Episode #17: Special Guest, Dan Thompson Joins the RadCast Outdoors Podcast to Talk About Grizzly Bears

Grizzly Bear Episode RadCast Outdoors Podcast

Photo Courtesy of Dan Thompson

Bears defend 3 things: Food, Young and Personal Space... Learn more from the experts.

Dan Thompson, PHD from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department joins the RAD Cast Outdoors podcast for a very special show on grizzly bears. Wyoming and the GYE have a large number of grizzly bears. Dan goes in depth on the number of grizzly bears, what they eat, how they act and so much more. He provides resources for hunters and anglers who venture into bear country. He gives insight into what drives bear behaviors and how to avoid a deadly encounter.


Truth about Grizzly Bears and the ESA 

[00:00:00] Hey, RAD cast 

is on. 

Hunting, fishing, and everything in between. This is RAD cast Outdoors here are David Merrill and Patrick Edwards. All right. Welcome 

to another episode of RAD Cast Outdoors.

Patrick Edwards: I'm Patrick. I'm David. And we are here again with our special guest. Dan Thompson to talk about one of our favorite animals to talk about.

I mean, it circulates through the community like wildfire. It's grizzly bears. And so we brought Dan back in. Dan is with Wyoming game and fish department and he is the large carnivore supervisor. So he gets to deal with all the big critters 

David Merrill: with his hands on them. Yeah. 

Patrick Edwards: Trap sedate them, do all those wonderful things, learn about them.

So he's got a lot more knowledge than everybody else. Who's kind of like an armchair quarterback on Grizzlies and thinks they know everything about them. So [00:01:00] we've dealt with those 


Dr Dan Thompson: Yeah. 

Patrick Edwards: So he also gets to work with folks that, you know, have livestock predation, all kinds of different issues. So he's, he's the man who has the knowledge.

So we brought him in here to talk about grizzly bears. So Dan, thanks for coming in. Yeah. Thanks for having me guys. Yeah. So just again, give everybody a recap of your background how you kind of got into this job and where you're from. 

Dr Dan Thompson: Sure. I grew up in on a farm in Iowa, actually a lot of Midwesterners end up in the mountains cause we want to be here, I guess.

You know, I always had a passion for the outdoors, grew up hunting and fishing and trapping. And at a young age, I kind of wanted to work like as a biologist working with wildlife. And went school at South Dakota State and got a degree in that and then bounced around quite a bit and ended up going back to school and bounced around doing wildlife jobs.

It's kind of a nomadic lifestyle, working three months here, six months there, trapping mice or doing veg work but there, it, it gets you a lot of [00:02:00] different places. And so and I went back to school I worked on turkeys. And then I ended up working, doing graduate work on mountain lions, which was something I'd always wanted to do.

And that's kind of what led me here. I, when I finished that up, I was fortunate enough to get a position in Lander as a, basically as a lion biologist for the state. But all of us large carnivore biologists do a lot of different things. And I did that. For about five years and then put in for the current position as supervisor and sold my soul to do that.

I guess. No, but it's obviously less, less field time, but but we got a great crew and I'm just happy to be part of it. So, yeah, that's where I've been. And game and fish for over 12 years now. That's 

Patrick Edwards: awesome. Yeah. And it's good to have you on here. Grizzly bears are very popular topic at the moment. We have a number of encounters and we'll focus in on that a little bit today, but we've had a lot [00:03:00] of encounters with folks and grizzlies already.

And then not to mention, there's also expansion of grizzly bear range that we're starting to find out about. So we'll have you talk about that a little bit, but So let's start with, you know, grizzly bears are controversial animal because they're big, they're powerful, and they kind of have a temper. At least the ones here in Wyoming do.

They, they're a little bit reactive. So can you tell us just a little bit about the species itself and, and, you know, what people ought to know about them? Sure. 

Dr Dan Thompson: You know, yes, you. Grizzly bears are more aggressive than black bears and which black bears are kind of ubiquitous throughout Wyoming and we've seen expansion with black bears too, as we have with grizzly bears, but grizzly bears are still relegated to northwest Wyoming, but you know, they kind of their evolutionary process.

