. HAL 9000 says:

    I’m hardly an expert. And again, I just won’t hunt in grizzly country in the first place. But, as per some of the observations here, I agree — arm the retrieval party primarily with bear spray, and then perhaps have the very best marksman carry a shotgun with slugs as a secondary option.

    Not meaning to armchair, I wasn’t there. But it seems to me, four guys all shooting bear spray at the griz would have been safer and ultimately more effective than everybody blazing away with firearms.

  28. Mark Gamblin (IDFG) says:

    JB –

  29. JEFF E says:

    so now the belief is that the bear was only wounded in the front leg.

    • Ralph Maughan says:

      Jeff E and all:

      Here is the entire Idaho Fish and Game statement on the Island Park wounded grizzly bear incident . . . Ralph Maughan
      – – – – –
      News Release

      ISLAND PARK – On Saturday, September 22 at approximately 9:30 AM, five hunters from the Upper Valley were in the process of retrieving a bull elk that had been shot with an arrow four [boldface mine] days previous when they encountered a charging bear. The individuals were carrying a total of five large caliber pistols and one .12 gauge shotgun loaded with BBB pellets. The incident happened in a split second and resulted in approximately 12 shots being fired, the closest a shotgun blast at a distance of approximately 12 feet from the charging bear. The gunfire turned the bear before it made contact with any of the hunters and a small blood trail indicated that the bear had been hit by at least one of the shots fired.

      An hour after the incident occurred an Idaho Fish & Game Conservation Officer and a Fremont County Sheriff’s Deputy returned to the site and confirmed that the bear had been wounded and did not pursue because of the dangers involved with pursuing what was thought to be a wounded grizzly with too small a search party. Immediately after the initial investigation a news release was sent to the media alerting the public to the situation and urging caution. The area was posted by the United States Forest Service (USFS) to alert the public and staff from both IDFG & USFS patrolled the area to alert the public of the situation.

      Approximately 24 hours after the initial incident, 5 members of the IDFG Wildlife Human Attack Response Team (WHART) and 2 United States Fish & Wildlife Service Special Agents returned to the site of the incident to collect evidence and determine further action. Before returning to the site a check was made of known radio collared grizzly bears and one bear that had not been there the day before had moved into the immediate area. At the site a grizzly bear was pushed off the bull elk carcass which had been buried even more than the previous day, an indication that grizzlies had claimed the elk for food.

      The blood trail of the wounded bear was followed for approximately for a third of a mile before it disappeared. According to Large Carnivore Biologist Bryan Aber, “The amount and location of blood sign indicated that the bear probably was hit in a front leg.” No other sign was detected to indicate that the bear had sustained greater injuries. Samples were collected and sent to a laboratory to determine more about the bear. If the bear was a grizzly that had been handled previously then DNA records could provide a match and reveal more information about the bear.

      As of October 3, there has been no new information about the wounded bear or reported sightings of a wounded grizzly. Rumors that a dead grizzly bear had been found in Island Park are false. Because the trail disappeared and there are a number of grizzly bears and black bears in the area the use of dogs to track the wounded bear is not viable. IDFG along with the USFS will continue to monitor the area for any bears which appear to be wounded or acting in a suspicious manner and take the appropriate actions. The public is encouraged to assist in monitoring efforts by immediately reporting to authorities any bears that appear wounded or in areas that could cause an immediate conflict with humans. Throughout the fall hunting season IDFG personnel will continue to make contact with the public to help inform them how they can reduce the potential for conflicts with bears and what to do if bears are encountered.

      The public and especially hunters are again reminded that Island Park is bear country and that both black and grizzly bears could be encountered. This recent incident shows that while firearms may turn a charging bear around, they create lingering worries if the bear is not killed, but only wounded. It is recommended that bear spray, which has been shown to be highly effective in deterring charging bears, be carried and used whenever possible. The effects of bear spray are temporary and do not create a situation where the public needs to be concerned about a wounded animal remaining out in the woods.

      According To Dr. George Stephens, a retired Neuro Surgeon who specializes in the study of grizzly bear nervous systems and brains, “Grizzly Bears are known to be able to withstand large amounts of physical pain, with the exception of when it is applied to their noses. Their noses are incredibly sensitive and wired directly to their brains.” The annuals of Lewis & Clark document the extreme difficulties that the Corps of Discovery had when they first encountered grizzly bears. According to Captain George Clark, “ …a terrible looking animal, which we found very hard to kill we Shot ten Balls into him before we killed him, & 5 of those Balls through his lights(brain).”

