Yellowstone-Area Grizzly Population Growing

By Beacon Staff

The grizzly bear population around Yellowstone National Park appears to be stable and growing, according to experts in Wyoming.

A story in the Casper Star-Tribune reports that an estimated 608 grizzlies live in the Yellowstone ecosystem, an increase over last year’s estimated population of 593.

So far this year 50 grizzlies have died in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, up from 44 last year. Mark Bruscino of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department said that bear deaths are up because the growing population has expanded its range, creating more potential for conflicts. The death rate is considered sustainable.

Six recent grizzly deaths in Wyoming are being investigated as human-caused. Few details have been released but they come at a time when grizzly-hunter encounters are most frequent.

In Northwest Montana, researchers continue work on the Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Project through next year. The project is gathering information about the grizzly population in a 2.4-million-acre section of land in the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness and Yaak River drainage. The Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem is one of six recovery zones identified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the lower 48 states where suitable habitat remains for grizzly bears. There is believed to be between 30-40 grizzlies within the recovery zone.

Researchers are gathering hair samples of individual grizzlies, which will help establish a population estimate, density and distribution.

This project is a collaboration of state, federal and tribal agencies and the University of Montana.

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