That number? 28 grizzly bears have died, been killed, or found dead within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem so far in 2022. The statistic comes courtesy of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, who’ve posted the number online.
According to the team, an arm of the U.S. Geological Survey, the 28 grizzlies killed as of August 2022 include:
- 17 grizzly bears outside of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming
- 11 killed by wildlife management agents due to human-bear conflicts
The 11 bears killed were taken down for either “preying on livestock or ‘food-conditioned’ aggressive behavior toward humans,” Cowboy State Daily cites of the report. Grizzlies inhabiting Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park are included in the survey numbers. As are bears on public and private lands adjacent to both parks in Wyoming (as well as Montana and Idaho for Yellowstone).
Examples of specific 2022 grizzly bear deaths marked by Yellowstone survey:
- “Killed by another bear”: Two grizzly cubs were killed by a male grizzly on May 28 in Yellowstone’s Gibbon River area
- Older adult male grizzly “in poor condition” was killed by another grizzly on May 4 in Wyoming’s Reef Creek area
- Adult male grizzly was found dead in Wyoming’s Crooked Creek area, died of natural causes
- Adult male grizzly bear killed by a hunter on May 28 in Idaho’s Timber Creek area
This last incident is one of concern, as the hunter had mistaken the grizzly for a black bear. There is no legal grizzly hunting outside of Alaska in the U.S. Black bears, however, are up for harvesting via license during seasonal hunting in Yellowstone’s Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.
Grizzly bears were hunted near the brink of extinction across America as European immigrants colonized the continent. By the turn of the 20th century, grizzlies were all but wiped out from coast to coast, leading to extensive conservation measures both governmental and private.
This mass hunting was due to the grizzly’s perceived threat on humans and their livestock, with the latter being an oft-touted political angle for bear extermination. As the USGS’s stats show, grizzlies can and will prey on livestock. But this is an infrequent occurrence. More often, grizzly bears are euthanized due to habituation: the food conditioning mentioned in said stats.
The Dangers of Habituation, or Conditioning Bears to Associate Humans and Human Places with Food
Habituated bears are euthanized more often than not to prevent dangerous encounters with humans. Habituated bears can become aggressive in their search for an easy meal. Food rewards are always the focus of a habituated bear, not the resulting interaction with people.
For grizzlies, this can mean tearing through tents and campsites in Yellowstone National Park and throughout their range in search of food. It can mean approaching tourists while in their vehicles. And it can also mean chasing down humans as prey themselves.
Regardless of the scenario, learning how to properly deter bears from seeking out food – and yourself – is imperative knowledge for bear country.
To learn the basics, head to our Best Practices to Safely Explore Yellowstone National Park next.