Bear conflicts continue in Jackson
by Wyoming Game & Fish
October 20, 2007
The Wyoming Game & Fish Department continues to respond to regular calls regarding black bears in conflict situations in the Jackson Hole area. A poor natural food year has resulted in an extraordinary number of bears moving to the valley floor, where they are coming into contact with improperly stored attractants such as garbage and birdfeed.
Game and Fish officials say that garbage is still the number-one problem attracting bears. “Unfortunately, we still have a problem of people being complacent with their garbage and other attractants,” said Mark Gocke, Public Information Specialist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. “I don’t know if people think the bear problem has gone away, but it hasn’t, and we all need to get in the habit of keeping attractants unavailable all year long. We live in an area with abundant and diverse wildlife. It is time for each of us to realize the responsibility that comes along with living in a place like this and do our part to conserve these resources for the future.” In this instance, that means properly storing attractants. “People must accept the hard fact that the consequence of not doing this simple thing is often a dead bear,” says Gocke.
Officials say that in a year like this bears can show up anywhere in the valley. On Tuesday, Game and Fish received several reports of a black bear near WY Highway 89/22 intersection in the town of Jackson. Last week, a black bear was seen crossing Cache Street near the Visitor Center, which then ambled across the National Elk Refuge.
Earlier in the summer a black bear and her cub were captured adjacent to Jackson’s main street, Broadway, in the middle of the afternoon. “This year we have seen bears in places we don’t normally see bears here in Jackson,” said Gocke. “Even if some residents haven’t ever had a bear visit their property, it could happen this year. We recommend everyone take care of their garbage and other attractants regardless of where they live.”
Game and Fish officials are currently monitoring a radio-collared adult female black bear that has been frequenting residential areas in Buffalo Valley, near Moran, and had gotten into garbage and livestock feed. The bear was trapped and relocated to the Togwotee Pass area last week and has since returned. The bear had been previously trapped and fitted with a radio-collar for research purposes.
On four separate occasions over the past two weeks, officials have captured black bear cubs that had been abandoned by their mothers and were frequenting developed areas. One was in very poor condition, weighing a mere six pounds, less than a quarter of the normal weight for this time of year, and had to be euthanized.
Another had become very habituated to people, had received a number of food rewards and was taken to the Game and Fish Department’s Thorne/Williams Wildlife Research Facility near Laramie, while officials attempt to place it in a zoo or similar facility.
Two others appeared in relatively good health and were relocated. Research has shown that cubs will instinctively den and can survive if they go into hibernation in good physical condition.
”It’s not uncommon to see mother bears abandon their cubs in a bad food year,” said Gocke. “It’s just another indication that there’s a real lack of natural food out there this year.”
In the Jackson area alone, Game and Fish officials have responded to over 175 bear conflicts this year, well over the 150 total of the last five years combined. In addition, officials have lethally removed nine black bears and relocated over 25.
Game and Fish officials continue to remind residents it is imperative for everyone to keep all potential bear attractants unavailable, especially garbage, bird feeders, ripening fruit, pet food, livestock feed, and the like.
”Late summer and fall is typically when conflicts tend to pick up as bears are actively feeding around the clock, trying to put on fat before they go into hibernation,” says Gocke. “I can’t stress enough how important it is for people to be extremely careful with their garbage and other bear attractants.”
Contact the Jackson Game and Fish office at 307-733-2321 or in-state only at 1-800-423-4113 to report any conflicts with bears. To obtain more information on living in bear country go to www.livinginbearcountry.org.