Yellowstone National Park reports show stable grizzly bear and wolf populations

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MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, WYOMING – Recently published reports analyzing grizzly bear and wolf population trends over the course of 2018 by Yellowstone National Park show that both species are maintaining a stable population and a increased level of comfort interacting with humans for the grizzly population.

The Yellowstone National Park Bear Management Program Annual Report   describes methods for managing bear mortality counts, human-bear conflict incidents and more. Due to discerning management strategies, actual human-bear conflicts remain relatively low in while the stable grizzly population is becoming more comfortable with human interaction due to an increase of tourists in the area. 

Kerry Gunther, a bear biologist with Yellowstone National Park said “We’ve definitely seen an increase in habituation in bears and even an increasing level of habituation where bears now often tolerate people at very close distances and the people are just kind of benign background noise to the bears,” 

The Wolf Project Annual Report displays information on pup survival, summaries of individual wolf packs, and how biologists are using radio collars to study wolves within the park. Since 2008, the population of wolves within the park has remained stable, with approximately 100 wolves distributed within 10 packs. 2018 surveys found 80 individual wolves.

“There’s no such thing in the National Park Service as ‘should be,’ but it’s probably a more natural level of wolves and elk in the park now,” said Doug Smith, who leads the Yellowstone Wolf Project. “Even though we’re down slightly this year, it’s been roughly stable for 10 years.”

Smith stated that the slight population decline of wolves within the park is likely due to some wolves migrating beyond Yellowstone National Park boundaries.