Wildlife managers are so far unable to locate the wounded animal.
A grizzly bear has been photographed on the loose near the top of Togwotee Pass with a Conibear-style furbearer trap clamped to its paw.
While it’s unknown how long the bruin has been hobbled by the steel contraption, a photograph of the bear was passed along to Wyoming Game and Fish on May 31.
Moran resident and videographer Jim Laybourn is one person who has viewed the image of the caught bear, having run into a Dubois couple shortly after they snapped the photo.
“It’s firmly attached, most of the way up its paw, and there’s no way that it’s going to get it off,” Laybourn said. “It’s really disgusting to think about that animal struggling with the trap. It’s going to be a tough existence.”
Dan Thompson, Game and Fish’s large carnivore supervisor, was more optimistic that the grizzly would be able to free itself.
“I think there’s a high likelihood that the bear has since removed that trap, because it was a smaller trap,” Thompson said. “As strong as bears are, I would expect a grizzly to be able to remove it, I would think.”
Game and Fish personnel are monitoring the situation “vigilantly,” he said, but they have not laid eyes on the animal. If it is located, the bear will be immobilized and the trap removed.
The Dubois residents who photographed and reported the trapped bear, rumored to be a boar, declined to be interviewed for this story when reached through their employers at Jackson Hole Airport.
The couple, Laybourn said, were shaken up.
“I could tell by their reaction that it was really emotional for them,” he said. “They felt horrible about that bear, and I imagine I would, too.”
The Conibear trap observed on the grizzly’s paw is a quick-kill device that typically is used to trap beavers, muskrats and pine marten — all species that are not in season in Wyoming. Trapping of species classified as predators, such as red fox and coyote, is allowed throughout the year.
Employees of Wyoming Untrapped, a group that advocates for trapping reform, said the incident is evidence of the need for trapping bans in grizzly country.
“It’s frustrating that an endangered species has been caught and now we can’t find it,” said Kristin Combs, Wyoming Untrapped’s program director.
“It’s an example of why trapping is so indiscriminate and doesn’t have a place in modern wildlife management,” she said. “Now there’s a poor grizzly bear out there with a trap on its paw.”