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Subadult grizzly killed south of Ten Sleep for cattle depredation

A grizzly bear walks near Frying Pan Spring in Yellowstone National Park. (National Park Service/Jim Peaco)

GILLETTE, Wyo. — The first grizzly bear to be documented in an area south of the Bighorn Mountains in decades was euthanized Monday following confirmed reports of depredation of cattle, according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. 

The bear — a subadult, male grizzly — was identified as the culprit behind reports of an injured cow on private land south of Ten Sleep. The cow had wounds consistent with grizzly bear depredation, and wildlife managers observed tracks and signs suggesting the bear frequented the property for approximately one week. 

“The subadult, male grizzly bear was euthanized after consultation with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service due to its involvement in depredation and its behavior frequenting the ranch,” Game and Fish said in a press release. 

Per the release, the location of the conflict was 80 miles from the eastern boundary of what is known as the Demographic Monitoring Area — an area considered biologically and socially suitable for grizzly bears. The species has not been documented in the area since before the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem population was listed under the Endangered Species Act in the 1970s. 

Wyoming Game and Fish Director Brian Nesvik said the state’s grizzly bear population is managed and monitored where suitable habitat exists as designated by the USFWS and informed by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team. 

“The Bighorn Mountain Range is not suitable habitat and the department is not interested in allowing grizzly bears to occupy this area,” Nesvik said in a statement. “Their expansion into unsuitable habitat leads to increased conflict potential between bears and humans, which impedes the success of grizzly bear conservation.” 

In the lower 48, grizzly bears are listed as threatened under the ESA, and management authority rests with Fish and Wildlife, though nearly all grizzly bear conflicts are managed by Game and Fish, which conducts monitoring, research and public education following the department’s Grizzly Bear Management Plan.