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Rockstars vs. Grizzlies

When I use the word “rockstar” I don’t think of grizzly bears. In fact, that is the last thing I think of. But if we step back to yesteryear when hair bands ruled the airwaves and their wild partying was the stuff of legends maybe “rockstar” is the appropriate title to give to a grizzly bear that feeds its four offspring from the trash of high end Jackson Hole neighborhoods. Or teaching it’s Cubs that beehives are an appropriate delicacy for their entitled, endangered lives. Much like the rock stars who trashed hotel rooms these bears are certainly crashing the party in Jackson Hole. Even better is that 399 has her own twitter feed and instagram accounts documenting her life. How she manages to run those accounts without opposable thumbs is rather curious. Maybe she employs social media strategists?

Even though the sarcasm is strong in this article, the humanization of animals has done far more to harm animals than help. I mean what is the difference between a rockstar bear and Axl Rose misbehaving? The difference is, the bears are just being themselves and will do what is necessary for survival. She is an aged bear who at this juncture has one goal and that is to live a little longer and make sure her cubs survive after they leave her. Rockstars on the other hand knew better but did it anyway because you know, their reputations and ego needed it. Bear 399 is doing her best to ensure the survival of her cubs but is in turn putting them in future jeopardy. Bears will be bears and just being herself, 399 may end up putting her entire Motley Crue in the crosshairs. 

How is she putting them in danger you ask? She is teaching them not to fear humans and in turn that a trash dumpster filled with all kinds of goodies with a side of beehive honey fresh off the comb is a good choice. In reality this is a very bad choice for the famous bear. The end result, in late October those behaviors turned into multiple agencies having to “harass” her to leave Jackson and push her away from potential areas of conflict. The bigger problem is that she is teaching four more bears to do the same and at some point this will result in conflict, at a minimum, injury and at worst, death for someone living or visiting Jackson and the bears being euthanized for their behavior. 

This is where her status as a “rockstar” gets complicated. A bear doesn’t operate like a human, we can’t put her in bear jail or rehab. Once habits are formed it is nearly impossible to end them. The worst part is that someone likely fed her and taught her the behavior. This ends in 399 and the cubs meeting an early demise or being moved with another strike against her name for “bad” behavior.

Therein lies an even bigger issue, she has a rap sheet a mile long. This isn’t the first time that she has been escorted away from human dwellings and development, in fact it may be as many as 10 times. Is 399 getting a bit more grace than the usual three strike rule that most grizzly bears get? My gut says probably, would you want to be the person who takes the “rockstar” in for the death sentence? I know I wouldn’t and honestly I feel for the agencies that are having to deal with this mess, it isn’t pretty.

Bottom line, if we want to make a dent in these situations we need to fight for delisting and work to turn grizzly bears back into the game animals they are in the hearts and minds of people. If she has to be euthanized it will end with protest from the same people who likely fed her and the cubs. Chances are she would be raising these cubs at a higher elevation, prepping for her long winter nap far from this danger if she hadn’t learned about easy food sources provided by humans. 

What say you? How do you think the situation ends?

About Scott Reekers

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3 comments

  1. The bottom line here and I use this term very seldom these day’s is COMMON SENSE. You see instances or read about them all the time when visitors to Yellow Stone National Park don’t heed the warning signs that are posted about getting to close to, feeding, or harassing wildlife but they ignore the signs and do it anyway. In the end someone or something looses. What I’m trying to say is if you build a chicken coop and leave a hole in the fence you can’t blame the fox for killing your chickens, your chickens are dead because you were to stupid to build a fence with a hole in it in the first place.

  2. As a hunter that has survived a Grizzly attack, I agree with Common Sense post. Without Grizzly having any fear of man their true nature is changed in many ways. Unlike the bear fed in town, my attack was the result of the Grizzzly not being afraid of a shot, but rather thinking of it as a dinner bell. I dont blame my attack on the bear though in any way. I went into his house and not being careful enough returning to a kill, I asked for what I received. The solution to both types of problems is for them to be hunted in a small quantity and pushed away from people and have a fear of the sound of a gun. That would stilll take a long time to fix the problem, but we have to start somewhere.

  3. We have seen 399 and her 4 cubs a couple times , once at oxbow bend and another near moose, and both times there were 50-100 cars parked a 1/2 mile each way of her.We couldn’t figure out how so many people were there at the exact spot where we turned her up, so my wife googled 399 and right there on social media is info on where she has been spotted yesterday, last week, last month, etc. those bears have no peace because 100’s of people are on them, constantly being fed new information of her location. We were thinking she probably hangs close to civilization to keep her cubs safe from the males, whitch will kill the cubs so they can breed 399 again, but now she is a social media star; I’m pretty sure she would probably be safer fighting off an occasional male in the backcountry than being in the position she has to deal with on a daily basis around people .social media is bad at times for humans, and it hasn’t done 399 any good either. I hope it ends up a happy ending for 399 and her cubs, she (they) deserve it.

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