Young Male Grizzly Euthanized West of Cody

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Receiving a reward is usually a good thing. If you are a large predatory animal like a bear, obtaining a human food reward could cost you your life.

Such was the case this past week when wildlife biologists decided to euthanize a young grizzly bear frequenting the Pahaska Teepee Lodge west of Cody. The adage “a fed bear is a dead bear” reflects the reality that when bears are given human foods, they become problems for people. Problem bears often die.

According to Cody Wildlife Supervisor Gary Brown, the Game and Fish Department responded to a report from the lodge that a young bear was becoming a nuisance. It showed no fear of humans and was moving about the lodge grounds allowing some individuals to carelessly approach to within 20 feet.

Bear Conflict Specialist Mark Bruscino believed he knew this particular bear, and he set a culvert trap on Sunday, May 11 to capture it. Later that evening, the bruin took the bait.

“The bear was a 3-year old sub-adult, male, grizzly. He was in extremely poor body condition and we believe he was the offspring of grizzly bear No. 104,” Bruscino said. Bear No.104 was killed two years ago when she was struck by a vehicle only a short distance from where the sub-adult was trapped.

According to Bruscino, the sub-adult grizzly was a “roadside” bear that many people observed last fall. “Unfortunately, people have repeatedly fed and approached this bear and as a result, he had become habituated to human foods and people, allowing them to get close and remain close,” he said. “Grizzly bears will defend their personal space. When bears allow people to get close, they are no longer acting as bears typically do. If we do not intervene someone will get hurt.”

His point was well demonstrated when several attempts to haze the bear away from the cabins and lodge at the Pahaska resort failed.

This marks the first Wyoming grizzly bear to die in 2003 as the result of a management action. “I really wish there were some other way to deal with these habituated bears, however our options are limited,” Brown said. “If there is a take home message in this it is that people should treat all wildlife as being wild, avoid the temptation to feed them, and keep your distance when observing or photographing.”