It’s a bad year for Greater Yellowstone grizzly bear motality

We have run a number of stories this year about bears, especially grizzly bears, getting in trouble in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana.  Since then the berry crop failed and the whitebark pine nut crop is mostly just fair.

The number of known dead grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone this year is approaching 50 (46 as of today), which is about the average yearly total. About 80% were killed by people this year. The last two years have seen mortality totals considerably lower than 50, however. In 2013, 29 grizzly bear deaths were recorded and in 2014, just 28. For official figures and descriptions see: Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team – Mortality Database.

Today long-time grizzly bear activist Louisa Wilcox issued a news release. In it she wrote, “Applying a federal estimator to account for unknown mortalities, about 70 grizzly bears are dead [so far this year], or roughly 10% of the Yellowstone population.” In the news release she also announced her new web site giving scientific information and news about grizzlies.  Her spouse, Dr. David Mattson who is a well known grizzly scientist, also contributed heavily to the new web site, The Grizzly Times. The site has a massive amount of information. Much of it is written in an easy to understand way. The site is especially important for information about the U.S. government’s plans to delist the grizzly and a rebuttal.

In the news release, Wilcox especially promoted her blog of today “License to Kill or Coexist



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  1. Ida Lupines Avatar
    Ida Lupines

    Thanks, I really do hope USF&W isn’t still considering delisting the grizzly. What an awful photo on the ‘License to Kill or Coexist’ page. Who can stand to do this or look at what they’ve done. Especially when most every animal on earth’s population is threatened by us.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan

    Ida Lupines,

    They are still working toward delisting.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      More on delisting.

      They continue to push delisting even though over 99% of the 212,000 comments submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on the 2006 proposal to delist were opposed to delisting.

      1. Yvette Avatar

        This is an opportunity for bear conservationists, advocates and scientists to work with and support the tribes on opposing the de-listing. Both sides need to increase support, and even if, the ideology and intent driving the support to oppose the de-listing differs the end goal is to protect the grizzly bear.

        Here is an interesting paper on grizzly bears and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK).
        Clarke, Douglas A. and Slocombe, D. Scott, “Respect for Grizzly Bears: An Aboriginal Approach for Co-existence and Resilience”
        (2009). Geography and Environmental Studies Faculty Publications. Paper 9.

        That looks like a great website, btw.

        1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
          Ralph Maughan

          Thank you, Yvette

        2. Ida Lupines Avatar
          Ida Lupines

          Here is an interesting paper on grizzly bears and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK).

          I love this TEK information, thanks!

  3. Leslie Avatar

    There is just to much impingement from many sides on the bear population.

    Last month I hiked back a few miles on an ATV access road to a lake in the Beartooths and encountered some fellows from Billings who’d driven in. They were target shooting around the lake. On my hike out, I saw a sow with 3 coy heading down towards the lake. Apparently what occurred after I left, according to the Shoshone bear researcher, is that these men saw the bears, dropped their full cooler, ran to their car and got out of there…leaving a huge food reward for these bears. IF there had not been an ATV road access deep into this area, they wouldn’t have had a cooler. And why are these guys so ill informed as to appropriate response to this bear? They reported to the Forest biologist that the bear was over 1000 pounds! I’d already encountered this bear and she’d run away with her cubs. And of course, she was probably only about 300 pounds.

    This July I encountered a 3 year old bear on a trail. The following week, the Beartooth campground was closed because this bear and his sibling had been given food rewards from a car. Then the bears had to be moved because they were stopping traffic and climbing on cars. You can see the video on YouTube of kids screaming in the back of their car while dad keeps filming the bear on the hood rather than trying to honk or drive away. Probably sold the video and collecting royalties is my guess.

    Although hunters are a problem, food rewards and unconscious people are the bigger problem in my mind. And bigger than that is the fact that the GYE has no corridor established northward for these bears, nor is the IGBST working hard enough to make that happen.

  4. Gary Humbard Avatar
    Gary Humbard

    Whether the GYE grizzly bears are delisted or not is a moot point to me. For me it boils down to respect and appreciation for a species that is incredibly intelligent, powerful, protective of its young and tolerant of humans among many other attributes.

    Respect and appreciation looks like properly storing human food so bears do not become food conditioned; hunters carrying and knowing how to use bear spray and being bear aware, livestock owners using wildlife friendly grazing practices and the public who ventures into or lives in bear habitat, the “know how” to co-exist with them.

    Leslie, is spot on, the most important factor for GYE grizzlies is to provide corridors north and west to some fairly intact habitat. The Vital Ground Foundation among other organizations are working toward that end.

    1. Ida Lupines Avatar
      Ida Lupines


  5. Ida Lupines Avatar
    Ida Lupines

    Wolf Patrol is observing this hunt. Apparently, a lactating female was killed and these people don’t even care. I hear children’s voices in the background, what a thing to be teaching children – that life other than human has no value. I hope it’s ok to post the video?:


  6. Ida Lupines Avatar
    Ida Lupines

    207 bears killed the first day. The first day!!! I find it hard to comprehend that there are actually people out there capable of this. The lactating female bear was killed by a woman. What a spiritually dead society we have become.

    1. Ida Lupines Avatar
      Ida Lupines

      We must never forget that before Florida became a retirement destination and vacation capital, it’s roots were and are redneck.

      Now it’s up to six lactating females killed (so they say), and the rules say no bears with cubs to be taken. There’s been illegal baiting too. Human nature at it’s best.

      1. Ida Lupines Avatar
        Ida Lupines

        And here’s how the rest of the world sees us, gun crazed lawless free-for-all, just like Idaho:

  7. Ida Lupines Avatar
    Ida Lupines

    FWC Ends Bear Hunt After 295 ‘Taken’ by ‘Hunters’:

    This must be some kind of joke. Hunting today is an anachronism. Nearly 300 bears were killed in two days; one idiot killed a cub and was cited for it. Don’t know what that means, maybe except a slap on the wrist and a ‘now don’t do that again’ maybe?

    Killing that many bears in two days isn’t hunting – it’s mass murder. All because bear populations reached 3,000?

    What’s our carrying capacity, I wonder? Anything more than the 10 billion that is predicted boggles the mind.

    And then there’s that killing-for-conservation propaganda:

    Special bear hunting season ends after raising more than $375,000 for conservation efforts

    What are the ‘conservation efforts’, you might ask:

    “Bear permit sales totaled more than $376,900 and plans call for using that to help fund abatement of human/bear conflicts through comprehensive waste management efforts in Florida,” according to a statement from the FWC.”

    What that says to me is that nearly 300 bears were killed in order to afford new trash cans. Educating people about picking up their garbage and must be out of the question (or has been provent to be ineffective). What a country ‘merica is.

  8. josh sutherland Avatar
    josh sutherland

    What are the grizzly bear populations like around Idaho Falls? I am moving there soon and am curious.

    1. timz Avatar

      too far south, no grizzlies there.

    2. Professor Sweat Avatar
      Professor Sweat

      It seems like mostly farmland around there, but you’re only a short drive from the GYE.

  9. josh sutherland Avatar
    josh sutherland

    I will be hunting around there and would rather not have a grizz encounter!

    1. Nancy Avatar

      So carry bear spray, Josh…. On your hip and know how to use it.

      You’ve been on TWN site enough to realize, big wildlife is just as surprised at running into you, as you are, running into them, especially when you are running around in THEIR habitat 🙂

  10. Josh sutherland Avatar
    Josh sutherland

    Or just not hunt where they live!!:) Believe me I have not learned my wildlife knowledge from here, mainly boots on the ground in the mtns!


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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