Wyoming relocating grizzly bears fairly regularly, raising debate about how to manage them

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POWELL, Wyoming — The state Game and Fish Department has captured and relocated about two dozen grizzly bears in northwest Wyoming this year, up from 2014 when a total of 16 grizzlies were relocated. The number this year continues to rise.

Relocations this month include two adult female grizzly bears killing livestock on a U.S. Forest Service grazing allotments and an adult male grizzly frequenting residential areas near Jackson.

There are an estimated 757 total grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Grizzly bears are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Public safety is paramount and the department responds immediately to human-bear and other large carnivore conflicts, Game and Fish supervisor Dan Thompson said.

The decision to relocate a bear and the site selection take into consideration the bear's age, its sex and the type of conflict involved.

The number and location of human-bear conflicts is influenced by the availability of unsecured attractants, natural food availability and abundance of bears and their distribution in relation to human use on the landscape, Thompson said.

Buster Tolman, a Bennett Creek Ranch owner in Clark, said he has lost cattle to grizzlies. He said one solution is to have a hunting season on grizzlies. He said black bears fear humans more and are less likely to kill stock because they are hunted.

"In the meantime, we have to suffer and pay the price," he said.

Grizzly advocate Chuck Neal, of Cody, said the animal needs to stay protected and its population must have the opportunity to expand, the Powell Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/1VdF8UY).

Neal said Wyoming has hundreds of thousands of acres of quality habitat for grizzly expansion, including the Wyoming and Wind River ranges, where they can thrive.

Information from: Powell (Wyo.) Tribune, http://www.powelltribune.com

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