Wildlife advocates protest possible euthanasia for Grizzly 863 – Buckrail

JACKSON, Wyo. – Friday, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) ad that they are planning to conduct a series of targeted hazing operations on Grizzly Bear 863.

Hazing tactics include loud noises, rubber bullets, trained dogs and other means of moving 863 from the side of the road where tourists, photographers and highway travelers have seen family.

Grizzly 863, also known as Felicia by public observers, got used to the side of the road along Route 26/287. This place subjected 863 and her two cubs to increased human activity.

“Due to continued harassment from wildlife watchers creating unsafe conditions on Togwotee Pass in Wyoming, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and partners are planning to conduct targeted hazing operations on Grizzly Bear 863,” said the service Friday.

People and cars approach a grizzly bear dangerously on US Highway 26/287, creating dangerous conditions for people and wildlife. Photo: Todd Stiles / US Forest Service

While Felicia and her cubs have yet to harm humans, the Service is concerned they may become aggressive due to increased human disturbance.

“Approaching, disturbing or feeding bears – as happens at Togwotee Pass – is extremely dangerous to humans and bears. These actions accustom animals to human development and can lead to dangerous human conditioned behavior. When this happens, bears can become aggressive and threaten human security.

The Service explained that if the hazing operations fail, relocation or possibly euthanasia is on the table for 863.

“While hazing does not resolve conflicts over the Togwotee Pass, growing management options include relocation and possibly euthanasia. By avoiding approaching or feeding bears, the public can help ensure that the need for such important management options is not necessary, ”the Service said.

While bears inside national parks are protected, 863 and her cubs roam the national forest lands and are not entitled to a wildlife management entity to ensure their safety and that of their watchers. Therefore, the Service has the competence to decide how it will treat the chosen location.

Meanwhile, community members and wildlife advocates are challenging the Service’s decision to hazing and possibly killing 863. Supporters argue that such hazing is only caused by human presence, and not the aggressive behavior of the bear and its cubs.

The majority of community feedback can be found on social media, where individuals tag #savefelicia to raise awareness of the issue. A petition created on Change.org for the service to stop the killing of 863 has generated more than 15,000 signatures.

To view the full petition, click here.

To read more information on the Service’s hazing operation plans, click here.

About the Author

Buckrail @ Caroline

Caroline Chapman is a community news reporter who recently made her home in Jackson. Born and raised in Connecticut, she enjoys reading non-fiction, skiing, hiking, and playing the piano in her spare time. She is very passionate about delivering and pursuing stories that have a direct impact on the lives of individuals in the community. Her favorite aspect of life in Jackson is the genuine admiration the people of Wyoming share for the land and the life it supports.

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