More human-grizzly bear conflicts in U.S. predicted

Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:27pm EST
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By Laura Zuckerman

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters Life!) - Conflicts between people and grizzlies in the Yellowstone National Park region are likely to rise this year as more bears try to recolonize areas now inhabited by people, wildlife managers said on Tuesday.

The news comes as federal and state agencies gathered in Montana to craft measures they hope will reduce the number of grizzlies they must kill in 2011 for threatening people and livestock.

Problems between Yellowstone area grizzlies and people reached unprecedented levels last year, with bear managers in Wyoming alone grappling with an all-time high of 52 grizzly captures.

But the estimated 600 grizzlies in the park and nearby Wyoming, Montana and Idaho won't be the focus of renewed efforts to contain conflicts.

"We can cope with the bears, now we need to work on the humans," said Gregg Losinski, a member of a federal and state task force on bear recovery.

Hunting and trapping of the outsized, hump-shouldered bears drove them to near extinction before they were added to the threatened and endangered species list in 1975.

The grizzly population in the Yellowstone region has climbed to an estimated 600, 100 more than the recovery goal.

Bear experts say more conflicts are an ironic outcome of the steady recovery of the species.   Continued...