For Felicia- let bears be bears
For Felicia- let bears be bears
Grizzly bear 863 (commonly referred to as “Felicia”) and her two cubs born earlier this year have been living alongside the Togwotee Pass in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, east of Moran, WY.
Under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), local agencies are currently hazing this bear family via loud noise(s), rubber bullets, and other means to move her from the roadside where tourists, photographers, and highway travelers have been viewing the family.
The narrative that the Fish and Wildlife Service is using, calling this family a so-called “dangerous situation” is – to put it bluntly - absurd. In a release from USFWS out of Denver it was explained that hazing will continue through the end of June 2021, at which time a decision to relocate or euthanize the bears will be made. This is unacceptable. The bear is located on public land and has done nothing “wrong,” she and her offspring have the misfortune of existing in a place where wildlife managers are choosing not to deal with traffic problems and have been quoted among many (who are willing to fill out affidavits to these testimonies) that they “don’t feel like dealing with the traffic” or “the bear.” This bear has shown zero signs of aggression, has not sought out human food rewards, or posed a problem with residents or campers.
This bear family simply grazes along the roadside, peacefully eating planted clover as this appears to be a preferred food choice. Additionally, numerous sows have sought out the roadside for protection to rear their cubs. This behavior has been very well-documented, as reports show that it protects the mother and her cubs from nearby large grizzly bears. When did it become unacceptable for bears to simply exist near the roadside in a national forest? There is absolutely no reason to euthanize (or even relocate) this federally protected bear or her cubs.
We all know if this bear and her cubs are relocated there are countless dangers associated with the process and there is a high likelihood that one or more of these bears would not survive. Not to mention that after a second relocation she, and any offspring, would be on their “last strike.” If they were to ever approach roads or humans the next step would be euthanization.
The narrative that this is a traffic issue or a safety issue for people present in the area is unacceptable. This situation is not the result of people admiring bears but because of inadequate and inefficient bear management by a government agency that does not wish to manage the bear the way the national parks do. This is completely intolerable, and I implore you to do better.
The local community in Jackson has deep pockets and thousands of people who care greatly about the wildlife, especially grizzly bear 863 (“Felica”) and her cubs. The community is capable of raising funds to implement bear management personnel on Togwotee Pass, similar to those in GTNP. This option has been proposed to local agencies, who promptly dismissed it. Can you honestly tell me that you would rather kill a bear with babies than allow locals to implement a process they are willing to fund that would help mediate between both sides, and aid in bear management?
Ultimately, if murdering this bear and her two cubs is the direction that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service takes, it will be documented and recorded which will become a PR nightmare for all agencies involved. The killing of a bear that has brought joy to many tourists will not be one the public will forget, and the local community will work hard to ensure that such an abuse is remembered and learned from.