JACKSON, Wyo. — Grizzly bear 399 has successfully weaned her four offspring, an interagency press release announced this morning.

The agencies involved include BearWise Jackson Hole, the National Park Service, U.s Forest Service, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation, Teton County and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service.

Last week, Dan Thompson, who oversees large carnivore management at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department told Wyofile, “They’ll still potentially be traveling together for another week or two. Anytime between now and June, when breeding starts, she’ll really kick those 2-year-olds out.” 

The interagency release speculated that the bears will disperse to establish individual home ranges. “Residents of Teton County should expect that these bears, and other recently weaned individual bears, could travel through their neighborhoods in pursuit of available habitat,” the release said.

According to the release, young bears have a higher potential to become emboldened in seeking out foods in and around human development, especially if they have learned to acquire food there in the past. When this food-conditioned behavior occurs, management options for bear and human safety become limited.

In early May, Game and Fish officials announced they relocated a male grizzly bear. In that case, relocation was a management tool used after other deterrents and preventive measures were exhausted. “Bears that are considered a threat to human safety are not relocated. In some cases, a bear may be removed from the population if it cannot be relocated successfully,” said WGFD in the announcement.

During the last two years, grizzly bear 399 and her cubs spent a significant amount of time near residential areas and received numerous food rewards. These events serve as a critical reminder that all of Teton County is in occupied grizzly bear habitat. Living and recreating in bear country requires awareness and actions on our part to keep both bears and humans safe.

“The potential for conflict is high, and we need your help. Please secure attractants of any kind and be bear wise,” said the release.

As the grizzly bear population expands within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, bears continue to disperse across their historical range but also into more populated areas. Unfortunately, more often than not, “a fed bear is a dead bear.”

“Grizzly bear 399 and her offspring foraged naturally on private property for nearly two weeks with no conflicts recorded. This goes to show that our efforts and dedication as a community paid off. Let’s keep up the great work,” said the release.

The release shared a number of tips, listed below.

If you are a resident:

  • Store all garbage within bear-resistant containers or in a secure building.
  • Secure livestock feed, pet food, compost, and beehives.
  • Hang birdfeeders in a way that makes them inaccessible to bears.
  • Help your neighbors create a bear-wise community to protect wildlife.

If you are visiting a National Park or National Forest:

  • Keep a clean camp. Store all attractants, including coolers, cooking gear, and pet food, inside a bear box or a hard-sided vehicle with the windows rolled up.
  • Properly store garbage until you can deposit into a bear-resistant dumpster.
  • Never abandon your picnic table or backpack. Always keep your food within arm’s reach, day or night, unless properly stored.
  • If you see a bear, please give it space and always stay at least 100 yards away. If you choose to watch or photograph the bear, use a spotting scope or telephoto lens. Park in designated areas and never block travel lanes. Follow the directions of staff at bear jams.
  • Please respect all wildlife closure areas.

If you are exploring the backcountry:

  • Be alert and aware of your surroundings.
  • Make noise, especially in areas with limited visibility or when sound is muffled.
  • Carry bear spray, know how to use it, and keep it readily accessible.
  • Hike in groups of three or more people.
  • Do not run. Back away slowly if you encounter a bear.

“Please immediately report bear sightings and any conflict activities in your local community to the bear management professionals with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, so we can respond properly to reduce conflict potential between bears and people,” the release said.

Buckrail @ Lindsay

Lindsay Vallen is a Community News Reporter covering a little bit of everything; with an interest in politics, wildlife, and amplifying community voices. Originally from the east coast, Lindsay has called Wilson, Wyoming home since 2017. In her free time, she enjoys snowboarding, hiking, cooking, and completing the Jackson Hole Daily crosswords.