With the announcement that America’s most famous grizzly bear had not only emerged from her cave, but also brought a new cub into the world, social media erupted. Now that the cub is a few weeks old, the internet is abuzz with a pointed and salient question: Will Grizzly 399’s new offspring get a name or a number?
Probably not a number, maybe a name. That’s according to supervisory research wildlife biologist Frank van Manen, who heads the U.S. Geological Survey’s Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team. The group monitors and studies grizzlies throughout the Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, as well as Montana and Idaho.
The wildlife biologist told Cowboy State Daily that in order for a bear to get an official number, like its mama, the cub would have to be assigned and tagged with a collar. In order to get an official “numbered” collar, a bear must actually be part of a study subject — like Grizzly 399. “Bear numbers are assigned in consecutive order as they are captured throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, but only to bears that are handled and radio-collared as research captures or conflict captures.” The bear team has logged up to number 1,091 collars for the full year of 2022, but that doesn’t mean there are actually 1,091 collared grizzlies in and around Yellowstone National Park, so says Manen. Sometimes, on rare occasions, bears can get two numbers assigned to them.
According to estimates, there are about 600 grizzlies in Wyoming and the grand total of grizzly bears in North America is almost 55,000. The state of Montana has the most grizzlies with an estimated around 2,000.
Most grizzlies go through most of their lives without being collared, numbered, or named. But in and around the Teton area (where Grizzly 399 resides), bears are often numbered and named. Some bears that may be familiar to the general public and bear lovers are Grizzly 610, Blondie and Felicia who are famous on social media, and then there’s Bruno. Bruno is thought to have sired many of Grizzly 399’s cub, including the new bundle of joy.
Most North American grizzlies go through their entire lives with being collared, numbered, or named. But in the Teton area (where Grizzly 399 lives), names and numbers are more common.
Some of the better-known bears include Grizzly 610. Also, Blondie, and Felica have many fans and social media followers.
And then there’s the super-sized Bruno, thought to be the father of many of 399’s cubs, including perhaps the new one.
Names for the new cub have been circulating on social platforms include, Rowdy, Tuxedo, Pearl, and Miracle. The name “Miracle” is a good possibility because of the fact that Grizzly 399 being 27 years old, it’s miraculous that she had a new cub.