When wildlife managers checked a box trap set to catch a cattle-killing grizzly, they found the wrong bear inside.
During a trapping operation Aug. 24 the Wyoming Game and Fish Department caught an adult female grizzly that had no documented history of dining on cattle.
Wildlife managers really wanted to catch another bear known to be killing cattle on a grazing allotment west of Dubois on the Shoshone National Forest, according to Game and Fish large carnivore supervisor Dan Thompson.
Trying to catch the bear with a history of conflict, and trapping at the direction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Game and Fish baited a trap with a calf that had been killed by the suspected bear. The calf attracted the female grizzly instead.
Though she has no known history of cattle conflicts, Game and Fish decided to take preemptive action to prevent possible future livestock depredation.
“We moved her out of that direct vicinity so that temptation wasn’t there,” Thompson said.
They collared and relocated her to the Bridger-Teton’s Blackrock Creek, about 20 miles east of Moran Junction.
Typically, Game and Fish captures, tags and releases non-conflict bears in the same location where it finds them. But Game and Fish decided that scenario presented too high a potential for the female to start killing cattle.
“We didn’t want to put her right back in that same spot because there’s already dead cattle and cattle grazing,” Thompson said.
Game and Fish follows state and federal regulations when relocating bears. There are certain limited areas where the department can release bears. Those that are considered a threat to human safety are not relocated, according to Game and Fish.
Game and Fish chooses relocation sites by considering the age, sex and type of conflict a bear has been involved in and potential human activity near the relocation site. This particular site was chosen due to the lack of human presence in the area, Thompson said.
Thompson said that if the female bear had been the “target bear” she would have been moved father away. That same day Game and Fish did catch the bear it believed had been killing cattle and euthanized the animal, according to the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team’s mortality database.