With most animals is fight or flight. There's not much flight with grizzly bears. It does happen but Yeah, they are more aggressive and it's because of [00:04:00] how they evolved Apex dominant predator. Yeah, and dealing with everything around them. And they very actively defend three things, their food, their young, if they have them and their personal space.

And so that's what's important for the public to know is that those things if you, I guess, defy any of those things, you're, you're potentially in a really bad situation with a bear where we see most of our injuries or attacks or surprise encounters. We've had two in Wyoming this spring. Basically it just, and it happens so quick.

It's hard to explain how that happens even to the most prepared person. And so that's one thing we really try to instill in people is that you're trying not to surprise a bear and try to stay out of areas that like during the day when they're sleeping in dark timber, if you don't have to go through some of that country, try not to.

And just a general awareness when you're out in the woods that there's that, that potential is there with grizzly bears. 

Patrick Edwards: So here's another question that I have [00:05:00] is. You know, what is the best, you know, grouping or size of group that you should go in if you're going to go into the outdoors, because a lot of these guys that we see, they're 

Dr Dan Thompson: solo.

Sure. Yeah. I mean, traveling in groups helps because it gives more eyes and. Inherently, you're being making noise. And so groups of four or more really suggested if you're, if you have that ability to do so, I would realize not everybody does. And I like being by myself when I'm outside. But there's, there's times that it's just, if you can, if you can have extra people with you just to, just so you have those, that heightened awareness, you can look in both directions at once, basically, and make some noise.

And so, yeah, that, that really does help to have. I think as much as because you're making more noise with that many people and it's more intimidating to a bear. If it's a surprise encounter, it might bluff charge, but if there's four to five people, they're less likely to continue that charge. And if there's [00:06:00] just one person, I guess put it that way.

David Merrill: So what is the average, you know, size of our grizzly bears here? 

Dr Dan Thompson: That's a great question. Cause we hear how big they are. And they're. Our females will run two to three hundred pounds an adult and those males will get a lot bigger, you know But they're maybe six 

David Merrill: is the top. Yeah, right. We're not looking at thousand pound 

Dr Dan Thompson: We don't have the coastal Alaskans here that are over a thousand.

We actually caught and removed a bear. There was a repeat offender Last summer, there was over 700 pounds. Wow. And that's the biggest bear most of us had ever seen. So what was his age? Oh, he was, I think, 12 years 

David Merrill: old. What's the average age for a healthy adult 

Dr Dan Thompson: male? Well, I don't know I could say average, but, you know, they, they reach, we kind of consider them an adult once they're five years old.

That's when they're part of the breeding population and they'll, they'll live to up the upper twenties the, they really kind of hit [00:07:00] their stride in that once they get eight to 10 years and then they really, you know, there's a, with the high density of bears that we have, excuse me, in Wyoming, you really see a lot of those interactions among males.

And those older males are just, they're almost their whole head and neck is scar tissue. It's pretty impressive and busted canines from fighting each other and notched ears. And that they, they really put a beating on each other as they get as their territorial, as far as a female goes. So but yeah, we, we've caught multiple bears over 20 years old.

But then once they get over that 20 year timeframe, a lot of things that we see is the teeth get really worn and they're just, they start to senesce just like, like you know, elk or deer, they can only grow those big antlers for so long and they start to senesce into older age. And we see that in those, the mid to upper twenties with grizzly bears, if they make it that long.

Patrick Edwards: Yeah. Going back to conflict, what's [00:08:00] the most common conflict? Is it? The bore grizzly or is it the sow? 

Dr Dan Thompson: It depends on the type of conflict and the situation. You know, we've seen a shift in Wyoming as bears have expanded. And I know we're going to talk about expansion, but we're seeing a lot more bears in, in agricultural and human dominated landscapes.

We've seen a shift over time. We used to have a lot more garbage property damage, things like that, but. Basically, because of what the public has done to secure attract it's in the education that we and other agencies have done. We've seen that shift more toward our primary conflicts. Nowadays are with livestock depredation as bears have expanded into those areas.

