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Environment

Grizzly Conflicts Often High In Fall, Says US Fish And Wildlife

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Yellowstone National Park
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Grizzly bears have increased conflicts with humans during the fall as the animals search for food in preparation for hibernation.

Eleven grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem have been euthanized since the beginning of September in a "particularly bad month" for grizzly conflicts, the Powell Tribune in Wyoming reports.

That rate may be normal for the fall.

Hilary Cooley, the grizzly bear recovery coordinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the number of grizzlies euthanized tend to go up this time of year. As winter approaches, the bears go to great lengths to fatten up -- with no regard for humans. Cooley said they will go into people's homes or rifle through garbage cans.

"If there's an easy food source, if there's dog food left on a porch," she said. "They're going to there and they're going to get the dog food."

Coley said the agency tracks some of the grizzlies that interact with humans and decides whether it should intervene on a case-by-case basis. Dangerous bears can be relocated to a more remote place, but that can get complicated.

"What happens if there's an incident where maybe it attacks a human, and we knew this was a potential when we moved it?" said Cooley.

This should not be an issue for much longer, Cooley said. Grizzlies usually go into hibernation by mid-November.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

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