Public Invited to Learn More About Grizzlies

May 12, 2016

Credit Thomas D. Mangelsen

A public discussion is scheduled Saturday, May 14, 2016, in Billings to discuss the fate of grizzly bears that live in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem.

Journalist Todd Wilkinson from Bozeman and grizzly bear biologist Dr. David Mattson will present a slide show and talk about the grizzly in the environment.

Wilkinson is the author of the book on one of the most famous grizzly sows of the Greater Yellowstone, 399.

“What’s significant about 399 is she’s been visually accessible in Jackson Hole along the road and so she has attracted hundreds of thousands of real visitors and millions of fans around the world,” he says.

Wilkinson will talk about 399 and how grizzly bear conservation in this ecosystem has allowed her to navigate both the natural environment and human habitation.

“What 399 has done, probably more than any other bear, is allow people to understand the natural history of these animals in Greater Yellowstone,” he says. “She has allowed us to understand what bears do around us on her terms.”

This includes coming down to the roadway near Jackson with cubs, navigating traffic and the people who come out of their vehicles to watch and take pictures.

Wilkinson’s presentation will feature slides from his book, “Grizzlies of Pilgrim Creek: An Intimate Portrait of 399.” The book features photography by Thomas Mangelsen.

The U-S Fish and Wildlife Service is poised to remove these bears from the Endangered Species List.

The action would turn over management of the species to the states. 

Montana is already considering draft regulations for trophy hunts.

The issue of trophy hunts garnered worldwide attention when a U-S dentist killed a well-known male lion known as Cecil. The lion was living primarily in the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe when he was lured away from the sanctuary and killed.

Closer to home, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks is investigating the death of a bear known by visitors as Scarface (also known as 211). Scarface was well-known to visitors in and around Yellowstone National Park. FWP confirmed in a newsrelease in November 2015 Scarface was killed in the Little Trail Creek drainage north of Gardiner on the Gallatin National Forest. Scarface was believed to be 25 years old.

Scarface, also known as 211, was a well-known grizzly bear in and around Yellowstone National Park. He was found shot by an unknown person near Gardiner, Montana. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks is investigating because the grizzly bear is currently protected by the U.S. government and the State of Montana as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Credit Yellowstone National Park

Wilkinson says 399’s future and the future of other bears is uncertain if grizzlies are subject to trophy hunts.

“I should note because it’s poignant that both Cecil the Lion and Scarface are dead,” he says. “And so 399, who was given her name by researchers, is still with us by dint of miracle and this year we’re still waiting for her to come out of her den as a 20 year old, which is ancient in grizzly bear terms. And if she comes out again and she’s healthy. Everybody believes she may come out yet again with one more set of cubs.”

Wilkinson says this is significant because grizzlies are notoriously slow to reproduce.

The discussion on the future of grizzlies is Saturday, May 14, 2016,  at the Liberal Arts Building, room 205 at Montana State University Billings. The presentation begins at 6:30 pm.

The event is sponsored by the Faculty at MSUB’s Philosophy department and MSUB Philosophy Club.