Volume 4, Number 28 - October 7, 2004
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Grizzly bear mortality exceeded
Mark Brucino, bear management specialist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, announced that a young female grizzly bear had to be destroyed on Sept. 29 due to repeated use of livestock feed and human food at the Eagle Creek trailhead on the Shoshone National Forest.
Dr. Chris Servheen, the scientist in charge of grizzly bear recovery for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said this brings the 2004 female mortality count in the Yellowstone Ecosystem to six.
“With this death, we have exceeded the mortality threshold for female bears established in the 1993 recovery plan,” Servheen said. “This mortality limit has not been exceeded since 1997.”
While exceeding the limit is something to take note of, according to Servheen, “The female mortality limit is conservative and allows for humans to kill no more than 1.2 percent of the estimated minimum population.
The total number of female mortalities has been high the last five years. Female deaths averaged 3.2 per year from 1995-1999, but jumped to an average of 6.2 per year since 2000.
The sanitation problem at the Eagle Creek trailhead that caused the death of this bear is due to people leaving livestock feed and human foods in unsecured horse trailers and in the back of pickups, and to leaving grain and other horse feed on the ground. These human-related foods bring bears into these sites. When bears get food rewards this way, they tend to stay in the vicinity of these trailheads and they lose their natural avoidance of people. When this happens they become potentially dangerous and may have to be removed.
Both Brucino and Servheen stressed: “These deaths are due to human carelessness and are completely preventable. The agencies need cooperation from citizens to help conserve grizzly bears. People must be willing to do their part by securing human foods and garbage from bears at these trailheads and wherever bears are.”
Useful information on how to avoid conflicts with grizzly bears is available at all state wildlife management, Forest Service, and National Park Service offices in the Yellowstone area.
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