Hunter kills attacking grizzly

Posted 11/4/10

The hunter received at least two serious bites to his thigh in the attack and shot the bear several times, eventually killing it, Bruscino said.

Following the attack, the hunter walked a short distance, where he was assisted to a waiting …

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Hunter kills attacking grizzly


{gallery}11_02_10/grizzly{/gallery}This grizzly bear was photographed near Cub Creek in Yellowstone National Park Oct. 19. There are a record number of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and some are getting into trouble, possibly because the bears are exceeding their carrying capacity in grizzly habitat. Courtesy photo/Neale BlankA deer hunter in the South Fork area killed a grizzly bear sow Oct. 27 when the bear attacked him.The lone hunter was in the Aldrich Creek drainage in the upper South Fork of the Shoshone River when he encountered a 10 to 12-year-old sow, a news release from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department said.The sow had two yearling cubs in tow and thought her offspring were threatened, said Mark Bruscino, Game and Fish bear management program supervisor in Cody.{mosloadpositionuser201}

The hunter received at least two serious bites to his thigh in the attack and shot the bear several times, eventually killing it, Bruscino said.

Following the attack, the hunter walked a short distance, where he was assisted to a waiting ambulance by other hunters, the release said.

He was released from West Park Hospital in Cody, Oct. 28, Bruscino said.

Pending the investigation's completion, the hunter's name was not released.

The department will investigate the incident and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — the federal agency in charge of the endangered species — will be involved in every facet of that investigation. At the conclusion of the investigation, the results will be forwarded to the U.S. Attorney's office and the Park County Attorney, Bruscino added.

The two yearling grizzly cubs are as likely to survive the loss of their mother as 2-year-old cubs naturally weaned by their mothers, Bruscino said.

“They'll be fine on their own,” he said.

Population expansion

Grizzly foodstuffs may be in short supply, but population levels are stable.

At this time, bears are in a state of hyperphasia, focused on feeding in preparation to hibernation, Bruscino said.

“Natural bear food availability fluctuates seasonally and from year to year. This year it appears that natural foods may be in short supply,” said Scott Talbott, assistant wildlife division chief for the department.

White bark pine nuts, a grizzly pre-hibernation staple, were sparse this year. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team reported, “generally poor cone production during 2010.”

Food conditions have been poor this summer. That does not mean bears are becoming more aggressive; it simply means bears and people will encounter each other more as the bears search for sustenance, Bruscino said.

Grizzlies are more abundant in northwest Wyoming, Talbott said.

“We're seeing bears in places we haven't seen them before. We encourage hunters, homeowners and all recreationists to be aware of increased bear activity this fall,” Talbott said.

There are 603 grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (see related story). Despite scanty pine nut production, the grizzly population in the ecosystem is increasing by 4 to 7 percent on average annually. People who fear a grizzly population decline in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are not heeding the sound science that is available, Bruscino said.

A fundamental indicator that bears have reached their carrying capacity in prime grizzly habitat is when they stray to less suitable habitat, Bruscino said.

The only grizzly management tools Wyoming currently has at its disposal are catching a bear where it is causing trouble and releasing it in designated grizzly habitat, or euthanizing the bear, Bruscino said.

This year, agencies in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming have captured and relocated more than 70 grizzly bears, 64 of them in Wyoming, Bruscino said.

In June, a man was killed on Kitty Creek, west of Cody by a male grizzly after it was examined by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team. Another man, a camper, was killed and partially consumed by a sow grizzly just east of Cooke City, Mont., this summer. On Oct. 7, a hunter shot and killed an attacking grizzly west of Cody.

“We should be planning (grizzly) hunting as soon as we can do that legally,” said Bruscino.

Legally, meaning when the bears are removed from endangered species status.


Radio collars have signaled that a few collared bears have denned for the winter, Bruscino said.

Hibernation is just beginning, Bruscino said.

The department is encouraging people to carry a deterrent, either bear spray or a gun.

For bear safety tips, go to

Grizzly numbers hit new high in Yellowstone region

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Grizzly bear numbers in and around Yellowstone National Park have hit their highest level in decades, driving increased conflicts with humans as some bears push out of deep wilderness and into populated areas.

Scientists from a multi-agency research team announced Wednesday that at least 603 grizzlies now roam the Yellowstone area of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. That's more than three times the number in 1975, when hunting was outlawed and the species placed on the endangered list.

Chuck Schwartz, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist who heads the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, said that the 603 population figure was a conservative estimate and that the true number could be significantly higher.

Between 2004 and 2008, the area inhabited by Yellowstone grizzlies expanded 34 percent, to more than 22,000 square miles.

Wildlife managers said that push outward from Yellowstone National Park has created a number of “hot spots” for conflicts, including along the North Fork and South Fork of the Shoshone River and around Gardiner, Mont., and West Yellowstone, Mont.

In Wyoming, that expansion helped fuel a record 251 conflicts between bears and humans so far this year, ranging from tipped over garbage cans and killed livestock, to maulings of hunters.

The best wildlife habitat in the state is now full of bears, forcing some of the animals to spill onto farms and residential areas, said Mark Bruscino, carnivore specialist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. He said the animals are now turning up in areas dominated by agriculture and with little cover for wildlife.

“We're dealing with bears that are in and around people constantly,” Bruscino said. “There's no place to put them because the wildland habitat is full in our state.”

Despite their growing numbers, Yellowstone-area bears remain protected as an endangered species. The U.S. Fish and Widlife Service took away those protections in 2007, but they were restored last year by a federal judge in Missoula.

That decision is under appeal. Federal grizzly recovery coordinator Chris Servheen said last week that a decision on the appeal is not expected until 2012.