HomeOutdoorsNewsGrand Teton National Park offers official update on Grizzly Bear 399

Grand Teton National Park offers official update on Grizzly Bear 399

by Jon D. B.
Grizzly 399 bear Grand Teton National Park
Grizzly Bear 399 and her single COY in May, 2023. (Photo courtesy of NPS media release, Photo/C. Adams)

“For grizzly bear 399 to have lived to 27 and given birth is exceptional,” Grand Teton National Park offers in their official update.

Indeed, “Spring is here and grizzly and black bears have emerged from their dens and are active inside Grand Teton National Park and across the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE),” the park continues.

But for Teton and ursine enthusiasts, one particular bear has been on our minds. And on May 16, 2023, the “world’s most famous grizzly,” 399, sparked thousands of photos, tears, and articles as she reemerged in the park. It was a wonderful day of ol’-fashioned good news, as seen in our coverage of Grizzly 399’s first 2023 sighting a few days back.

With the park’s media release today, we now have official statements on her return, what it means to the National Park Service, and what we can continue to do to help. Yet the most exciting news remains the same: Grizzly 399 has a cub!

“Grizzly bear #399 was spotted in the north part of the park, for the first time this year, with one ‘cub of the year,'” Grand Teton confirms of the May 16 event.

Their release comes with a park photo of the pair by C. Adams, showing 399 standing over her COY as she strikes a majestic pose. Age and all, she truly is one beautiful bear – and she makes gorgeous cubs. Both are the picture of their historied species.

Words from Grand Teton Officials on Grizzly 399

Per Frank van Manen, team leader of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, “399 is the oldest documented grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to reproduce at the age of 27.”

“Previous records were held by four grizzlies who gave birth at 25 years of age,” the park continues. By current data, “there’s only a 9% probability that a female grizzly bear in the GYE would reach age 27. For grizzly bear #399 to have lived to 27 and given birth is exceptional.”

Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Chip Jenkins adds that “Years of concerted conservation efforts have helped bear species thrive through active management and education. Grizzly bear #399 is an ambassador for her species and visitors travel from all over the world to see her and her cubs, so we must continue to implement the best bear safety practices for bears to thrive in the GYE.”

How we can help 399 and all her bear kin

As Grand Teton says, seeing a bear in its natural habitat is a life-changing experience. It’s one that “continues to inspire people to want to help the species succeed” and thrive. Indeed, spotting a black bear mom and cub in the Smokies as a child is what set me on my naturalist path.

Yet as the park says, living and recreating in bear country requires awareness and actions on our part. To keep both bears and humans safe is our responsibility. And as the grizzly bear population expands, bears continue to disperse across their historical range. They’re also moving into more populated areas, so it’s more important now than ever.

In fact, all of Teton County is now in occupied grizzly bear habitat. In kind, the park is asking visitors to please:

  • Secure, or properly store, all attractants that could draw a bear into a campsite or developed area
  • Ensuring bears do not obtain unnatural foods is crucial to bear and human safety
  • Once a bear becomes conditioned to human food, risks to the bear and humans increase
  • Whether you live here or are visiting the area, please do your part to help protect bears

See our initial article for more on Grizzly 399 and her remarkable life.