From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 4, Number 35 - November 23, 2004
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Sublette high country: suitable habitat

by Cat Urbigkit

The Upper Green River region and Fremont Lake are famous for their recreational opportunities, but soon they will be known for something else: biologically suitable and socially acceptable grizzly bear habitat.

These areas fall within the southern boundary of what the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has proposed to be the Grizzly Bear Conservation Area once bears are removed from the list of federally protected species and subject to state management. The grizzly bear population outside the current recovery zone will be managed for lesser densities of bears than in the current recovery zone centered on Yellowstone National Park.

WG&F held a meeting in Pinedale last Thursday evening to present the proposal to the public. The proposal, once finalized, will become part of the Wyoming Grizzly Bear Management Plan, which will take effect once bears are delisted.

“If you want to give us comments, we’ll need those in writing,” said WG&F regional wildlife supervisor Bernie Holz. Comments will be accepted through Dec. 31 and should be addressed to WG&F, Attn: Grizzly Bear Occupancy, 5400 Bishop Boulevard, Cheyenne, Wyo., 82006.

WG&F’s John Emmerich acknowledged that while some don’t believe delisting will ever occur, he’s optimistic that the delisting rule will be promulgated in 2005, kicking off the delisting process.

WG&F officials explained that current and past grizzly bear management has been restrictive and was meant to provide for an expanding bear population. Now recovery has been achieved and future management plans will be aimed at maintaining the population at a minimum of 500 bears. Grizzly habitat in the Cody/Meeteetsee region is now saturated, so any further population growth will probably occur in the southern portions of the ecosystem, including Sublette County.

Once distribution goals are met, WG&F will manage for a stabilized bear population, rather than allowing it to continue growth, according to WG&F Trophy Game Coordinator Dave Moody. Sport hunting and control of nuisance bears should allow the agency to keep bear densities low in the southern portion of the GRCA, he said.

“We’re not looking at a lot more bears than we have now,” Moody said. But that doesn’t mean that bears won’t move into areas outside the GBCA, Moody said, “Everybody needs to realize that.”

Bears that move outside the GBCA will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

When asked by Stan Murdock what the maximum number of grizzlies the WG&F will allow, Emmerich responded, “The public will let us know, by the level of conflicts.”

For more information on the grizzly bear occupancy proposal, check out the WG&F website at

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