CODY, Wyo. (AP) - Wildlife managers relocated or killed substantially fewer grizzly bears in northwestern Wyoming in 2019 compared to 2018.
Abundant natural food such as berries helped keep bears away from livestock and other non-natural sources of food, said Wyoming Game and Fish Department large carnivore conflict coordinator Brian DeBolt.
"It's definitely a good thing," DeBolt told The Cody Enterprise.
Department officials captured 33 different grizzlies in 2019 and one bear twice, down from 59 in 2018, according to an annual Game and Fish Department report.
Of the 33 bears captured, 17 were killed after being deemed too accustomed to seeking non-natural food to be returned safely to the wild.
Wildlife managers moved other grizzlies many miles from where they were captured in the hope they wouldn't interfere with people or livestock again.
"There's a lot of discussion that goes into each decision," DeBolt said. "Those decisions are not taken light-heartedly."
Public awareness also helps reduce the need to relocate or kill grizzly bears. People can help by using electric fencing and storing garbage, dog food and other items that could attract bears out of the animals' reach, DeBolt said.
"That's our goal, to minimize conflict," he said.
Grizzlies are federally protected as a threatened species in the conterminous U.S. following a 2018 order by a federal judge in Montana.