      When venturing into bear country, either hiking or retrieving downed game, the public is reminded that it is important to make plenty of noise and carry bear spray where it accessible. When hunting in bear country it is important to realize that many things that make for being an effective hunter increase your odds of surprising a bear.

      To learn more about bears and safety in bear country, visit:

      • Salle says:

        My comment, below, is in reference to the Idaho Statesman article that Jeff E posted.

        So they left that carcass there for four days!!? Excuse me, but that sounds more like they intended to go find a bear. Who the hell leaves fresh meat lying around on the woods for four days? So my speculation below is more realistic now that it has been reported that they left this dead elk out there for four days. What a bunch of… idiots.

        I still don’t see much emphasis on the concept that killing bears is an inappropriate response. Yes, they go on a bit about bear spray but, as with the Idaho Statesman article, the part about aiming for the nose doesn’t reference back to the point being that bear spray is most effective in this fashion. Aiming for something, in the minds of many, refers to the shooting of guns.

        • Immer Treue says:

          Four days does make this entire episode sound a bit on the fishy side.

        • JEFF E says:

          I wondered all along if it wasn’t some wolves these morons were looking for. after all who in there right mind would think that some hand guns and a shotgun loaded with less than slugs would be smart if what you wanted was a grizz. The whole thing reeks of idiocy

          • Salle says:

            I thought that too but didn’t want to say anything… There are wolves in that area, the Madison pack, for instance.

            The point that the elk had been left for four days seems to imply that it was left for bait more than anything, and as Jeff points out, it was probably wolves they were after.

            Be there won’t be anymore investigatin’ when that part gets more attention.

            Of course, they could just be idiots.

            • elk275 says:

              Leaving an elk on the ground for four days is Wanton Waste. The reason the elk was left for four days is because the hunter/hunters had to return to work and could not find helpers. No excuse.

              If one shoots an elk/deer/moose the hunter must make damn sure that they are able to access the animal and be able to get the carcass out in less than 24 hours.

              The elk was not left for wolves or bears. Elk meat is in good demand.

            • JEFF E says:

              no elk,
              the reason the elk was left is that one; the hunter saw the grizzly homing in on the elk or at least close enough that it was sure to come in, or two, the hunter saw/ heard wolves in close proximity and left which is what I believe due to what was chosen as firepower going back in. No one and I mean no one in eastern Idaho leaves an elk laying for 4 days because of work. You call the boss and say I have an elk down and need to get it out, and the boss says OK. yes I have had to do that very thing. No I do not believe it was left for bait, but the hunter sure wanted to recover the antlers and if taking out a few wolves happened so much the better.

            • Cobra says:

              Leaving an elk for four days is a bunch of B.S. I don’t care if you have help or not that’s why back packs are made. If you kill it you make damn sure and take care of the meat, no excuses. I’ve packed several elk out by myself over the years. It takes 5 trips with a good pack frame.
              I have had to leave meat over night and on a couple it’s taken two days to pack out but if you carry game bags and plenty of rope to hang quarters it can be done.
              This guy should lose his licence for awhile.

            • Jay says:

              I bet he managed to save those antlers though…

          • Immer Treue says:

            One has to wonder if the place was crawling with ravens and magpies when the wild bunch got there. May have signified something had already been there and opened up the elk.

            • JEFF E says:

              without a doubt there were several scavengers on site. One reason that bears and cougars cover the bounty is too dissuade the minions, wolves just stay on site and either share or continually chase the lessor’s off until they(wolves) have had enough or become bored and move on.
              that is another reason that I believe this hunter was driven off by wolves is that he/they believed that four days was enough time that the wolves would have left, and he could at least claim the antlers.

              I bet that when they marched up and found a grizz that brown was what was in their trousers when it was all said and done.

            • JEFF E says:


        • Ralph Maughan says:

          I agree with the rest. There is something very strange and disturbing about this fact — the elk had been shot 4 days earlier.

      • JB says:

        What I find amazing is that 5 guys firing from a very close distance apparently managed to put 1 bullet in the leg of the griz. I hope this puts to bed the argument guns are more effective than bear spray.

        • Salle says:


          It has been shown in studies that bear spray is more effective but you have to remember, an overwhelming majority of folks out here say they don’t buy into scientific data. And a spray can just isn’t as macho as guns after all.

