JACKSON, Wyo. — Famed grizzly bear 399 and her four cubs are at their den site, according to Joe Szuszwalak, public affairs specialist for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service regions 5 and 7.
In an email to Buckrail, Szuszwalak said, “While we do not have a visual confirmation, based on the latest collar data received from the two yearlings, the Service believes that #399 and yearlings are now at a den site.”
The famous mama bear, born in 1996, has been revered as the most famous grizzly on the planet, with a total of 18 descendants. In the spring of 2020, 399 emerged from her den with quadruplets. Since then they have grown in size and expanded their habitat range.
“Four-cub litters are rare,” said Frank van Manen, a senior research biologist who oversees the Yellowstone region’s Grizzly Bear Study Team. “We have documented females producing cubs well into their early- to mid- 20s, but a litter of four at [her] age is definitely unique.”
Since emerging from their den in April, the family had an action-packed summer, venturing out of Grand Teton National Park, raising concerns about the growing bears receiving unsecured attractants and human conflicts.
In early November, two of 399’s yearlings were radio-collared by an interagency team from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to better monitor the bears and mitigate human-bear conflicts.
On Nov. 10 the quintet was “escorted” out of Jackson after roaming the streets and making a brief stop at the Jackson Police Department. Local law enforcement and U.S Fish and Wildlife officials urged the bears north towards Spring Gulch.
399 and her cub’s presence in residential areas around Jackson Hole fueled conversations about mitigating bear and human conflict and new regulations countywide for bear-proof trash cans.
The Teton County Planning Commission will review the draft regulations at a meeting today, Dec. 13. The Planning Commission will make a recommendation to the Teton County Board of County Commissioners, which will review the recommendations during their Jan. 4, 2022 meeting.
It is predicted that after this season, the public will no longer see 399 with her four cubs in tow. It is common for a grizzly mother to care for her young for at least two years, feeding and protecting them. But when the cubs are two and a half years old, they typically separate from their mother.