Thursday, October 11, 2018

Nearly a dozen grizzlies euthanized since September

Once again grizzly bears are under federal management, and with change comes new protocols for human-bear conflicts. Hanging in the balance is a grizzly’s life — whether a bear is relocated or euthanized. Hilary Cooley, the grizzly bear recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the person now in charge of making those management calls on all grizzlies in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. When there’s a conflict — say, a grizzly on a back porch in Wapiti — the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s large carnivore biologists in the field call Brian DeBolt, the carnivore conflict manager. DeBolt then calls Cooley and all opinions are taken into consideration during a conference call. “Anytime we have any kind of conflict, we consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service,” DeBolt said. “We have internal discussion first, discussing the situation and what we feel is the appropriate action based on talking with federal and regional land managers. There’s lots of discussion until we all agree on the course.” As of Friday, Cooley had only been involved in the process for about a week and a half, but she’d already been busy. It’s been a particularly bad month for grizzly conflicts amid a bad year. About 30 bears have been lethally “removed” in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem in 2018. That includes 11 euthanizations just since Sept. 1. The removals make up about 60 percent of the 53 known and probable grizzly deaths in the region this year. There were 56 known and probable grizzly deaths in all of 2017. That’s just three more mortalities than the first nine months of this year, and hunting season — considered a high conflict period — has just begun...MORE

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