Update, 9:44 a.m., Monday: Grizzly 863 has been spotted in the area where her cub was last seen, Wyoming Game and Fish Department spokeswoman Rene Schell said Monday.

Wildlife managers are hoping the mother grizzly will reunite with her cub. The two separated after the mother bear was allegedly hit by a car, though that report has not been confirmed by authorities. 

"We have seen her," Schell said. "It's exciting that she's moving normally, and she's back in the area... where we've had reports the cub has been seen."

Original article: Wildlife managers are monitoring the whereabouts of grizzly 863 after a vehicle may have struck the bear, which has been causing a wildlife-watching sensation by frequenting the roadside along Togwotee Pass with her cub.

“We have it as a secondhand report,” said Brad Hovinga, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Jackson regional supervisor.

Game and Fish responded to a report that bear 863 — not her cub — had been struck by a vehicle by initiating a ground search. Unable to locate her on the ground, the agency decided to fly over the area, Hovinga said Thursday.

Game and Fish did not see bear 863, but located a signal from her GPS tracking collar, which was not giving off a mortality signal.

“She was actually 3 miles north of that location” where she was reportedly hit, Hovinga said. “Based on the reports, it didn’t sound like the cub was with her.”

Game and Fish has been fielding reports of the cub showing up along the roadside. One wildlife watcher posted pictures on social media of a lone cub photographed Thursday hanging out along the highway without a mother bear in sight.

“We’re monitoring that 863 sow, and we’re trying to monitor that cub if it shows back up around the road,” Hovinga said. “We’re currently working with [the U.S.] Fish and Wildlife Service, because they have the call about how this is handled.”

Grizzly 863 has gained notoriety and sparked debate about how to manage roadside bears. Nicknamed Felicia by wildlife watchers, she originally had two cubs.

On the morning of May 14, she became separated from her cubs likely while dodging an aggressive male. Wildlife watchers witnessed her fruitlessly searching for the two younglings, her first litter.

Game and Fish then used horn honking and cracker shells to shoo her away from Highway 26.

Photographers and bear advocates have questioned the hazing, while wildlife managers have warned that the bears don’t mix well with fast-moving vehicles and people.

Experts hypothesize that such bears, typically females, are making a strategic choice when they position themselves along busy roads. They’re trying to avoid males that, in their attempt to mate with as many females as possible, will often kill cubs to cause the mother’s body to revert to reproductive mode.

Felicia reunited the next day with one cub but not the other.

As the mother and cub continued returning to the roadside, the Bridger-Teton National Forest and the Wyoming Department of Transportation have posted reduced speed limits and digital signs just outside Jackson and just west of Dubois to alert drivers to the wandering grizzlies in the area.

Bridger-Teton spokesman Evan Guzik said forest staff are working with Game and Fish to do what they can to keep the bears and people safe.

“We have signs up there. We have personnel up there. And we’re coordinating with Game and Fish to make sure there is a presence,” Guzik said Friday.

Togwotee Pass has spelled doom for at least two grizzlies in recent years.

Contact Rebecca Huntington at 732-7078 or rebecca@jhnewsandguide.com.

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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.

(4) comments

Ken Chison

As I posted before, the; only choice for this bear was death. Now all you local photographers and gawkers can be proud of yourselves for yet 2 more grizzly deaths. You have habituated this bear and her cub to your presence, and rewards, causing her to seek sanctuary on the road. Once you finally figure out that there is an overabundance of bears, for the amount of available territory, you might finally realize why their population needs controlled. Heaven forbid the tourists or local photographers would have to venture off of the asphalt for their prized pictures. And thino what you want about Brad. He dang sure knows way more about large carnivores then you, me and all the other supposed experts that comment here from all around the country He spends more time in the field each year, then every keyboard warrior on here. Just the beginning of a long summer of bear management control for the feds.

Jay Westemeier

Since we continue to see more Moose and Elk killed on Wyoming's highways, I suppose we can conclude that there is an overabundance of those species too. You hunters are doing a terrible job of controlling these problems.

Michael Grasseschi

love it Jay... we can count on Ken to bring all kinds of wackiness into the conversation... but blaming photographers for their deaths then calling for then end of all grizzlies ( cuz there's too many!!-I guess, and he is clearly the expert on that)) just doesn't make sense...

Mike Thomas

Brad Hovinga, Bear management genius - not!!

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