And so we spent a lot of time with that. Now but we still have, you know, then there's the human injuries and those are, those are, those are elevated because you know, you got somebody getting hurt. Mm-hmm. . And so we with those we see a lot of situations [00:09:00] with females, with young, with those surpris encounters and those types of situations.

And you know, I talked about what they defend. So those surprise encounters, we see a lot more, we see a decent proportion of those females with young because they're defending young and likely they're on a food source too. And we do, you know, we generally, on the edge of, as this expansion occurs, the, the first, I guess, wave of, Bear that you're likely to see are these transient young males and so as they expand into new areas That's usually the type of animals we're dealing with or younger males these four to five year old males three to five year old males But once in a population is established It's kind of a mix of all and we do have those we have like when we're talking livestock depredation You'll get some opportunistic Killing that occurs.

And like with females, it's kind of interesting. Sometimes those females with [00:10:00] young depending on the year, they might, they might kill cattle and they have cubs, but then as they're older, they're able to find food differently, but The one thing that, you know, based on our years of expertise and experience that you do see is certain bears figure it out and they just become chronic 

David Merrill: depredators habituated to, it's easy to catch 

Dr Dan Thompson: a calf that that's, and that's what they do.

And those are the bears that we. that we catch and attempt to remove from the population because it's just, they're not for the greater good of bears, maintain them in the lines on the landscape. That's better to remove those chronic repeat offenders. And that's based on actually research done here in Wyoming years ago.

David Merrill: So with respect to carrying capacity and population densities, kind of where are we at in the GYE? 

Dr Dan Thompson: We're at or above carrying capacity for the habitat that we have in the GYE, probably have been for a few years. So we're going to start 

David Merrill: seeing more of these [00:11:00] dispersal, not less of it. Yeah, 

Dr Dan Thompson: I mean, unless, unless something changes, but we're, we're definitely seeing.

We're seeing bears in areas that haven't been for hundreds of years, which, you know, we've talked about this before ecologically fascinating, but realistically kind of terrifying from my, from my standpoint, for the bears and for the bears and people, because we don't want. We don't want those, I mean, things can get ugly really quick.

David Merrill: There's a joke in Alaska where you know, you need to, when you're out hiking, you need to wear bells, right, to alert the bears. And you need to be able to identify the difference between the black bear scat and the grizzly bear scat. And the difference is, is in the grizzly bear scat is a bunch of little bells.

And they smell like 

Patrick Edwards: pepper, right? Yes. Yeah, that's, that's a fact. And, you know, go back to. What are these, what are these guys eat? Because I, there, there are a lot of people that are like, Oh, grizzly bears just eat meat. Well, 

Dr Dan Thompson: they eat everything. [00:12:00] Their dietary plasticity is the fancy term for it. They're extremely adaptable.

They're the epitome of omnivory. They eat all kinds of things. We had to, one of the previous D listings and relistings we had to analyze. Basically, the impacts of changes in food sources for grizzly bears and found out that specifically the white, yeah, the whitebark pine was brought up because whitebark pine as a, as a population of our species of whitebark pine was on the decline because of.

Blister rust and a pine beetle. 

David Merrill: And the thing I appreciate about that is, you know, on the surface, the, the lawsuit, when I followed some of it was, Hey, that this food source is threatened. So therefore the bears are going to be threatened. And I mean, kudos to you guys. You guys went out and did a scientific method research, followed somebody, followed bears around and sifted poop, right.

Figured out what they're eating and weighed 

Dr Dan Thompson: bears. And yeah, there was, yeah. [00:13:00] Cause we had to look at so many different things. And because we've been studying the population for decades, we had a lot of data through time that allows us to evaluate changes. And, you know, one thing we found is that. That a lot, there's a third of the bears don't even have whitebark pine in their home range.

