Neighborhood Bears Eating Breakfast

Jackson Hole News & Guide, Mike Koshmrl- A hungry black bear with a taste for human food forced the closure of an entire westslope Teton Range campground before it was captured and killed Monday.

The bruin, a female about 3 years old, was displaying behavior bold and dangerous enough that wildlife managers opted to end the animal’s life even though it had no previous record of bad behavior, Wyoming Game and Fish Department spokesman Mark Gocke said.

“It had collapsed a couple of occupied tents and one unoccupied tent and it charged a person at one point,” Gocke said. “And a lot of this was going on during the day, which is another sign of pretty bold behavior.”

Game and Fish learned of the sow causing problems at the Teton Canyon Campground on June 27, but by that time the animal had already been active in the area for a week, Gocke said.

Caribou-Targhee National Forest Supervisor Garth Smelser signed an emergency order closing the campground because of the bear and to give Game and Fish space to capture the animal.

Before nabbing the suspect bruin, traps first caught a non-target black bear. Because it was captured within a campground, the animal was given a lift to Togwotee Pass and released.

Game and Fish carnivore specialists were confident that the sow captured and killed later that day was in fact the troublemaking bruin.

“It matched up to the photos we had and the tracks that we had and the descriptions that we had been given by a lot of people in the campground,” Gocke said. “Given its behavior, we didn’t feel like it should be released, so we removed it from the population.”

The Caribou-Targhee is planning on reopening the 22-site Teton Canyon Campground at noon Thursday. An area closure that barred access to adjacent trailheads, dispersed campsites and forestland within a mile of the campground will also be lifted.

The now-dead Teton Canyon Campground bear was the second black bear in Teton County put down this year. Gocke recalled an earlier incident that resulted in a bruin being euthanized near Hoback, though details weren’t immediately available.

Plentiful natural foods have generally kept bears out of developed areas in Jackson Hole to date, though of late there’s been an uptick in activity.

“Here in the last week or so things have started picking up,” Gocke said.

In late June a solo black bear cub wandered through the Melody Ranch, 3 Creek and Rafter J neighborhoods in broad daylight, and this Saturday another young bruin made its way through the heart of Jackson in the middle of the day.

Police received reports that the bear crossed West Broadway by Jackson Hole Whitewater, and it was later spotted near Snake River Brewery, Lt. Cole Nethercott said. The animal found itself back in its natural environment on the treed slopes near Snow King.

Gocke cautioned Teton Canyon campers to remain on guard and urged them to obey the Caribou-Targhee’s food storage regulations.

“That place is really good bear habitat,” Gocke said. “Over the years we’ve always had bears in that canyon cause conflict and to think that was the only bear there causing conflict wouldn’t be accurate.”

“So,” he said, “it’s really important that people take care of their bear attractants.”


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