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Bear Conflicts Taper After Busy Season

November 14, 2019
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Bears are heading for their winter dens after a busy year in the Jackson area.

Jackson - It was another busy season managing bear conflicts for Jackson Large Carnivore biologists. The bear calls came early and often this year, starting soon after the bears came out of hibernation. And, as is usually the case, the calls of bears in residential areas continued to get more numerous through the summer and fall, right up until bears headed for their winter dens.

In the Jackson area, most calls involve black bears getting into garbage, although incidents with grizzly bears are increasing, particularly along the Snake River corridor south of Grand Teton National Park. Even with a county requirement for bear-resistant garbage cans in high conflict areas, which has helped, Game and Fish biologists respond to calls daily, especially in a year like this when the local berry crop is lacking.

This year, Game and Fish had to capture 20 bears, relocating over half of them, but some returned and continued conflict behavior resulting in 11 black bears having to be put down. These numbers were above average. What goes unreported are the countless hours and days bear biologists spend cleaning up garbage and other bear attractants left available in an effort to prevent future problems. Unfortunately, bear-resistant garbage cans are found over-filled and unlatched or there are additional bags of garbage placed next to the cans the evening before pick-up. 

Another challenge is the reluctance for some residents to report a bear problem. This typically exacerbates the issue as the bear only grows bolder, more habituated to people and more destructive to a point where bear managers have few options other than to remove the animal from the population based on human safety. This is a sad story that has played out too many times for wildlife managers. So, the earlier bears are reported, the better the chances of a positive resolution for bears and people.

Below is a video clip of a black bear that was relocated to the Wyoming Range after getting human-food rewards in a residential area northwest of Jackson. As always, Game and Fish managers are hopeful this bear will stick to eating natural foods and can live out its life as a wild bear.

- WGFD -

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