So they're not, it doesn't matter to them, obviously, and basically found that bears freak grizzly bears in the GWA frequently consume 75 different types of foods on an annual basis. And there's, that's incredible. There's general types and times a year that they're eating certain things. The at the end of the day and anybody who's worked with bears yet I mean there there are the epitome of adaptability into sometimes we don't get wildlife enough credit You know you have generalists and then you have specialists and a generalist finds food and that's what we see with grizzly bears and so Yeah, when we looked at that the overall All these different things in relation [00:14:00] to the changes in whitebark pine, what we found overall through multiple publications was that any changes in the trajectory of the population, because so the population looked like it was leveling out somewhat, still growing, but not as much as it was in the 80s, 90s, but any changes were more related to density dependence, you can only fit so much of any type of animal in one area at one time, and so that's what we're seeing and we have been seeing for several years now, 

David Merrill: multiple years.

Yeah. There's something I found kind of similar to that is my father drew a tag in Starkey Experimental Forest in Oregon 15 years ago, right? And I looked at a lot of the data and research and, you know, the year before we hunted it, they doubled the amount of hunters in there. You would think that they'd double the harvest rate.

They actually had a, about a 5 percent less harvest rate because there's only so many saddles. There's only so many choke pinch points. There's only so many ambush sites, right? So as a two legged hunter, you [00:15:00] know, predating on elk, if you put 10 hunters in the same area, that's. Traditionally only been able to harvest five bulls.

You're not going to see all of a sudden 10. So if you put 10 grizzly bears in the same drainage, you know, and next year you dump 20 in there that you're, you're going to have problems. Yeah. 

Dr Dan Thompson: And it's, there's only so much, there's only so much caring capacity for, for any of our wildlife and that's all those dynamics are changing.

The GYE is very unique in that we have the intact carnivore guild. So the same, basically all the same animals that were here now are here a thousand years ago. And, but we've seen a lot of changes, wolves were brought back in, grizzly bears have expanded and the prey populations have changed through time.

And all these things are, these dynamics are continually changing. And what we're seeing now is more human use of a lot of areas in this spring, you know, throw a worldwide pandemic into the mix. And and it's funny, I was just writing something about. You know, there's been some people looking at, I'm [00:16:00] sorry, I'm kind of getting off task here, but people looking at wildlife populations and more urban, ex urban areas.

And you know, like animals moving into town because people aren't there, but Wyoming from, I mean, I think what we've seen more is more people coming and using the woods and escaping. Their reality of city life or places to get away from their own quarantine issues and pushing into the areas where wildlife are.

It's almost like it's the opposite here in Wyoming, 

Patrick Edwards: but yeah, I saw an article state park usage is way up here in Wyoming and it's because people are going nuts, man. They, they want to get outside. They want to go play. They want to do something. And. You know, it's no mistake that there were more shed hunters this spring, or more people out on the hills, combing the hills for antlers and just getting outside.

And so of course you're going to have more conflict because there's plenty of bears. And so that chance for interaction just goes way, way up. 

Dr Dan Thompson: Yeah. I think there was a huge factor [00:17:00] this spring, you know, in the GYE we've had six human injuries with grizzly bears, which we might have a couple in the spring and usually more in summer, fall when there's more people, but.

Yeah, there's a lot more people out in the woods and we have got a lot of 

David Merrill: bears. Yeah, we had 12 injured with coronavirus and 6 injured with grizzly bears. Think about that for a second. 

Patrick Edwards: I did want to ask you, I saw a video recently from Yellowstone of a grizzly bear taking down a bison. Oh yeah, yeah. And that was interesting to watch because it was definitely a duel of life and death where the bear came out on top.


David Merrill: wasn't Hollywood quick clean 

Patrick Edwards: and that's I'm sure it was horrible to watch for some of the people because I mean, it's it's it's life It's what's gonna happen up there and people got a dose of what a grizzly bear's power is I mean the fact that a grizzly can actually take down a bison is Incredible.

Dr Dan Thompson: Sorry, [00:18:00] that's my phone. No Yeah, you know I watched that too like I'm sure thousands or millions of people watch at this point but it shows That was very interesting. And it's not a big bear, not a big bison, but basically that bear learned how to kill that animal during the time they were, they were filming it.

And we see it, you know, when a, when a bear kills, like we see it with cattle. Like calves and things like that. They basically, the way they kill them is a bite to the back. But if you watch that, you saw the bear started toward the hind end and bison are much, their vertebrae are so different because it's got the process in the middle with that extra muscle tissue.

