Good Life

Living with grizzlies brings conflict in the west

Debra Halloway was on a Sunday evening bicycle ride through a subdivision south of Driggs last month when she heard a crash in the sagebrush on the side of the road.

She turned to see a grizzly bear in full charge, heading straight for her. Halloway had just shifted into a higher gear and pedaled hard until she outran the sow, which was protecting two cubs

“Only because she was on a bike was she able to get away,” said Steve Schmidt, Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s regional director in Idaho Falls.

Bears in Yellowstone National Park are getting the headlines this year — officials there are trying to capture a grizzly bear that killed 59-year-old John Wallace of Chassell, Mich., while he hiked near the wildlife-rich Hayden Valley last week. His death was the second grizzly killing of the summer — and only the third since 1986.

But Halloway’s close call in eastern Idaho and the northern Idaho case of Jeremy Hill, who was charged last week with a misdemeanor for killing a grizzly that came near his house while his children were outside, are just two examples of the rising number of encounters between grizzly bears and humans across the region.

By the time they were declared a threatened species soon after the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973, grizzly numbers had dropped to only a few remnant populations in Yellowstone and high in the mountains around Glacier National Park in Montana and in the Selkirks in North Idaho.

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