(Togwotee Pass, WY) – Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) along with other State agencies announced their plan to conduct targeted hazing operations for the remainder of June on grizzly bear 863 a.k.a. Felicia and her two cubs who have become habituated to the roadside along Highway 26/287.
Today, June 16th, the USFWS has responded to the numerous petitions and concerns raised by people across the U.S., if not internationally, about the possibility of the bear family being euthanized because of people not being responsible around wildlife. This end-all possibility was mentioned, along with relocation, in their initial announcement as escalating management tactics if hazing did not work.
Below are a few of the USFWS’s responses; the full list can be read online here.
1) Are there plans to kill grizzly bear 863, known as “Felicia”?
No. Euthanasia’s a management tactic of last resort. It’s the goal of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and our partners to avoid this scenario. The public can help by following common sense bear safety practices and giving space for wildlife managers to conduct hazing operations.
2) Why are the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and partners hazing grizzly bear 863?
We and our partners are hazing grizzly bear 863 to move her and her cubs away from the dangerous situation being caused by people on and adjacent to Highway 26/287. If people stop only in legal highway pullouts, and remain in vehicles, hazing would not be necessary. However, when people stop, exit vehicles, and approach bears on foot, the risk increases that grizzly bears, especially sows with cubs, will charge. This poses a significant threat to human life. Once a bear charges or attacks a human in that manner, it’s much more likely that relocation or euthanasia could be necessary – actions we want to avoid.
3) What is hazing?
Hazing is the use of non-lethal, non-injurious methods to change an animal’s behavior. In this case, examples include loud noise devices (such as “cracker” or “screamer” rounds), and projectiles such as paintballs, and bean bags from a shotgun. Projectile methods are only directed at large areas of fatty tissue, such as the bear’s rump, to avoid injury. Projectiles are not used on cubs.
USFWS encourages everyone to take the #KeepBearsWild pledge and help ensure the safety of you and the bears!