By CAROLE CLOUDWALKER
An 11-year-old male grizzly bear which "bottomed out an 800-pound scale" was killed by game officials last month near Meeteetse. The bear was removed after killing sheep and cattle for seven years.
Bear Management Officer Mark Bruscino of the Game and Fish Department says the grizzly was the "second largest known in the Yellowstone ecosystem," and the "largest I have seen in my career."
The bear, killed Oct. 3, is now at a taxidermy shop. It will become part of the collection of Meeteetse Museums once the taxidermist's bill is paid.
Museum officials say they have a donor who will pay to have the animal mounted.
Bruscino says officers from Wildlife Services, a small federal animal control agency, killed the grizzly. The bear, which had been radio-collared for some time, was known to be responsible for several sheep killings in 1994, and for taking adult cows as well as calves and yearlings on both private and federal land since 1996.
Meeteetse people believe the grizzly weighed about 900 pounds, but Bruscino
could only report the 800-pound scale was insufficient to weigh the beast.
This is not the bear that was killed but what he would look like up close and personnal!"
The grizzly was in excellent condition, with a six-inch layer of fat along his back. He was shot near the Hoodoo Ranch, where he had dined on numerous cattle. During the years he also killed cattle belonging to Tom Bales, the TE Ranch and Dave Grabbert, Bruscino said.
Once drugged and removed to Yellowstone Park, the bear returned the same day, and continued to kill livestock, although he had no confrontations with humans.
While it is not common for grizzlies to kill domestic animals, Bruscino says once they begin there is little that can be done short of removing the bear.
"The bear fit the guidelines for removal," Bruscino said. It was done with the consensus of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Game and Fish.
"His age and sex made him less important to the population," he added.
The Endangered Species Act requires that bears so removed be used for "educational or scientific purposes" like in a museum.
The only larger bear spotted in the Yellowstone ecosystem, Bruscino
says, was a 1,000 pound grizzly which was a "dump bear" in the days when
grizzlies fed at landfill sites in the park. That animal was not killed,
but was drugged and weighed, he said.