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2011 Bear Attacks Not Out Of Ordinary

An Island Park hunter is resting at home tonight after a bear attack this weekend, and it seems as though there have been quite a few bear stories in the news lately. But this year is not out of the ordinary for Eastern Idaho and Western Wyoming where living with bears comes with the territory.

With two very different species living in one habitat, there are bound to be encounters.

So far in 2011, grizzlies have charged at people 53 times, resulting in eight injuries and two deaths. Many of these incidents have happened right in our area.

The two deaths that occurred right in the middle of Yellowstone National Park, the first in 25 years, have had people talking.

“We do believe that in the Yellowstone area grizzly bear numbers are on the increase, which is the goal of grizzly recovery,” said Gregg Losinski, the regional wildlife conservation educator at Idaho Fish and Game. “The core area of the park is full, with grizzlies recolonizing areas where they once had been. The problem is now we’re there.”

One of the ways to help Idaho Fish and Game keep track of grizzly bears is to log onto their website ( every time one is spotted and report it.

A big misconception is that once a grizzly has been spotted, they can easily be moved away.

“There’s no way we can move a grizzly bear to somewhere in the Yellowstone area that he won’t either come back to the area he came from, or continue the same habits,” said Losinski.

But grizzlies are not the only type of bear to be aware of; black bears are also dangerous.

“Don’t underestimate black bears, most people stay away from grizzlies but look at black bears as cuddly or cute,” said Losinski.

Every year there are just about as many black bear attacks as there are grizzly, but there are many more black bears in the U.S. than grizzlies.

One tool that Fish and Game cannot stress enough is bear spray.

And believe it or not, it is a better choice than a gun.

“The spray just pushes the bear away, it doesn’t injure the bear,” said Losinski. “If you take a shot at a bear and you don’t kill it, then you’ve got an angry bear running around the woods that we definitely have to deal with.”

Another piece of advice that sounds like common sense is to not approach or follow bears. And never offer them food. Just keep your distance.

This year at Grand Teton National Park alone there have been six reports of people following or harassing bears. Naturally, these people were charged at.

For more information on black and grizzly bears, go to the Idaho Fish and Game website:

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