Wildlife photographer Amy Gerber took to Facebook on May 1 to spread word of a dead grizzly bear she saw near the North Fork Highway and the North Fork of the Shoshone River, 14 miles east of Yellowstone National Park near Wapiti, Wyoming. Now, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are investigating the incident, Tara Hodges of the WGFD Cody office confirms with Outdoor Life via email.
“This morning I saw him … at least I think it was him, the big guy,” Gerber, a retired teacher and Cody-based guide, wrote in a Facebook post. “He was within a mile of where I had seen him last week. Except today, he was dead.”
Neither agency has released any formal information to the public regarding the incident. But Gerber goes on to write that WGFD employees were “walking the hillside, in search of evidence” when she drove out of the canyon she was hiking through.
“I knew right then he wasn’t hit by a car,” Gerber wrote. “He was shot.”
Grizzly bears are a federally protected species and are therefore under FWS jurisdiction. For that reason, the FWS currently leads the investigation and WGFD has no comment on it, WGFD large carnivore specialist Dan Thompson told the Cowboy State Daily. FWS special agent Richard Gamba added that the case is being investigated as a possible illegal killing.
Wildlife photographer Julie Argyle posted photos of a large, dead grizzly bear to her Facebook profile on May 2. Argyle claims that the photos, which she attributes to a different photographer, are of the grizzly in question.
“[The bear] was roughly 20 [to] 40 yards off of the road,” Argyle wrote. “At first glance it was thought to have been hit by a car but has now been verified through [WGFD] … that it had been shot and that there have been no reports of self-defense filed in that area.”
(Argyle attributes the information regarding the shooting and the lack of self-defense reports to Gerber’s Facebook post. Neither detail has been confirmed publicly by the investigating agencies.)
Grizzly Bears in Yellowstone
The grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has ballooned in recent years. As of November 2021, the population estimate was over 1,000 bears, which was higher than researchers originally thought prior to using new monitoring techniques. With this growing population comes the demand for the feds to delist GYE grizzlies and pass their management on to state wildlife agencies. Meanwhile, some grizzly encounters in the GYE prove fatal for outdoorsmen and bears alike.
Read Next: Where Do All the Problem Bears Go?
When relocation isn’t an option for a problem bear, euthanasia is the natural next step. Whether by a federal tranquilizer dart and injection, a vehicle collision, or an illegal gunshot wound, GYE grizzlies meet a variety of tragic—and avoidable—endings.
“Whoever did this did it just for fun,” Argyle wrote in her Facebook post. “Once again, a beautiful animal that was doing nothing wrong was killed at the hands of humankind for no apparent reason.”
The post Grizzly Bear Killed Outside Yellowstone National Park appeared first on Outdoor Life.
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