Grizzly Bears are a threatened species protected under the Endangered Species Act. At their peak, grizzly bears numbered over 50,000 in the lower 48 states. Today there are fewer than two thousand across six protected management areas in the Northern Rocky Mountains. Grizzly Bear management is lead by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IBGC) composed of federal and state agencies in the region. Wyoming is home to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) Recovery Zone. Grizzly Bears in Wyoming have recovered to numbers greater than 700 where as few as 136 bears remained in 1975. As recovery continues, the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho are advocating for the delisting of grizzly bears and the return of control of their populations to the states even though states have proven they are not capable of properly managing these species. Grizzly Bears were delisted in 2017, but a federal judge in Montana restored the protection in 2018.

Many issues exist for the recovery of grizzly bears in the GYE. Especially concerning are conflicts with livestock and hunters. Livestock conflicts are prominent due to the expanding range of grizzly bears as they search for additional food sources. Cattle and sheep grazing on public lands largely unattended has led to great number of conflicts with livestock and a large number of mortalities for this recovering species. Better methods of livestock management and preventative deterrents are needed for the species and ranchers to thrive on the same landscapes. Hunter conflict is also prominent, and there is a lack of transparency related to these conflicts and many hunters refusing to carry bear spray.

This website is designed to outline the conflicts between grizzly bears and humans across the GYE Recovery Zone in hopes of finding better ways to manage these populations by identifying locations of high conflict and mortality. We believe this information should be public and easily accessible as these animals are important not only to the GYE but also to the economic health of the state of Wyoming. We have created maps and done some analyses for the years since 2015, viewing them as the most relevant for modern grizzly bear management. This website will continue to be supported and updated each year following the release of yearly grizzly bear conflict and mortality reports. (Last updated 5/2021)

Grizzly Bear Conflict 2019

Number of Conflicts

  • Total Conflict
  • Captures
  • Releases
  • Total Mortalities

Data from WGFD Job Completion Report and USGS Mortality Report

Breakdown of Total Conflict

  • Livestock and Landowner
  • Front Country
  • Back Country
  • Other

Data from WGFD Job Completion Report.

Conflict in 2019 was down from 2018 and continues to be significantly lower than that of 2015. 2019 had lowest grizzly bear mortalities of any year since 2015. Conflict trends remain similar to previous years with the greatest number being connected to livestock and landowners followed by front country conflicts. Back country conflict numbers are limited as discussed below.

Grizzly Bear conflicts reported for the 2019 calendar year should be viewed as a minimum number of conflicts. Due to lack of accessibility to all conflicts after grizzly bears were relisted in 2018, there are few reported for the backcountry this year. This is unlikely looking at the trends of reported conflicts from previous years. Missing data makes a full understanding of the conflict from this year difficult and imprecise.

The range of locations for conflict in 2019 was smaller than any other year, although the locations all have higher concentrations of conflict. Park and Sublette Counties each had two high conflict areas while Hot Springs and Teton Counties each had one. Fremont and Park Counties had most conflicts along regional highways. Sublette and Hot Springs Counties have had little variation of conflict areas over the last 5 years representing areas of chronic issue. Conflict in Teton County around Jackson increased for the second straight year.

Data for Grizzly Bear Conflict in 2019 came from two sources. The USGS mortality report and the Wyoming Game and Fish Job Completion Report (WGF JCR). The polygons on the interactive map are made based off of conflict areas shown in the WGF JCR. These polygons represent general areas of conflict, but may not contain the actual locations. The heat map for the number of conflicts in each polygon is estimated from the WFG JCR. These are not exact numbers and should be seen as estimates for number of conflicts in a given area.

Grizzly Bear Mortality

  • Management
  • Vehicle
  • Hunter
  • Under Investigation
  • Natural
  • Other

Grizzly Bear mortalities in 2019 were the lowest since 2015. Management mortalities returned to the average since 2015 of around 20 excluding 2018 and remain the primary source of mortality in grizzly bear populations. Fewer hunter mortalities were known for this year due to the number of documents accessible to us. Mortality data is sourced completely from the USGS annual mortality report for 2019.

Grizzly Bear Conflict 2018

Grizzly Bear Conflicts in 2018 were up from 2017. With the delisting of grizzly bears, transparency for the conflicts was better than in listed years.  While the decision to relist grizzly bears as a threatened species by a judge in Montana is beneficial for the species, transparency significantly decreased with respect to backcountry incidents. Due to the change, hunter conflicts appear to be down from 2017, but we do not have the documents to definitively support this claim. Mortalities were the highest they have ben since 2015.

