Young Grizzly Bear Killed by Vehicle in Grand Teton National Park

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Date: June 21, 2012
Contact: Public Affairs Office, 307.739.3393

A young male grizzly bear was killed by a motorist just after 9 a.m. Thursday, June 21, on Highway 26/89/191 about 1 mile south of Snake River Overlook in Grand Teton National Park. The circumstances of the collision are under investigation by park rangers. The driver of the vehicle that struck the bear sustained minor injuries and was transported by park ambulance to St. John's Medical Center in Jackson, Wyoming. 

A passerby called 911 to report a single vehicle roll-over. Once on scene, park rangers confirmed that a bear had been hit and died from its injuries. Park rangers remind drivers to be extra vigilant on park roads during the busy summer season as it is not uncommon for drivers to be distracted while attempting to view wildlife or scenery while operating their vehicle. The driver of the vehicle that hit the bear told rangers he was swerving to avoid hitting another vehicle that had stopped in the road and was attempting a U-turn to view the bear. 

Grand Teton National Park biologists are collecting various samples from the young bear including hair and tissue samples, and a tooth to determine the age of the bear. Biologists will submit a hair sample for DNA testing to determine if this bear is a yearling cub of tagged bear 399. 

This is the first bear fatality caused by a vehicle on park roads this year. Each year in Grand Teton, an average of one or more bears (grizzly and/or black bears) are involved in vehicle collisions that result in the injury or death of the animal. In the past six years, vehicle-related deaths of bears include: 2006, one black bear; 2007, two black bears and one grizzly bear cub; 2009, one black bear; and 2010, one grizzly bear, one black bear cub, and one black bear cub and two other bears (unverified species) that were injured but left the scene; 2011, two black bears. 

These encounters between vehicles and bears -among other wildlife accidents-serve as a reminder that animals actively cross and use park roads. Motorists are reminded to drive the posted speed limit and be prepared to stop suddenly for wildlife, or those viewing wildlife, along or on park roadways. Driving slower than indicated speed limits-especially at night-can increase the margin of safety for people and animals. Collisions between motor vehicles and wildlife may result in severe damage to a vehicle, serious or fatal injuries to the occupants of that vehicle, and/or death for the animal involved. 

In addition to bears, other wildlife such as wolves, elk, moose, bison, deer, pronghorn antelope, as well as smaller creatures such as beavers, marmots, and porcupines may also be encountered on or near park roads. 

According to the Code of Federal Regulations, a motor vehicle operator is required to report an accident involving property damage, personal injury, or death-which includes the injury or death of wildlife. 

Vehicles take a significant toll on park wildlife, resulting in the deaths of well over 100 animals per year.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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