          • JB says:


            I don’t know that it has been shown that bear spray is more effective (i.e., head to head)–that would be hard to do (random assignment of spray vs. gun). However, it has certainly been shown that bear spray is effective (see below).

            Abstract: We present a comprehensive look at a sample of bear spray incidents that occurred in Alaska, USA, from 1985 to 2006. We analyzed 83 bear spray incidents involving brown bears (Ursus arctos; 61 cases, 74%), black bears (Ursus americanus; 20 cases, 24%), and polar bears (Ursus maritimus; 2 cases, 2%). Of the 72 cases where persons sprayed bears to defend themselves, 50 (69%) involved brown bears, 20 (28%) black bears, and 2 (3%) polar bears. Red pepper spray stopped bears’ undesirable behavior 92% of the time when used on brown bears, 90% for black bears, and 100% for polar bears. Of all persons carrying sprays, 98% were uninjured by bears in close-range encounters. All bear—inflicted injuries (n = 3) associated with defensive spraying involved brown bears and were relatively minor (i.e., no hospitalization required). In 7% (5 of 71) of bear spray incidents, wind was reported to have interfered with spray accuracy, although it reached the bear in all cases. In 14% (10 of 71) of bear spray incidents, users reported the spray having had negative side effects upon themselves, ranging from minor irritation (11%, 8 of 71) to near incapacitation (3%, 2 of 71). Bear spray represents an effective alternative to lethal force and should be considered as an option for personal safety for those recreating and working in bear country. (SMITH ET AL. 2008. JOURNAL OF WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT 72(3):640–645.

            • elk275 says:

              Several months ago either in Outdoor Life or Field and Stream there was an article exploring your source and using additional sources. The writer feeling was that bear spray was not as effective as reported by a BYU professor on bear spray. I read the article quickly in Barnes and Noble and do not remember as much as I should have.

              In Alaska, I trust my 375 H & H more than bear spray. I have many years Alaska hunting experience either alone or with my cousin.

            • JB says:


              The article finds that 98% of people who used bear spray left the scene uninjured; the remaining 2% had only minor injuries. I’d be willing to bet that given 83 chances to kill or turn a charging bear with your 375 H&H, you’d miss at least once (no offense intended).

              Then again, it’s a whole lot cooler to ‘go down shoot’n’…

            • Salle says:


              That was the study I had in mind, I guess I interpreted it as more effective since I don’t feel that carrying firearms into the woods as an absolute necessity… subjective on my part on that one point, for the rest, I stand on what I said.

        • Salle says:

          …and furthermore, it’s a wonder none of the guys shot each other. I think there might be a different tale coming up in the near future. This story doesn’t pass the smell test.

          • elk275 says:

            The story passes the smell test.

          • elk275 says:

            Regardless of what it smells like, the Idaho Fish and Game investigated the incident and at this time no wrong doing was found. Tomorrow morning antelope season opens in Montana and in 2 weeks general big game will open. This is going to be repeated several times over in the next seven weeks, get use to it.

            • JEFF E says:

              so leaving a big game animal laying out for 4(or more)days is what we need to get used to??
              And then having a group of morons go back in underpowered and stupid is what passes for OK with you??


            • elk275 says:

              No, we should not get use to hunter’s leaving elk out for 4 or more days. That is wanton waste.

              There will be 3 to 5 grizzly/hunter conflicts in the next seven weeks. Each incident will be different. It has happen each year for the last 10 years. I am very suprised that achery season did not have more grizzly/hunter conflicts; it has been mimimal this year.

            • JEFF E says:

              I agree and it would then raise some questions:
              1:did the hunter make due diligence in trying to retrieve the down animal,(did he try on days 1-3) and is there a “trail” of evidence to show that,and
              2: if not, what is F&G going to do about it, because as you have said, every effort has to be made to retrieve a kill.

            • Immer Treue says:

              Which leads to other questions. If one can’t take the elk out that night, what is protocol? The incident a couple years ago with the wolf pack, the guy packed out the head/ antlers and returned with friend the following day with horses, and wolves were there.

              Should the animal be quartered, suspended, or just allowed to lay there? Next, returning the following “DAY” knowing wolves or grizzlies could be present, does one approach the carcass from upwind or downwind, knowing it could have been claimed, and/or getting best effect from bear spray, which it seems worked on wolves via our Yellowstone misadventurer this Summer past.

            • SAP says:

              immer – I would say the reasonable thing to do is gut the elk, quarter it, and take the quarters away from the gutpile. Seeems bears like the gutpile best and dive in on it.

