Wandering Grand Teton Grizzly Bear Cubs Are Now Independent, Park Warns Public to Stay Alert

by Amy Myers

Spring can be a magical time at Grand Teton National Park, especially as the bears and other wildlife emerge from their dens. Now, even more exciting, a pair of grizzly bear cubs that park officials have been monitoring have separated from their mother and have graduated into adulthood.

The grizzly bear known as 399 has been an attentive mother during the past couple of seasons. However, the sow hasn’t been choosing the most traditional methods for foraging. In fact, it’s been cause for concern for Grand Teton park officials. In the past, the grizzly bear family has often ventured outside of the national park’s borders to residential areas. There, they’ve acquired a preference for human food over naturally occurring materials. This encourages the offspring to continue this habit, which may lead to potential human-bear encounters.

“During the last two years, grizzly bear 399 and her cubs spent a significant amount of time near residential areas and received numerous food rewards,” Grand Teton shared in its release. “These events serve as a critical reminder that all of Teton County is in occupied grizzly bear habitat.”

‘A Fed Bear Is a Dead Bear’

“Living and recreating in bear country requires awareness and actions on our part to keep both bears and humans safe,” the release stated. “As the grizzly bear population expands within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, bears continue to disperse across their historical range but also into more populated areas. Unfortunately, more often than not, ‘a fed bear is a dead bear.’”  

While these young bears learn to fend for themselves, it is incredibly important that visitors and locals stay alert and take the necessary steps to avoid any confrontations with the animals. The most crucial of these steps is to store any food and attractants.

“Grizzly bear 399 and her offspring foraged naturally on private property for nearly two weeks with no conflicts recorded. This goes to show that our efforts and dedication as a community paid off. Let’s keep up the great work,” the park’s statement continued.

Grand Teton Officials Also Conducting Grizzly Bear Trapping

Meanwhile, Grand Teton wildlife officials are also conducting grizzly bear trappings in order to collect more data about the condition of the area’s population.

“Identifying the locations and causes of grizzly bear mortality is another key component in understanding the dynamics of this population,” the USGS stated. “Over 80% of all documented bear mortalities are human-caused. Tracking human-caused bear deaths helps define patterns and trends that can direct management programs designed to reduce bear mortality.”

The park will be using culvert traps in marked parts of the park to capture the bears. Once officials sedate the bears, they then collect information about their size, weight and other characteristics. Then they will fit the grizzly bear with a radio collar before releasing them.

During this period, areas of the park may be off-limits to visitors.