Island Park Idaho is located approximately 50 miles from the heart of Yellowstone so grizzly bear sightings in this quaint little town are not surprising. In April of 2022, a sow grizzly and her cubs began getting food from dumpsters and local residents’ trash cans. As the bears continued their circuit and dependency on easy food, they also lost their natural fear of humans. Eventually, the bears even started to show aggressive behaviors towards people so on May 25th the bears were euthanized for the safety of the local residents.
Grizzly bears in the lower 48 states are federally protected so once they associate humans with food, bears will have to be either moved or euthanized for safety reasons. Grizzly bears are a polarizing topic and in 2018 Idaho did offer a season to hunt grizzly bears, the hunt was put on hold by a federal judge shortly before the season opened, and soon after grizzly bears were listed as federally protected once again.
Idaho’s Role in Management
At this time it is unknown when or if there will be a hunt for grizzlies in Idaho. For now, the IDFGD has to follow federal regulations in regard to managing grizzly bears. That means that problem bears that meet certain criteria in Idaho are relocated. However, other grizzlies, that show a pattern of being aggressive may be euthanized like the sow and her cubs were as listed above. As grizzly populations continue to rise it is expected that human-bear conflict will also continue to rise. Each year grizzly bear attacks seem to be increasing. Likewise, grizzlies continue to be seen in areas they haven’t been seen in since being protected. These events are pretty clear signs that grizzly bear ranges are expanding.