              How far do the quarters need to be from the guts? Don’t know. I’d say at least 50 yards, better if it’s 100. Maybe put them in at least two different places to increase your chances of safely retrieving SOME of the meat.

              I’ve had to leave parts of elk in the field for up to 15 hours before. I’ve never had a bear come in on any of the meat, so I can’t say from direct experience that separating quarters from guts works. I can say from experience that it is doable.

              Hanging elk quarters high enough (at least 10′ high, 4′ out from anything a bear could climb) without a bunch of equipment is pretty tough.

              Also a good idea to put some flagging or some other marker in the vicinity. Sometimes, the hunter may leave in the dark and return in daylight, or vice versa, and things will look different. If you’re approaching a pile of protein that may have a grizzly defending it, it’s important to know exactly where that pile is and stay oriented.

              Leaving a downed game animal out in the woods for anything more than about 24 hours sure sounds like poor planning or not giving a damn. Maybe if someone in your party had a medical emergency, or your truck broke down, it might be excusable.

              Elk are not bunnies or pheasants. If you don’t have a realistic plan for retrieving one, you shouldn’t be hunting them.

            • Immer Treue says:


              Thanks for a good comprehensive reply. The bit of time I have spent camping in Yellowstone, and especially Denali, makes me aware of some of the do’s and dont’s in Grizzly country, some of which can be applied when retrieving and elk, that’s the minor leagues compared to the majors.

              This individual and his posse seemed to have done everything wrong from the very beginning. Did the archer even know he killed the elk; was he prepared at all to perform any of the functions you listed; was he out more or less on a lark, shot the elk and didn’t know what to do; waiting four days; did he and his posse really know where the elk was; how did they not shoot each other; and lastly, as I mentioned earlier, I can’t help but think the area would have been thick with ravens and or magpies which would have been a dead giveaway that the carcas had been claimed.

              Again, thanks for the comprehensive reply.

            • Salle says:

              the Idaho Fish and Game investigated the incident…

              Sorry, that’s not exactly the most compelling argument for a credible resolve on this issue. 😉

  30. Salle says:

    Okay, so… I don’t see anything in this article that does anything more than sort of suggest that bear spray is a better tool for what they were attempting to do. There is an obligatory mention but the article ends with an ambiguous statement that isn’t really clear that this advice is in reference to bear spray…

    Aim for the nose: Grizzlies can withstand a lot of pain — “with the exception of when it is applied to their noses,” said George Stephens, a retired neurosurgeon who studies grizzlies. “Their noses are incredibly sensitive and wired directly to their brains.”

    Most gun-totin’ buffoons, like this gang of severe intellectuals, will decide that if they are to shoot at a bear (again), they should aim for the nose and it will drop immediately. The wording in this article is spectacularly inept.

    Now that it has been determined that the bear was only wounded, all I can do is laugh at those clowns with their “big guns”. Now their story is sounding less credible if they shot that many small cannons, at close range, and the bear was only wounded. Either they are the new “gang who couldn’t shoot straight” or something else happened and they aren’t telling the truth.

    In any case, they should have left the scene without harming the bear. If they had bear spray, they wouldn’t have had to worry about a now wounded bear, a problem they created that the taxpayers are now paying for. In that case, I hope none of them fill any of their tags this year and maybe longer.

    • Nancy says:

      Kind of reminds me of the Appleby/Pitman incident. Bull elk shot, meat left behind til it was “convienent” to recover. Although I can’t seem to recall there was ever an official report released on what happened there.

  31. Wm Bova says:

    Interesting fact that 4 days passed. They will never regulate stupidity, so this case is closed. I’m glad to see the bear got within 12′ before probably being struck in the leg by buck shot. Sounds like he will survive, so that part is good. Will this deter future reckless behavior? Hah, that’s a laugh.

    I was reading a response from the bow hunter that was bit looking for his elk the week before. He went looking the next day as he had shot the elk too close to dark the previous day. He said he was in wide open space and saw some movement in a cluster of bushes. So he walked up and was set upon by a grizzly in a split second. He said he couldn’t believe how quickly the bear was on him, bit him, then went back in to the brush. He is rethinking his annual visit to Idaho for the elk hunt, as he thinks there are far too many grizzlies to safely hunt in that area anymore. It may be more dangerous, but if you use common sense…there is no reason you can’t enjoy an elk hunt. My guess is he won’t be back, but his tag will be taken in the future by hopefully someone who is prepared to hunt in that type of environment.


September 2012


‎"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

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