(Cheyenne, WY) – The 2021 Annual Report of Grizzly Bear Management Captures, Relocations and Removals completed by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is available on the department website. The annual report is required by state statute and quantifies management actions by the Game and Fish in relation to grizzly bear conflict resolution in Wyoming outside national parks and the Wind River Reservation.
Because grizzly bears remain under federal protection, Game and Fish manages them in Wyoming under the direction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. During 2021 in response to conflicts investigated by Game and Fish, Large Carnivore Section personnel captured 45 individual grizzly bears in an attempt to prevent or resolve conflicts. Most captures were adult males.
“In comparison to last year, conflicts — especially with livestock — increased. This is due to the growing number of bears on the landscape expanding beyond their suitable range and spilling into areas they haven’t been in recent history,” said Brian DeBolt, Game and Fish large carnivore conflict coordinator. “Game and Fish tries to mitigate conflicts with proactive strategies and a great deal of educational efforts for people living, working and recreating in these areas. However, sometimes a direct management action — like a relocation — is necessary to minimize human-bear conflicts.”
Relocations are becoming increasingly difficult, noted DeBolt. Nineteen grizzly bears were relocated to U.S. Forest Service land in or adjacent to the core grizzly bear habitat referred to as the “recovery zone.” Nearly twice as many grizzly bears were relocated in 2021 compared to 2020.
“It’s becoming more challenging to find a suitable relocation option for conflict bears. A successful relocation site needs to be somewhere the bear won’t immediately find itself back into conflicts with people or livestock, has suitable range as well as some biological factors. Sites are limited right now due to high grizzly bear population densities,” DeBolt said.
Proactive efforts to prevent grizzly bear conflicts remain a cornerstone to the department’s work with livestock producers and recreationalists.
“Our primary goal is to work with producers and land management agencies in any way we can to reduce livestock depredation risk. Game and Fish does all it can to prevent conflicts from occurring,” DeBolt said. “Further, the department continues to prioritize efforts like Bear Wise Wyoming, a program that teaches people how to live with bears and minizine conflict potential while recreating outdoors.”
Grizzly bears are relocated or removed in accordance with state and federal laws, regulations and policy. More about how the Game and Fish manages grizzly bears in Wyoming is available online. Game and Fish also continues to educate the public about how to proactively live and recreate in bear country to avoid conflicts as part of Bear Wise Wyoming — a program that started in the early 2000s.