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Why were two grizzly bear cubs euthanized?

Grizzly bear sow and cub
Posted at 1:10 PM, Oct 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-06 15:10:03-04

BILLINGS — A hunter survived an attack by a grizzly bear west of Cody, Wyoming, on Saturday, October 2, 2021. The initial investigation indicated the hunter was attacked after a sudden encounter at close range with an adult female grizzly bear and her two cubs. Click here for details.

The female grizzly was killed by the hunter and his hunting partner.

Dan Smith, regional wildlife supervisor for Wyoming Game & Fish Department, said wildlife officials made the decision to euthanize the two grizzly cubs. Grizzly bears are on the Endangered Species List, and Wyoming officials at the scene talked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make the choice, Smith said.

"Ultimately, due to the remote location, due to the condition of the cubs and the situation at hand, unfortunately those cubs had to be euthanized," Smith said.

Smith said the cubs were born this spring. Bear cubs will normally be born in the den in spring and spend the summer with their mother to fatten up for winter hibernation. After the winter, the cubs will generally strike out on their own without further help from their mother.

Smith said these cubs were not old enough to provide for themselves on their own.

“These were cubs born this spring. With their size and that location, they would have not been able to survive the winter on their own. They would have either starved to death or they would have been eaten by another bear or wolf," Smith said.

The wildlife personnel didn't have the option to trap and relocate the cubs to a place that could rear them, due to their remote location five miles up the trail.

“Unfortunately, with that remote location, there was not really a way to do that. This is not a place that you can drive to or get traps to. So trying to capture them and move them out of that location would have been extremely difficult, if possible at all," Smith said.