Have People & Grizzlies Learned to Live Together in Wyoming?
On the television show, 60 Minutes came this story:
When Lewis and Clark first encountered grizzly bears, there may have been a hundred thousand of them in the American West, from what is now Canada all the way down to Mexico. By the 1960s there were just a few hundred left in the lower 48 states. In 1975, grizzly bears were among the first animals to be protected under the Endangered Species Act. (CBS NEWS).
Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks had only a few hundred Grizzly's under protection. 45 years ago the recovery began in those two parks.
But the problem is that the population of humans around Yellowstone and Glacier Park has boomed over the decades. Bears eat anything they think is edible. That means that in these beautiful new neighborhoods, while humans sleep, bears wander.
The problem has also been a big one for people with pets and livestock. There are ranchers who have up to 30 cows a year killed by grizzlies. They also tear up corn and other crops.
One farmer in Montana said that he had 18 bears in his cornfield. No one believed him until he showed camera footage of it.
Add to that, more people than ever are enjoying recreation in the wilderness. Hiking, biking, jogging, motorsports. It is rarely good when humans and bears meet out there.
So what's the solution?
Electric fences are being put up around ranches, fields, even chicken coops. Bears are smart enough to test them and back off if the fence is hot.
Trouble-making bears are often captured in traps. There is a 3 strikes your out program where they are relocated 3 times. If the bear keeps going back to where humans are, because it thinks that's where the food is, it will then be killed. In 2019 nearly 50 grizzlies were killed because they were a danger to humans.
Two people have been killed in Montana this year by grizzlies. A man who was fishing in a river and a woman who was pulled out of her tent.
One gentleman being interviewed in this 60 Minutes story, which you can watch below, makes the point that the bears are not going anywhere and neither are the humans. So the humans are trying to think of ways to make the situation a bit more... bear-able.