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Wildlife officials: Expect 'tough' road ahead for 399 and her cubs

Wildlife officials: Expect 'tough' road ahead for 399 and her cubs
By Billy Arnold


Hilary Cooley is worried about the season ahead for Grizzly 399 and her cubs, who have yet to emerge from hibernation.

“The future’s not so bright for these guys,” she said during a meeting of state and federal wildlife and land managers Wednesday in Jackson. “They’ve been in a lot of trouble.”

Cooley is the grizzly bear recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who was called into Jackson Hole last fall to manage 399’s foray into the southern reaches of the valley. In a separate Wednesday evening press conference largely focused on the famous 399 and her brood, she and other officials urged Teton County residents to do their part to protect them and other bears: Securing attractants like livestock feed, compost and beehives, and storing garbage inside and in bear-resistant trash cans if it’s outside.

All of that is likely to be required by Teton County if the Teton County Board of County Commissioners passes an update to land development regulations Tuesday aimed at reducing human-wildlife conflicts. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has supported those regulations throughout the process.

But the new code likely won’t go into effect until July 1, after 399, her cubs and other grizzlies emerge from their dens.

In that light, wildlife officials are urging individual action to prevent conflict and avoid more drastic management actions.

“It’s not just agencies that can do things,” Cooley said. “It’s probably more important that the public take action, secure their attractants.”

But, if preventative measures fail and 399 or her cubs get into human-related foods, management options like hazing, relocation, euthanasia and sending bears to zoos are being considered.

"All options are on the table,” said Dan Thompson, Wyoming Game and Fish’s large carnivore supervisor.

Read more about officials' concerns and a grizzly advocate's reaction on the cover of this weekend's Jackson Hole Daily.

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