Humane Society, Wyoming Untrapped urge state investigation.
A national animal rights organization has jumped into the fray of what to do about a grizzly bear that’s been spotted in Teton County with a Conibear-style trap clamped onto its front paw.
The Humane Society of the United States, fearing for the animal’s ability to forage and get around, has sent a letter formally asking federal and state wildlife managers for an investigation.
“We want them to locate the bear, anesthetize it, get the trap off and treat it,” Wendy Keefover, the society’s carnivore protection manager, said in an interview. “And then secondarily, we would like both agencies to investigate the trapping. Grizzly bears right now cannot be legally trapped, even inadvertently, under the Endangered Species Act.”
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department — a state agency that anticipates soon managing grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone region — dispatched biologists to locate the animal the day the report came in, large carnivore manager Dan Thompson said Monday. Search efforts are ongoing but have been unsuccessful so far, he said.
“Not including myself, at least three people have put in about 50 hours on the ground looking for this animal,” Thompson said. “And I’ve spent countless hours responding to email and phone call allegations that we haven’t been looking.”
Game and Fish personnel were unable to locate the bear’s tracks after the sighting, Thompson said. Capturing the bear in a culvert trap wasn’t a viable option, he said, because of its remote location and persistent snow.
Keefover worried that the bear would not be able to take the trap off on its own and could lose part of its paw, or get a sepsis infection and die.
“I know people whose dogs have got into Conibears, and they can’t open them with two hands and two feet,” she said. “So to presume a bear could get one off is not reasonable.”
Thompson had a different opinion.
“I think there’s a high likelihood that the bear has since removed that trap, because it was a smaller trap,” he said. “As strong as bears are, I would expect a grizzly to be able to remove it, I would think.”
The Jackson Hole group Wyoming Untrapped acquired a photo of the caught grizzly from Game and Fish using a public records request after the agency declined to release the image.
Reviewing the photograph the organization’s staff says that the trap connected to the bruin’s paw is a 220-style Conibear. It’s a device that is commonly used to trap raccoon, skunk, fisher, bobcat, lynx and similar-size furbearers, according to TrappingToday.com. It’s designed to grip animals tightly by the body and kill swiftly.
Lisa Robertson, Wyoming Untrapped’s founder, urged state managers to intensify their investigation.
“We ought to seek the source of this possibly illegal trap and treat it like we would poaching,” Robertson said. “Trapping incidents are mostly pushed under the radar. I think that’s why we were not notified — we just found out from a concerned citizen.”
Wyoming Untrapped plans to distribute fliers around Jackson notifying residents and visitors of the grizzly that may still be in a Conibear trap.
Contact Mike Koshmrl at 732-7067, email@example.com or @JHNGenviro.