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Bear #399, And Other Grizzlies, Are On the Prowl In Grand Teton National Park


This picture of grizzly No. 399 and her cubs in Grand Teton National Park was taken April 13. NPS photo by George Marion.

In the Rockies mountain snows slowly are beginning to melt, the aspen are beginning to unfurl their leaves, and the bears are rummaging about. All the more reason to pay attention to not just your surroundings in the national parks, but your cleanliness in terms of food.

In Grand Teton National Park, for instance, grizzly No. 399, a 12-year-old sow, is out of hibernation and roaming about with her triplets. While it's pretty cool to spot 399 and her cubs, you've gotta be careful, both for your own safety and so the bears don't become habituated to humans and their food and need to be put down.

In Grand Teton, home ranges for some bears include roadside areas of the park, which means you could find yourself intruding on their territories. During the next few months, a cadre of park employees will be monitoring and managing roadside wildlife watching in an effort to make sure that people maintain a safe distance not only from bears, but also from other animals such as bison, moose, and elk.

No. 399 and her triplets became a highly visible attraction along park roadsides and developed areas during the 2006 and 2007 seasons with hundreds of visitors stopping to photograph and observe them at close range. Over her lifetime, No. 399 has become comfortable using habitat in close proximity to roads and other developments, and is now habituated to humans. Nonetheless, she and her cubs remain wild, naturally foraging bears that are potentially dangerous.

Because grizzlies usually wean their young after two full years, grizzly No. 399’s cubs are expected to be on their own and fending for themselves sometime this spring or summer. They may continue to roam near people and park roads in the absence of their mother, making them more vulnerable to humans and their activities. They might also venture outside the park in search of new home ranges.

Park biologists and Wyoming Game and Fish biologists (who have responsibility for bears outside the park) want to ensure that the cubs remain wild and reliant upon natural food sources only. The fate of these and other bears could easily be influenced by careless park visitors or local residents who approach the bears too closely or store food and other bear attractants (such as bird feeders) inappropriately.

Inside the park, food storage regulations are in force and must be complied with at all times. Visitors are also required to keep a safe distance from bears at all times; the recommended distance to maintain from any bear (black or grizzly) is 100 yards—the length of a football field.

To help the bears enjoy a measure of solitude, Grand Teton officials are implementing a temporary wildlife closure from May 15 through July 15 in the Willow Flats area below Jackson Lake Lodge to prevent human-bear encounters in an area where elk calving annually occurs, as bears actively pursue this abundant food source. Signs will be posted to alert visitors of the closure area and inform them of associated safety concerns.

To keep all grizzly bears and black bears wild and free, people must practice good “bear aware” etiquette and be responsible while recreating in Grand Teton National Park. For further information about being “bear aware,” please consult the park’s newspaper, Teewinot, visit the park’s web site, or stop by any park visitor center.


I just love this photo...just lumbering along after a deep sleep. Bring out the ankle bells and spray! Yellowstone slowly awakes! Let's just hope that old bear number 399 and her cubs survive another rambunctious tourist season. Bear canisters...please!

It's so exciting to see these bears out again. Watching them all summer last year, you sort of feel like you are seeing old Family again when you see them. Lets hope they have a safe and incident free season.

What a legend these bears have become. It's so great and I feel so fortunate to have seen them last week. I was in Grand Teton National Park on a guided tour. Taylor with EcoTour Adventures was our guide. He was so informative about the area which really added to our trip.. Any way we were in the north part of the park and we saw momma 399 send her cubs off on there own. It wasn't but an hour latter that we saw a large boar grizzly mount 399. Maybe we will have three new cubs next spring. The tour was great and I strongly recommend Taylor and his services.

We saw 399 and one of her cubs this past week around Pacific Creek area - it was so special. We saw the cub first, foraging for berries on the bank above the road, and then a few days later saw 399 herself digging up grubs etc. Both attracted a small but respectful audience with 399 being kept an eye on by a ranger - who told us she had been out of sight for a couple of months. I just hope she is still around for us to see again next fall, she really seemed very special once we knew her story.

My daughters and I watched this bear and her cubs this past April and videoed them all, from a safe distance of course. Our video like so many others is now on YouTube. I just read today that she has kicked the cubs to the curb so to speak. The three young bears are on their own while their mom searches out a new mate. Let's hope the three kids don't get into any trouble. I'll be back in the park next week. Hope I can get a glimpse, but I'll be happy if I don't ever see them again and they go into the back country to live peacefully without bipeds taking their pix.

Followed that bear for 3 years...watched its habitat and behivor....Cant wait to see new cubs this year
She is one devoted mother.....and caring deeply for her cubs....Spend 6 months in Tetons every year
Great write up and great job...see u guys in the park

I saw her last June, I am returning to Grand Teton in August I hope she will be around

Just returned from Jackson, no sign of 399, but heard reports that after being seen with a new cub early in the season she was **rumoured** to have been seen again without a cub and with a scratched up face. This was from staff in the Tom Mangleson gallery. Hope that she is OK.

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