Northern Sublette County and Western Hot Springs County have high grizzly bear conflict with a new high conflict zone in Park County. The majority of known grizzly bear mortality locations are found in hot spots for conflict. Teton County saw a large increase in conflicts from 2018 and regular low conflict zones show much higher numbers this year. Conflict in Park County continues to have conflict focused along highways in the region while the rest of the counties had conflict more focused around river drainages.

Data for Grizzly Bear Conflict in 2018 came from three sources. The USGS mortality report, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department Job Completion Report (WGF JCR), and Wyoming Game and Fish Department law enforcement incident reports. The polygons on the interactive map are made based off of conflict areas shown in the WGF JCR. These polygons represent general areas of conflict, but may not contain the actual locations. The heat map for the number of conflicts in each polygon is estimated from the WFG JCR. These are not exact numbers and should be seen as estimates for number of conflicts in a given area.

Number of Conflicts

  • Total Conflict
  • Captures
  • Releases
  • Total Mortalities

Data from WGFD Job Completion Report and USGS Mortality Report

Breakdown of Total Conflict

  • Livestock and Landowner
  • Front Country
  • Back Country
  • Other

Data from WGFD Job Completion Report and USGS Mortality Report

Grizzly Bear Mortality

  • Management
  • Vehicle
  • Hunter
  • Under Investigation
  • Natural
  • Other

Mortalities in 2018 were the highest they have been since 2015. Mortalities were dominantly management related, being higher than any other year by at least 13 at 34. 2018 also represent the year of highest number of mortalities listed as known but under investigation. Hunter conflicts remained higher than previous years due to some transparency before the relisting.

Grizzly Bear Conflict 2017

Number of Conflicts

  • Total Conflict
  • Captures
  • Releases
  • Total Mortalities

Data from WGFD Job Completion Report and USGS Mortality Report

Breakdown of Total Conflict

  • Livestock and Landowner coflict
  • Front Country Conflict
  • Back Country Conflict
  • Other

Data from WGFD Job Completion Report and USGS Mortality Report

2017 is the first year where grizzly bears are not protected as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Despite this change in protection, conflicts were down from 2016. Due to the delisting of grizzly bears, transparency of backcountry conflicts was greater than listed years resulting in the highest number of known hunter conflicts since 2015. Hunter related mortalities were at 10 out of a total of 13 known backcountry conflicts.

Northern Sublette County and Western Hot Springs County remained locations with high grizzly bear conflict, likely due to interactions with livestock and landowner conflicts. Park County had a larger diversity of locations where conflict took place, but overall decreased in the number of conflicts. Fremont, Park, and Teton Counties continue to see conflict focused around highways going through the region. Most conflict continues to appear to take place along river drainages which makes sense as an easy and needed transportation route for grizzly bears.

Data for Grizzly Bear Conflict in 2017 came from three sources. The USGS mortality report, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department Job Completion Report (WGF JCR), and Wyoming Game and Fish Department law enforcement incident reports. The polygons on the interactive map are made based off of conflict areas shown in the WGF JCR. These polygons represent general areas of conflict, but may not contain the actual locations. The heat map for the number of conflicts in each polygon is estimated from the WFG JCR. These are not exact numbers and should be seen as estimates for number of conflicts in a given area.

Grizzly Bear Mortality

  • Management
  • Vehicle
  • Hunter
  • Under Investigation
  • Natural
  • Other

Mortality in 2017 was down from 2016. Vehicle mortalities dropped back down to that of 2015 after a high year in 2016. Hunter mortalities were up significantly from 2016. This is likely due to increased transparency about backcountry conflict due to the delisting of grizzly bears this year. Management mortalities still was the largest source with a large number of uncategorized mortalities.

Grizzly Bear Conflict 2016

2016 was a better year for Grizzly Bears than 2015. Conflicts in 2016 decreased from those in 2015 by over 100. Conflict information should be viewed as less than the total number of conflicts in the year as it is unclear if all the backcountry conflicts are reported. The number of mortalities increased in 2016.

Sublette and Fremont Counties continued to have areas of high conflict while Park  and Hot Spring Counties saw in increase in conflict density. The total drop of conflicts across the region is primarily due to less conflict in Sublette County. Teton County also had less conflict in 2016 than it had in 2015.

Data for Grizzly Bear Conflict in 2016 came from three sources. The USGS mortality report, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department Job Completion Report (WGF JCR), and US Fish and Wildlife Department law enforcement incident reports. The polygons on the interactive map are made based off of conflict areas shown in the WGF JCR. These polygons represent general areas of conflict, but may not contain the actual locations. The heat map for the number of conflicts in each polygon is estimated from the WFG JCR. These are not exact numbers and should be seen as estimates for number of conflicts in a given area.

