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Are grizzly bears expanding their territory?

Grizzly Bear

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Several recent grizzly bear sightings have surprised Washington and Idaho residents. Why? Because the bears seem to be expanding their territory and showing up in places where they previously haven’t been. According to the Bonner County Daily Bee, a 476-pound grizzly bear was spotted west of the Pend Oreille River in Washington this fall and, in July, a two-year-old male grizzly was discovered “prowling around a black-bear bait site in the Idaho Panhandle.”

“That was an eye-opener for the state of Washington,” Wayne Kasworm, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife (FWS) grizzly manager in Libby, Washington, told the Bonner County Daily Bee. “It was an unusual movement, like the bear in Stevensville and the bears showing up east of the Rocky Mountain Front. That was well outside of its expected range.”

The Idaho Panhandle bear was a result of a Cabinet-Yaak/Selkirk transplant. While FWS captured and released the bear back to its Montana home turf, the bear “returned to the bait site in September” and is likely heading toward “the border near Huron,” the Bonner County Daily Bee reports. Grizzly bears are currently protected under the federal Endangered Species Act and it is illegal to hunt them in the lower 48; therefore, it is important to be able to distinguish between the two when in the field.

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About 50 grizzly bears live in the Cabinet-Yaak and Selkirk recovery areas. These areas fall within Montana, Idaho and Washington and share a common Canadian border. About 1,000 grizzlies roam the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem and another 750 inhabit the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, according to the Bonner County Daily Bee.

“In just the last year, we’ve got bears in Stevensville and bears in Two Dot,” said Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee spokesman Dillon Tabish. “We’ve identified and drawn these recovery zones on the map, but bears don’t know about the boundaries. It’s important to educate and inform residents about this. They haven’t been used to being in bear country.”

3 Comments

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Dustin F. - posted 6 days ago on 12-11-2018 12:21:09 pm
Carmel Valley, CA
goHUNT INSIDER

"Unusual movement", really? Seems like the bear is doing bear things to me. Nothing unusual about an innately driven exploratory bear trying to escape his "normal" range containing a growing population density. This account should be considered to be another example of healthily growing grizzly population; especially in light of their historically known ranges. @JesseM, amen to that. Eventually we'll get there....maybe. I don't know how many more humans need to die by Grizzly to make that happen. @MarkA, sad stories man, keep the faith in the ability of laws to change. Zoo's are evil.

Mark A. - posted 1 week ago on 12-09-2018 01:15:08 pm
Lake Villa IL
goHUNT INSIDER

Seems to be the same story I heard when fisher and wolves showed up in upper Michigan. We had no idea. Oops it was them not us. No more grouse or deer. We did get moose from Canada but of course no hunting them. Left turned it into a zoo for city folk. Watch your six.

Jesse M. - posted 1 week ago on 12-08-2018 04:33:40 pm

They should be open season when they end up in places they shouldn't be.