Grizzly 399 Hasn't Emerged From Hibernation, People Concerned | Big Horn Basin Media

Grizzly 399 Hasn’t Emerged From Hibernation, People Concerned

Written by on May 13, 2023

Wyoming’s most famous bear, Grizzly 399, hasn’t emerged from her hibernation with her cubs from a long, snowy winter.

Should people be concerned?  Let’s face it, it’s now mid-May, temps are well above freezing, grass is growing, farmers are planting, where is the bear matriarch?

People on social media are eager with anticipation to see momma and her babies but so far, she or her brood haven’t come out to play in 2023.

Wildlife photographer Jack Bayles says he’s not concerned about Grizzly 399 like he is about other grizzlies he steadfastly follows, but he hasn’t seen 399 yet this spring.  He says he’s concerned about some other Teton grizzlies that he keeps track of every year, but expects Grizzly 399 “will be along when she is ready,” he told Cowboy State Daily.

Grizzly 399 gained quite a reputation in the Tetons, and thanks to social media (where she has millions of followers who wait with bated breath for her to come out), she has become somewhat of a famous bear.  She even has her own Wikipedia page. She is a rock star, like the Taylor Swift of bears. One thing that has made her popular over the years, especially springtime, is she brings her cubs close to the roadside as well as other well-populated places so humans can watch her cubs from a safe distance as they grow up.

It’s almost like she loves showing off her cubs like humans do when they say, “Have you seen a picture of my kids?” and whip out their cell phones to proudly show and share the pics.

But Grizzly 399 is now 27, which is old for a grizzly. Grizzly bears rarely live past 30 in the wild.

However, photographers and wildlife biologists have noted that her teeth are still in remarkably good shape and that means she can hunt and eat. That’s important, because older grizzlies usually die of starvation or malnutrition because their teeth rot out or break off which makes it more difficult to eat calorie-dense foods like big game carcasses.

Statewide Large Carnivore Supervisor Dan Thompson of Wyoming Game and Fish Department says he’s not worried about Grizzly 399. Not yet. “Her age in relation to overall  grizzly bear longevity is what has some people circumspect that she may not be seen.  She would be due to have cubs of the year this spring and those females are usually later to emerge than other bears so that should not be a big surprise that she hasn’t shown up in a telephoto lens. Everyone is curious, hopefully people are unselfish enough to leave her alone,” he says.

But what if she doesn’t emerge in the next couple of weeks?  Is there a way to find the bear and check up on her to see if she’s still alive?  Dan says Game and Fish would not go out to locate her, “looking for her any different[ly] than any other grizzly bear and more importantly we don’t have any way of knowing where she is, as she is not wearing a collar or anything like that.  I suspect rumors and hearsay will abound until she is seen or unseen.”

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