Volume 2, Number 21 - August 22, 2002
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Grizzly killed in Wyoming Range
A grizzly bear was killed in the Deadman Mountain area of the Wyoming Range Mountains on Sunday, Aug. 11, but officials are hesitant to say much about the incident while a federal investigation takes place.
The incident was the first official agency confirmation of a grizzly in the Wyoming Range in about a decade. It occurred within the boundary of the Greys River Ranger District of the Bridger-Teton National Forest in northern Lincoln County, and the agency claims it was "some 30 miles south" of the current documented grizzly bear range.
Wildlife Service state director Rod Krischke reported in an interview that a private individual, a houndsman with his hounds, had accompanied a U.S.D.A. Wildlife Services trapper into the area in an attempt to control a bear that had been preying on sheep in the region.
"They thought they were pursuing, trailing a black bear," Krischke said, that had left 10 domestic sheep dead.
The hounds had run ahead after the bear, and when the two men arrived at the location where the hounds were holding the bear in deep deadfall, the houndsman called to his dogs, only to have the bear charge him.
"He just had to react," Krischke said, "at very close range, 10 to 15 feet."
The houndsman reportedly shot the bear, leaving the older adult grizzly dead. The Wildlife Services official confirmed that the animal was a grizzly, proving that the Wyoming Range did indeed harbor at least one of the federally protected bruins.
Bridger-Teton National Forest officials referred questions to federal investigators, who declined to provide any information.
Wyoming Game and Fish Department investigator Fred Herbel confirmed that the adult male grizzly killed in the Wyoming Range was known to the agency from years past. In 1999, the bear was captured as a sub-adult in the Buffalo Valley area as a research bear and radio-collared. The agency lost contact with the bear in 2001.
Wyoming Game and Fish Department bear management officer Brian DeBolt declined to talk about the Wyoming Range incident, but noted that within the last decade, his agency did confirm the presence of a grizzly as far south as the Hoback Rim, which is about a dozen miles north and about 25 miles east of the Deadman Mountain area.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agent Roy Brown of Lander declined to provide any information about the incident, stating only that the case is under investigation and once the investigation is complete, he'll turn over his report to the United States Attorney Matt Mead, who will make the decision whether prosecution is justified.
"We've had reports of grizzly bears in the Wyoming Range and suspected they were there, but this is the first confirmed documentation of a grizzly bear there," said WG&F biologist Ron Grogan in a press release issued by the agency.
"The Wyoming Range has good bear habitat and there will likely be more grizzly bears moving into this country in the future," said Grogan. The state Grizzly Bear Management Plan, recently adopted by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, calls for grizzlies to occupy the Wyoming Range, but WG&F noted in its press release that the state plan won't take effect until the bear is removed from federal protection by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"While both black and grizzly bears can be dangerous, we should take this opportunity to remind recreationists to keep a clean camp and carry pepper spray as a form of protection in a bear encounter," says Grogan. "This is especially important with hunting seasons approaching when there will be a lot of people heading into bear habitat."
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