Federal agencies trapped three of Grizzly 399’s cubs and then outfitted two with tracking collars before releasing all three Saturday to increase monitoring as a way to curb conflicts with people.

While the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service touted the successful collaring of two bears as necessary to keep the five-bear family safe, wildlife watchers saw the operation near Astoria Hot Springs as high risk for the well-being of the bears. The Fish and Wildlife Service led Saturday’s operation with other agencies assisting at their request.

“The Service recognizes the high level of interest in grizzly bear #399, and we thank all of our partners for coming together to do what we can to ensure both the safety of the public as well as the safety of #399 and her yearlings from growing risks of human-bear conflict,” USFWS Acting Regional Director Matt Hogan said in a news release. “This preventive step will help us mitigate further conflicts to protect grizzly bear #399, her yearlings, and the public.”

The yearling cubs “were released together in the presence of #399” and the fourth cub, which was not trapped, the release said. The service described a significant increase in the frequency of the five bears lingering near homes and getting into human sources of food, including beehives, animal feed and garbage.

Such “unsecured attractants” and surprise encounters set the stage for the most common human-bear conflicts, the service warned.

But Images of Nature wildlife photographer Tom Mangelsen questioned the risk of trapping five bears. Although the service released few details of the capture, wildlife watchers reported that Grizzly 399 and one cub ran up the mountainside after three of the cubs were captured, separating the bears for several hours Saturday.

“The reality of what they tried to do yesterday was fraught with real danger,” Mangelsen said Sunday. “It came so close to splitting up that family forever.”

The service emphasized that the public can do more to help by securing anything — from garbage to pet food — that attracts bears and making noise when bears come near homes so the wildlife animals don’t get too comfortable around people.

The Fish and Wildlife Service could not be reached for an interview during weekend hours.

Contact Mike Koshmrl at 732-7067 or env@jhnewsandguide.com.

Managing Editor Rebecca Huntington has worked for newspapers across the West. She hosts a rescue podcast, The Fine Line. Her family minivan doubles as her not-so-high-tech recording studio.

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(1) comment

JOhn Smothers

if we are gonna fair to all wildlife, I remember we had a problem bear like this before around jackson, and residents feeding them and ect.. Nothing was done about the people feeding them. The bear was just killed. So what makes 399 any different? Time to relocate her and her cubs to Montana.!!!!

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