For the next four months biologists will be trapping grizzly and black bears in Yellowstone National Park's backcountry as part of an ongoing research project to better understand the bears' populations in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
The work is being overseen by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST). It kicks off today, and will continue through October. Biologists will bait and trap bears at several remote sites within Yellowstone National Park. Once trapped the bears are anesthetized to allow wildlife biologists to radio-collar and collect scientific samples for study. All trapping and handling are done in accordance with IGBST's long-established protocols.
Officials say none of the trap sites in the park will be located near any established hiking trails or backcountry campsites, and all trap sites will have posted warnings for the closure's perimeter. Potential access points will also be posted with warning signs for the closure area. Backcountry users who come upon any of these posted areas need to heed the warnings and stay out of the area.
Three years ago, during a similar research period, a man was mauled to death about seven miles outside of Yellowstone's east entrance by a grizzly that had just come out of sedation. In an ensuing lawsuit, the man's family charged that the biologists failed to adequately monitor the bear as it awoke. They contended that the biologists took down the signs, which warned residents of the trapping work, as they left the area. The signs were supposed to remain in place for three days afterwards. A federal judge later dismissed the lawsuit.
Three days after the mauling, wildlife agents homed in on the radio-collar signal, which had been fitted on the bear to track its behavior. Wildlife agents killed the bear with a rifle shot fired from a hovering helicopter.
For more information regarding grizzly bear research efforts call (406) 994-6675.