Grizzly bear managers in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are trying a new strategy of trapping and moving grizzlies as soon as they appear near populated areas, regardless of whether they have caused any trouble.
Until now, moving bears has been used only as a last resort, generally after a bear has committed an offense such as charging a car or taking human food."This way we would move them before they get into trouble," said Interagency Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator Chris Servheen. "Moving doesn't count against the bear. It wouldn't go on its record as an offense that could lead to its removal altogether."
The plan was spurred by the removal last month of a female grizzly known as bear 134, which had become used to feeding on cutthroat trout spawning in streams near Lake Lodge and Hotel in Yellowstone. She had not bothered humans or fed on their garbage.
She had been moved several times within Yellowstone, but returned each time to the Lake area, so in mid-April she was captured and shipped to a research facility in Washington state.
"This is a whole new wrinkle - five years ago we didn't even discuss this type of bear," said Committee member Marshall Gingery, assistant superintendent of Grand Teton National Park.
Bear 134 and her cub had come to tolerate tourists who approached to take photographs. In 1986, another tolerant female grizzly, bear 59, killed a photographer who had apparently approached her to within a few feet.