Grizzly Captured Near Yellowstone

Thought To Be One Who Attacked Man

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Bear Hunting Magazine
07/29/2008

A female grizzly bear believed to be the animal that mauled an Oregon man July 17 in Soda Butte Campground east of Cooke City was captured by Montana game officials. Rather than being euthanized, the five-year-old, 275-pound bear, which had no cubs, was sent to a research facility in Washington state.

Soda Butte and nearby Chief Joseph campgrounds were closed by the Forest Service following the mauling of Steve Bartley, 59, of Springfield, Ore. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks personnel set two traps in Soda Butte Campground on July 18 in an attempt to trap the bear that sent Bartley to West Park Hospital with injuries to both hands.

The young adult female grizzly, known as bear No. 495, was caught in a trap July 22, said Melissa Frost of Bozeman, information manager for Montana's Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department. Frost said records indicate the bear had been captured and collared in 2005 in Wyoming in connection with a livestock depredation incident.

There has been no reported bear nuisance activity in the Cooke City or Silver Gate areas since July 18, FWP bear management specialist Kevin Frey said. That said, there are numerous grizzly bears in the area and sightings often are reported.

Because this bear was captured at the site of the incident, relocation back into the wild was not an option, Frey said. Concerns about public safety and overall bear management programs were factors in the decision not to relocate the bear for the second time.

In addition, the bear also seemed quite habituated and comfortable around people, he said. All of these factors left the bear's fate uncertain, and FWP personnel had two options: euthanize her or find a captive facility that would accept her. Frey was able to find a place for the bear at a research center at Washington State University in Pullman.

Through the years the WSU bear center has taken numerous bears for long-term health and nutrition studies that have helped researchers and managers with the recovery of wild grizzly bear populations in the lower-48 states, Frey said.

The bears are well-cared for and have plenty of room outside for feeding and exercise. Frey said he's hopeful he caught the bear that injured the camper.

We attempted to target a bear in close proximity to the campground and not draw in bears from a broader area, Frey said. The more time that goes by without nuisance bear activity in the area, the more likely it is that this bear was involved in the incident.

All residents and tourists are urged to secure unnatural food attractants of all kinds that may lure bears into close proximity to people, since food rewards lead to habituated behavior in bears and can lead to incidents such as this one. Frost said one of the two bear traps that had been set at the campground remained Thursday, though the door was closed. Another FWP spokesman said it appeared some animal may have attempted to gain entry to the trap Wednesday night.

Frost said while it is highly likely bear No. 495 was the animal involved in the mauling, we aren't 100 percent certain, but we have to weigh the risk of leaving the bear out on the landscape (against) the potential risk to people.

Frost said evidence against the bear included the fact that she was calm and seemed comfortable in the presence of humans, and was not popping her jaws or doing much huffing and puffing, as an agitated bear might.

District Ranger Ken Britton of the Gallatin National Forest said the Soda Butte and Chief Joseph campgrounds would remain closed for a time, probably reopening only to hard-sided units the first week of August.



Go Back