Number of Conflicts

  • Total Conflict
  • Captures
  • Releases
  • Total Mortalities

Data from WGFD Job Completion Report and USGS Mortality Report

Breakdown of Total Conflict

  • Livestock and Landowner coflict
  • Front Country Conflict
  • Back Country Conflict
  • Other

Data from WGFD Job Completion Report and USGS Mortality Report

Grizzly Bear Mortality

  • Management
  • Vehicle
  • Hunter
  • Under Investigation
  • Natural
  • Other

Grizzly Bear Mortalities in 2016 are similar to those from 2015 with two main differences. Hunter related mortalities decreased in 2016, and vehicle related mortalities increased significantly in 2016. The large increase in grizzly bear mortalities due to vehicle crashes is very significant and show a large and potentially manageable conflict area.

Grizzly Bear Conflict 2015

Number of Conflicts

  • Total Conflict
  • Captures
  • Releases
  • Total Mortalities

Data from WGFD Job Completion Report and USGS Mortality Report

Breakdown of Total Conflict

  • Livestock and Landowner coflict
  • Front Country Conflict
  • Back Country Conflict
  • Other

Data from WGFD Job Completion Report and USGS Mortality Report

Grizzly Bear Conflict in 2015 was very high at 330 conflicts. These conflicts were primarily in northern Sublette County and along the highway in Fremont County. Hot Springs County also saw a large number of conflicts in a smaller region compared to Park and Teton Counties.

Data for Grizzly Bear Conflict in 2016 came from three sources. The USGS mortality report, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department Job Completion Report (WGF JCR), and US Fish and Wildlife Department law enforcement incident reports. The polygons on the interactive map are made based off of conflict areas shown in the WGF JCR. These polygons represent general areas of conflict, but may not contain the actual locations. The heat map for the number of conflicts in each polygon is estimated from the WFG JCR. These are not exact numbers and should be seen as estimates for number of conflicts in a given area.

Grizzly Bear Mortality

  • Management
  • Vehicle
  • Hunter
  • Under Investigation
  • Natural
  • Other

Mortalities in 2015 were dominated by management actions with the next most being backcountry conflicts with hunters. There was only a single vehicle mortality with a high number of uncategorized mortalities.

Preventing Conflicts

DON’T FEED THE BEARS!

The simple procedures described below can ensure that bears can live alongside us and continue to stay wild and not rely on unnatural food sources. Hunting will not reduce conflicts as bears are mostly solitary and bears that are killed cannot teach other bears to fear humans.

Read more about why hunting won’t reduce grizzly/human conflicts by clicking here:

Common Myths Regarding Grizzly Bear Management

Please tell your neighbors and friends about how to keep a bear safe property and what to do if they see bears in their neighborhood.

Removing bird feeders and securing our trash, chickens, and compost piles are probably the most important factors to keeping all bears, both black and grizzly, safe.

Don’t give bears a reason to stop at your house, keep them moving along to find natural foods.

Tips to keep a bear safe property

Use electric fencing around beehives, chicken coops, gardens, and compost piles
Remove bird feeders or hang them at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet away from the tree or pole – this includes hummingbird feeders
Use a bear proof trash can or store trash cans inside a structure until the day of pickup
Don’t overfill the can, if it doesn’t fit, save it until next week or take it to the dump
Feed pets inside – store pet food inside
Store livestock grain inside
Pick fruit from fruit trees and shrubs
Store BBQ grills inside or clean well after use
Remove all salt and mineral blocks from your property
SLOW DOWN when driving! 45mph at night and be alert for reflections of eyes on the side of the road

Tips for ethical wildlife viewing and photography

View from a safe distance – 25 yards from all wildlife, 100 yards from bears
Pull completely off the road – all four tires on the right hand side of the white line
Don’t approach or feed bears
Don’t throw trash or food waste from a vehicle
Always be respectful of wildlife. You’re a guest in their home. Keep quiet – don’t slam doors, shout to get their attention or intrude on their space

When in the park or on public lands DO NOT let bears obtain human food – secure coolers in a car, don’t leave your picnic unattended, stop to let bears cross roads

The Bear Wise website has lots of information on how to have a bear-safe home.

Resources

Wyoming Game and Fish Department website

USGS Grizzly Bear Mortality website

Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team website

Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee website

US Fish and Wildlife Services website

Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Department website

Idaho Fish and Game Department website