In cooperation and at the direction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department recently captured and removed three grizzly bears southwest of Byron.
Cody Regional Wildlife Supervisor Dan Smith said this is the furthest east that a grizzly bear has been captured in recent history. “We have not had grizzly bears in this area of Bighorn County since well before grizzly bear recovery efforts began in the 1970s, but as grizzly populations continue to expand in distribution, bear sightings are occurring more and more in areas we would not normally expect to see them and in areas that are not considered suitable for bears. Most of these areas are more susceptible to conflicts between humans and bears,” Smith said.
Game and Fish first became aware of the presence of the grizzly bears (a sow and two cubs) when they were captured on a private individual’s remote trail camera. The bears were feeding on a dead cow on private land in a rural area southwest of Byron. Game and Fish actively monitored the situation and notified surrounding landowners of the presence of the bears and began coordinating with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, because grizzly bears are again a federally managed species.
Through camera surveillance, it was determined the bear was collared, which allowed for insight into the animals’ previous capture and conflict history. In 2013, the sow was captured near ranch buildings on private lands outside of Cody and in September of this year, the bear was captured in Park County for cattle depredation and relocated with two cubs to the Snake River Drainage in Teton County.
Using a flight on Oct. 24 and ground telemetry, it was determined the bears had localized feeding on a livestock carcass southwest of Byron on private land along the Shoshone River corridor. With direction from the USFWS, Game and Fish captured and removed the bears.
Game and Fish recommended removing the bears based on the previous conflict history, habituation to human activities, unsuccessful relocation attempt, and behavior of the bears in proximity to humans.