NewsIdaho Backroads

Actions

Grizzly 399 keeps producing

24 year old bear has four cubs
Posted at 6:01 PM, Jun 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-26 12:27:42-04

GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK, Wyoming — These people are waiting and watching, some from a superior vantage point, hoping for a glimpse of what might be the most famous living bear in the world.

It started in May, when grizzly fanatics anxiously waited to see if Grizzly 399 would emerge from her den in Grand Teton National Park at the ripe old age of 24.

"The park opened May 18th, and right then and there it was on YouTube -- 399 and the four babies," said bear watcher Carol Muir.

That's right, four cubs, a rarely large litter, especially for a bear born in 1996, who some feared might not survive another winter. The prolific grizzly is known for having more than the standard two cubs, regularly giving birth to triplets.

And once again she is pleasing patient crowds like this one, appearing from the tree line to dig roots, constantly working to feed her hungry brood.

While some criticize those who closely follow 399, snapping photo after photo, at least one researcher says she has habituated to humans, hanging close to the highway for a reason, to protect her cubs from crowd-shy male grizzlies who might kill them.

But researchers also say the famous bear hibernates outside the safe boundaries of Teton National Park, and some hunters have said that given the chance, they would target her because of her status.

The park keeps a crew in the area, to manage so called bear-jams, keeping the animals and the crowds safe.

And despite the smaller crowds observed so far in Yellowstone and Grand Teton parks this year, when a bear is visible, people tend to forget about the COVID-19 pandemic.

"When the bears come out we get all excited. It's not good social distancing," said Muir.