Two Grizzlies Relocated After Killing Cattle, Sheep Close to Yellowstone National Park

by Amy Myers

Earlier this week, Wyoming Fish and Game captured and relocated two male grizzlies that had killed livestock on separate occasions. The bears had made a meal out of two different residents’ sheep and cattle.

The first relocation occurred on Sunday, July 31, in response to a grizzly bear that had killed and eaten sheep on private property. Experts estimated the “sub-adult” to be between three and four years old and weigh in at 265 pounds. While separated from their mothers, sub-adults have yet to establish their stomping grounds or begin to mate. That said, relocation is especially crucial for this age group of grizzlies because they will more likely be able to adapt to a new environment. Wildlife officials placed the bear in the Bailey Creek drainage. This location is approximately 11 miles from the south entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

The following capture and relocation occurred on Monday, August 1, with a grizzly bear that had preyed on a herd of cattle on public land. This male was a mature, eight-year-old, weighing roughly 361 pounds. It’s unclear if this was the first incident of livestock predation for this bear. Similar to the fellow farm trespasser, this bear was relocated to an area near Yellowstone National Park. According to the news release, officials placed him in the Five Mile drainage. This location is approximately five miles from the east entrance of the park.

Wyoming Game and Fishing stressed that capture and relocation efforts for the grizzlies are only acceptable after the department has exhausted all other forms of preventative measures and deterrents.

“With any relocation, Game and Fish consults with appropriate agencies to minimize the chance of future conflicts and maximize the relocated grizzly bear’s survival,” the department explained.

Wildlife Specialist Explains That Grizzlies Are Defensive, Not Territorial

Large carnivore specialist Dan Thompson stated that there’s often a huge misconception when it comes to grizzlies’ behavior. Many people believe that these bears are quite aggressive about their range’s boundaries. However, the wildlife specialist clarified that this is more wolves than it is bears.

“Bears are not territorial in the sense that a wolf pack is territorial and actively defends territory boundaries,” Thompson shared in an email with Cowboy State Daily

Male grizzlies can have overlapping ranges. However, they don’t tolerate competitors picking food or mates from the other’s area. As a result, it can be difficult for the department to find an uninhabited range for relocation.

“Luckily, the majority of our bears do not develop a propensity for conflict behavior,” he said.

In fact, Thompson said that relocation for grizzlies is actually pretty rare. With more than 1,000 bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, there’s really only a “handful” of relocation cases.

“We deal with conflict situations on a near daily basis, but that is a reflection of successful recovery efforts,” Thompson concluded.