Grizzly Bear Update Late July 2023

July 25, 2023  •  8 Comments

I'm about to leave Jackson Hole for a few weeks to go and photograph the bison mating season in Yellowstone's Lamar Valley (find my recent article on bison photography by clicking here).  As peak tourist season is in full swing in Grand Teton National Park and I keep getting messages asking "where to find the bears" during your visit, here's an update on the latest sightings.

Whereas a typical summer sees grizzly sightings dry up by late June; grizzly bears tend to avoid the summer heat in Jackson Hole which has been in the 80s and occasional low 90s since July started and head to higher elevations; the good news is that if you're planning to visit the Tetons this summer, you're not out of luck!

Here's the situation on July 25, 2023 ...

P.S. Fine art prints of Grand Teton's celebrity grizzlies start at $47 in my Etsy shop: click here
 

Grizzly 399

Perhaps because she has a (record-setting) new COY this year, she seemingly hasn't left her "core area" yet this year. 

After she came out of hibernation in her usual area around Pilgrim Creek in May, she's been hanging out in the area between Leeks Marina to the north, Two Oceans road and Oxbow Bend to the east, Jackson Lake dam and Willow Flats to the south, and Hermitage Point to the west.  She was most recently sighted two days ago along the Pilgrim Creek dirt road (which is open to traffic and leads to the National Forest).


399 with her COY "Spirit"

 


Spirit enjoying biscuitroot flowers at Pilgrim Flats


In previous years, especially having the "quads" in her company, she headed straight south in search of food after appearing out of hibernation.  This year, with little Spirit in tow, she seemingly hasn't even swam the Snake river at the dam yet.  All good signs that she's going to tough it out for the summer, endure the heat and stay in a small area around Pilgrim Flats.



Grizzly 399 and her quads in 2020: fine art print available here on Etsy

 


399 poses in a field of arrowleaf balsamroot flowers: fine art print available here on Etsy

 

610

Another grizz who has apparently decided not to "head for the mountains" during the summer heat this year.


610 Eats a mouthful of clover when a sudden sound makes her stand up: fine art print available on Etsy here

 

399's Daughter, grizzly 610, came out of hibernation near Signal Mountain with her three yearling cubs and headed straight south to lower elevations to find food. After hanging out between Signal Mountain and the Moose entrance, she returned north for elk calving season and since then has been regularly seen in the area.  She was seen as recently as a few days ago with her three cubs along Two Oceans road and Willow Flats / Oxbow Bend.


Felicia

After she kicked out her 2.5 year old cubs late this spring, all went on their separate ways.  All three (on their own) have been spotted as recently as two days ago up on Togwotee Pass near the Continental Divide.  Apparently these are some of the only bears who "got the message" that life is better and cooler these days around 9,500 feet!

If you drive the pass, "No stopping for bears" - signs are still up and Highway Patrol is actively writing tickets so please follow the National Forest's Bear Management directions and use safe pull-outs to watch the bears.

Here's one of Felicia's cubs after it was kicked out.

 

Fritter / Blondie / Bruno / 926

None of these bears have been (frequently) spotted this summer.

I did have an interesting encounter with 926's cubs that she kicked out this spring.  I was photographing a coyote den when a herd of elk came running in my direction a few weeks ago.  Turns out the two young grizzlies were chasing the elk, to no avail.  With foamy mouths after a long sprint and chase, they realized that the elk were too fast, and went on their way together.
 


Blondie: fine art prints available here on Etsy (use coupon code "MAMABEAR" for 10% OFF)

 


Bruno in full sprint: fine art print available here on Etsy (use coupon code "MAMABEAR" for 10% OFF)


It goes without saying that the more people come to responsibly watch and enjoy the bears, the more people will hopefully stand up in the coming months and years to speak out on their behalf.  Even though there is no ethically justifiable reason to allow trophy hunting these bears and about 95% of the population is opposed to it, some WY - MT - ID politicians, supported/pushed by some of the cattle & outfitter/hunting industries, keep relentlessly pushing for the grizzly bear delisting of the Endangered Species list, keep pushing to start the trophy hunt and keep pushing for these three states to take on grizzly bear "management" (aka. hunting and eradication, as we have been seeing in the case of their grey wolf "management"). 

Even "National Park bears" like 399 and 610 are not safe once the hunt is allowed.  These bears frequently venture out of the National Park into neighboring Bridger-Teton National Forest which would (more than) likely allow hunting. 

So, let's all enjoy the grizzlies and be mindful who you vote for as your vote really matters.  Politicians who are pushing to delist grizzlies include WY gov. Mark Gordon, U.S. rep. Hageman and MT gov. Gianforte.

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Comments

Jorn Vangoidtsenhoven Wildlife and Nature Photography
Thanks!
Hound your elected public servants(non-registered)
Contact you elected public servants about expanding the ESA, and to put a ten 'no delisting' of wolves and grizzlies.
Marion Case(non-registered)
Love the pictures and updates!
Jorn Vangoidtsenhoven Wildlife and Nature Photography
Thanks all and good luck!

Karen, I don't have a recent update on the individual YS bears but I have been hearing of more frequent grizzly sightings there than here in the Tetons.
Larry crouch(non-registered)
Thank you very much, my family and I will be in the Tetons 8/6/23, before going in to Yellowstone for the week, and would love to watch the wildlife thru my spotting scope of course…
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