Dead, Decaying Grizzly Bear Washes Ashore on Washington State Beach

by Lauren Boisvert

On June 16, visitors to Washington State Beach reported a dead bear to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The bear, a grizzly, had washed up on shore. According to WDFW game warden Dave Jones, who arrived on the scene and spoke to the Bellingham Herald, he’d “never seen one around here before. I’ve never heard of one being seen around here before.”

WDFW said that there was no indication of foul play with the bear’s death. It looked like it had been dead for some time, with signs of scavenging on its body. Its age was guessed at one to two years old, and it’s suspected that the recent flooding in Montana possibly drowned the young bear and washed the body ashore in Washington. Although, game warden Dave Jones thinks the bear could have come from Canada as well. WDFW kept the bear’s head and claws to determine age, living conditions, and where the bear originated.

Bison Chase off Grizzly Bears from ‘Funeral’ in Yellowstone National Park

In other grizzly news, earlier in June, a group of grizzly bears tried to encroach on a bison “funeral,” and the bison didn’t take kindly to that. The resulting scuffle gave experts insight into how these animals interact when faced with one another, but also insight into the bison grieving process.

“When a bison dies in Yellowstone, most of the time the herd that’s in the area will come to pay their respects and surround the dead bison and protect it for hours,” said Julie Argyle, a wildlife photographer who captured video of the amazing event. “This was definitely the case the other day,” she continued. “As you can see in the video, wolves tried to come in and were chased away several times and two grizzly bears also tried to come in.”

The funeral took place in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley. According to Argyle, it was some hours until any other animal was allowed to come close to the carcass. As for what this incredible moment showed us, it clearly highlights bison’s amazing capacity to love and grieve. Just like elephants return to their family’s remains to mourn, so too do bison have their own rituals.

Grizzlies Responsible for How Wolves Behave in Yellowstone

According to a study from earlier this year, Yellowstone wolves act differently around their kills depending on if there are bears nearby. Apparently, it’s the knowledge of another predator being nearby that fuels the competition. If there are bears nearby, the wolves feel the need to catch and kill their prey. It’s almost like they have to put up a good front for the bears.

Additionally, wolves will stick around their kills longer in order to protect it from the lingering bears. Grizzly bears sometimes go after fresh wolf kills; obviously, the wolves would like to keep these. So, they hang around, guarding their food. That’s a big step from snatching picnic baskets to stealing from wolves, but, hey, a bear does what it can.