The research involves baiting and trapping bears at several sites within Yellowstone. Once trapped, bears are sedated and studied in accordance with strict protocols developed by the IGBST.
It’s been a strange year on the Yellowstone weather front, as we’ll discuss in another article to be posted later. Because of the late spring and relatively mild and wet summer (relatively, anyway; things are drying up fast), Yellowstone wildlife has been able to stick to the lowlands (where the people are) and not been forced to find food in higher areas. While that’s been good for wildlife watching, it’s not been good for grizzlies seeking to stay away from people.
Researchers will initiate trapping efforts near Hayden Valley, an area with high levels of bear activity and near the location of a recent hiker death. Data collected by the IGBST may help to inform the park’s ongoing investigation to identify the bear implicated in the death of a hiker recently found dead on a backcountry trail near Hayden Valley.
Major access points to any areas utilized for trapping and research will be posted with high-visibility signs closing the area to the public. Watch for them: last summer a part-time Wyoming resident was killed outside the East Entrance after not seeing warnings frim IGNST researchers.
None of the trap sites in the park will be located near any established hiking trails or backcountry campsites, with the exception of those along the temporarily closed Mary Mountain Trail and Cygnet Lakes Trail.
Backcountry users who come upon any of these posted areas need to heed the warnings and stay out of the area.
The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team is composed of representatives of the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribal Fish and Game Department, and the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. It was formed in 1973 in response to population impacts that resulted from the National Park Service’s decision to close open pit garbage dumps and transition to natural ecosystem management of wildlife. Monitoring bear distribution and activities is a vital component of the ongoing recovery of grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.