Grizzly bear’s historic venture into area of Wyoming has tragic end, officials say

A grizzly bear wandered into an area of Wyoming where the predators haven’t been documented in decades, but its presence there was short-lived, officials said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service advised the Wyoming Game & Fish Department to kill the young male grizzly after it preyed on a cow on a private cattle ranch at the base of the Bighorn Mountains south of the town of Ten Sleep, the department said in an April 15 news release.

Wildlife managers found grizzly tracks nearby where the bear hunted the cow and also found signs suggesting the bear had been visiting the ranch for about a week, officials said.

The ranch is more than 80 miles from the eastern boundary of an area officials call the “Demographic Monitoring Area” and consider biologically and socially suitable for grizzlies, officials said. Ten Sleep is about a 185-mile drive southeast from Yellowstone National Park.

Grizzlies haven’t been documented in the area south of the Bighorn Mountains “since long before the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem population was listed under the Endangered Species Act in the 1970s,” officials said.

Wildlife officials say they won’t let the bears repopulate there, according to the release.

“Wyoming’s grizzly bear population is managed and monitored where suitable habitat exists as designated by the USFWS and informed by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team,” said Wyoming Game & Fish Department director Brian Nesvik. “The Bighorn Mountain Range is not suitable habitat and the department is not interested in allowing grizzly bears to occupy this area. Their expansion into unsuitable habitat leads to increased conflict potential between bears and humans, which impedes the success of grizzly bear conservation.”

McClatchy News tried to contact the Wyoming Game & Fish Department for more information and is awaiting a response.

Grizzly bears in the lower 48 states are considered threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages grizzly bear populations, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department handles “nearly all grizzly bear conflicts” and monitors their populations under its Grizzly Bear Management Plan.

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