WY Game and Fish Finds Gunshot Grizzly near Yellowstone

Wyoming Game and Fish Investigating Gunshot Grizzly near Yellowstone

Written by on May 2, 2023

A dead grizzly bear was discovered along the Northfork Highway 14 miles east of Yellowstone National Park on Monday, May 1. Wyoming Game and Fish is investigating the incident as a case of poaching.

The bear was discovered along the side of the Northfork Highway between Wapiti and the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park by residents sometime Monday morning. Pictures of the carcass quickly started circulating in local photography groups.

Wyoming Game and Fish has yet to release an official statement on their investigation. However, many people on Facebook – including Amy Gerber, who first posted about the incident – say they had direct confirmation from staff on-site that the bear was shot.

Grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are still protected under the Endangered Species Act, despite recent efforts to change their status. Deliberately killing a grizzly illegally or without just cause is a felony with a maximum penalty of a $50,000 fine and up to a year in prison. Guilty persons may also lose their hunting privileges, possibly for life.

A key aspect of the investigation that led to the poaching conclusion is that there were no reports of an incident. Grizzlies can be killed as an act of self-defense, but any killing must be immediately reported to Wyoming Game and Fish, who subsequently report it to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. There were no calls of a human-grizzly encounter in the region.

Initially, it was believed the bear had been hit by a vehicle. Some people speculated that the bear was hit by a vehicle, and the gunshot may have been a “mercy-killing.”

There is currently no evidence to support this interpretation. Regardless, shooting an animal that had been struck by a vehicle – especially one classified as an endangered species – would still be illegal.

Anyone with information on this poaching incident is encouraged to contact Wyoming Game and Fish at (307) 777-4600. The Cody Office can be reached at (307) 527-7125.

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