923446220

923446220

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING, UNITED STATES - 2017/06/02: A Mother Grizzly and her cub walk through a meadow in Yellowstone National Park. (Photo by Will Powers/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Photo by: SOPA Images

SOPA Images

Yellowstone’s Oldest Bear was a Whopping 34 Years Old

By: Lucy Sherriff

The oldest grizzly thought to have roamed the Yellowstone region was identified as being a whopping 34 years old, after biologists spotted a mark on his lip made in 1989.

February 23, 2021

The bear was sadly euthanized last summer — in a decision made by US Fish and Wildlife Service — as he was caught preying on calves owned by nearby ranchers in southwestern Washington. On examination, scientists saw the number 168 tattooed on his lip, which enabled the biologists to date him.

There are around 728 grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and they’ve gradually expanded their habitat by more than 50%. The number of females producing cubs in the park has remained relatively stable since 1996, according to the NPS, which suggests that the park may be at or near ecological carrying capacity for grizzly bears. The park is home to both grizzly and black bears, with the former having a much smaller range in the US than the black bear.

The grizzly — also known as the brown bear in coastal Alaska and Eurasia — is only seen in a few isolated locations in the lower 48 states. Until 1975, they were listed as a threatened species due to unsustainable levels of human-caused mortality, habitat loss, and significant habitat alteration. In the same year, two grizzlies were killed in Yellowstone after they entered an illegal campsite.

The bear’s age came as a surprise as females usually outlive male bears. The oldest known grizzly female lived to 27, meaning the bear found last year was older by a long shot. When he was caught, bear 168 had just three remaining teeth, ground down to almost nothing, which would explain why he was hunting calves, as they are easier prey.

“It was sad that we had to put him down, but ethically there was nothing else that could be done, Dan Thompson, a biologist with Wyoming Game and Fish told the Jackson Hole News and Guide.

1166867680

1166867680

Yearling grizzly bear cub standing in Yellowstone National Park.

Photo by: Troy Harrison

Troy Harrison

The bear first was caught in the Shoshone National Forest in 1991 when he was three years old, and weighed 450 lbs, much more than the 170 lbs that he weighed when he died. The bear was also captured north of Dubois in May 1996, but lost its radio collar the following year. It’s not known exactly where the bear was for the remaining years, but DNA tests indicate that he was father to a litter of three cubs in either 2005 or 2006.

Scientists believe, based on genetic evidence, that the male bred when he was 31 years old, saying there is “good potential” that he sired another litter in 2009, back when he was 23.

Relocating the animal, even though he had avoided known conflict for decades, “wouldn’t have been the right thing to do,” Thompson added.

Next Up

The Battle is on to Save North Carolina's Rare Red Wolf

There are less than 10 wild red wolves left in the world and there’s a fierce battle going on to save them. The wolves, a rare red species, are only found in North Carolina, despite having once roamed throughout the eastern and south central US.

How to Help Save the World’s Endangered Rhinos

World Rhino Day, on September 22, aims to celebrate the black, white, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan rhinos, and all the subspecies in-between.

Species Loss is a Disaster for Wildlife and Humankind

Biodiversity and species loss is a grave threat, facing not only animals and plants but society too. Ecologists say that losing species directly affects human food production, water supply, building materials, and energy sources, so our interactions with and handling of ecosystems must be regulated.

Meet the Deep Sea Sharks that Glow in the Dark

The largest bioluminescent creature on land or sea was found in the ocean near New Zealand.

Condors are Missing in California’s Wildfire Blaze

A conservation success story in California has taken a turn for the worst following the catastrophic blazes that have swept the state over the past month.

Orcas Earn Their Killer Nickname in Brutal Attacks on Sharks

Six sharks washed up on a beach a few hours away from Cape Town, South Africa. As reported to Newsweek, these great white sharks were found dead, but the remains were meticulously torn apart. So what happened?

Experts Say Plan Now for Pet Separation Anxiety

For many people, the silver lining of the pandemic is the time we've been able to spend with our furry friends. But, as places begin to open up, the separation will be hard. Here are a few ways to get your pet ready for the time when you go back to work.

Locust Swarms Plague India

With New Delhi, India on high alert after a nearby swarm of locusts, this terrifying natural phenomenon is enabled by ever-changing climate conditions and unique species behaviors.

Latest COVID-19 Ruling is Terrible News for the Planet

Companies do not need to meet environmental standards during the coronavirus epidemic, the Environmental Protection Agency has said, in a move that could have deadly impacts on the planet.

The Truth About COVID-19 and Your Animals

Experts in the medical and veterinary fields help clear up rumors and answer your burning questions about how COVID-19 affects animals.
Related To: