ASHTON - As part of ongoing efforts required under the Endangered Species Act to monitor the distribution of grizzly bears in the Yellowstone Ecosystem, the Idaho Department of Fish & Game (IDFG) is working to inform the public that pre-baiting and scientific trapping operations are once again about to begin in the Upper Snake Region. Biologists, who make up Idaho's contribution to the larger Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST) efforts, will begin to work mainly in that portion of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest inside of the caldera in the Island Park area. Trapping efforts will begin on May 21 and run until mid-July. Trapping operations can include a variety of activities, but all areas where work is being conducted will have major access points marked with bright orange warning signs. It is critical that all members of the public heed these signs and not enter areas that are posted.
According to Regional Wildlife Manager Daryl Meints, "We'll be placing 8 GPS collars along with a number of traditional radio collars, some to help collect grizzly bear movement data as it relates to upcoming work on Highway 20. The majority of funding for these projects is covered by grants from the United States Fish & Wildlife Service." GPS collars cost considerably more that regular VHF radio collars, but they are able to provide detailed information that can be used to show exactly where a grizzly bear traveled on a specific time and date.
Monitoring of grizzly bear distribution and other activities are vital to ongoing recovery of grizzlies in the Yellowstone Ecosystem. In order to attract bears, biologists utilize natural food sources such as fresh road-killed deer and elk. Potential trapping sites are baited with these natural foods and if indications are that grizzly bears are in the area, snares or culvert traps will be used to capture the bears. Once trapped, the bears are sedated and studied in accordance with strict protocols developed by the IGBST.
Whenever bear trapping activities are being conducted and for a period of three days afterwards, the area around the site will be posted with bright orange warning signs to inform the public of the activities occurring. These signs are posted along the major access points to the trapping site. It is important that the public heed these signs and not enter an area that has been posted.
For more information regarding grizzly bear trapping efforts or Idaho's role in grizzly bear management, call 208-525-7290.