So watching it, it can't get that bite in the back like it might with, with domestic cattle and, but just the focus of that animal, the grizzly bear. literally walking across the bridge with the, with the [00:19:00] bison. And then once they got in the water, then it was advantage grizzly bear, obviously. And but yeah, I think it's eyeopening for people to see.

That's, that's real life there, you know, in the, in the outdoor world. And I thought it was kind of fascinating that basically that bear went through all that weaving through cars and people and didn't seem to care. Then once he got that. Bison down, then you saw the head pop up and look around like, geez, I've been being filmed the whole time, you know, but that just shows that focus they have and, and yeah, when, and there's times that animals get away, of course, but it just shows you the power from that.

And there's a video that was taken of a, a smaller female grizzly bear taken down a calf that was. Bigger than her, basically. This was several years ago on Northwest Cody. And yeah, it shows, it shows how it happens and the [00:20:00] reality of how those things occur on the ground. 

Patrick Edwards: So, you know, we, we know how powerful these animals are.

They're, they're huge. And I know people are afraid of them. I know I am, I have a healthy respect for them. So, you know, big news lately has been, Hey, they're, they're moving around. They're dispersing. And so I wanted you to just talk about. Where they're dispersing. Cause a lot of people don't know where Viva Naughton is for one thing, and just kind of why they're dispersing out.

Dr Dan Thompson: Sure. Sure. And that's again, it's based on the population overall and the high density. It's just a natural, it's kind of concentric from, you know, when they started original recovery zone, which was right around Yellowstone and they. Like I mentioned, the males will disperse more so at the beginning, or not the beginning, but the males are the first to disperse.

Females more set up shop next to where their mother was. It's called phylopatry and see with all carnivores, well, all more solitary carnivores, but it [00:21:00] takes a longer for the females to continue to move out. And there's a whole nother false notion out there that the reason that we're seeing increased dispersal is because there's no food left in the interior.

And that's completely false, and we've already disproven that with data and science, but that's still being used and against delisting. And so it's just a natural phenomenon of dispersal that we see as we get more and more bears in the landscape. We had the one that, the Viva Not one you're talking about, which is the furthest south we've documented.

Grizzly bears in recent history as a picture of one bear looked like a subadult male, like, but not like a little guy, but not a big adult boar yet. But that's kind of what I expect to see there. There's a, I don't know that it's even hit the news yet, but we got video of two bears in South pass area just yesterday, which is not new.

I mean, we've had bears there before. But, you know, we've seen a lot of [00:22:00] expansion on that Absaroka front, so from, well, I shouldn't say, I'm not trying to separate between Montana and Wyoming, but that whole Absaroka front, which wraps around the Red Lodge in that country, they're experiencing these expansions that we are too.

And, you know, those are, those are the ones that keep you up at night when you have bears moving in to basically ag and just an area that there's a lot of potential for trouble. It's going to increase your workload. Well, we really see that that footprint really increases and the potential, you know, high density of bears in backcountry areas is a lot different than.

More bears expanding into farmland and residential areas and things like that. I talked to, I talked to one of our guys in Cody this morning and he had five or six bears within like within five miles, I think, no, 10 miles of the Cody game and fish office, [00:23:00] and that's not in the mountains. So and again, it's like, we hear that all the time.

Well, who are we to tell the bears what's good habitat and what's not. But we've also evolved to the point where we have to. Kind of identify areas where a bear has got the potential to make it without getting in trouble. And thinking of human safety. And so those are the, that's why we have some social and biological characteristics of what good bear habitat is.

And we've, I mean, we've expanded well beyond that the, all the recovery criteria for grizzly bears have been met for multiple years. Now it's just, it's embattled in the courts now. And there's a lot of, there's a lot of frustrations out there, depending on how your feelings are with grizzly bears.

That's for sure. We, and we hear that. Well, 

David Merrill: as an archery elk hunter, you know, I've, I've mentioned this in the past couple of times, the things I'm doing are almost enticing the bears, right? You know, mimicking their, their prey sounds, [00:24:00] putting myself in, in that dark North face timber midday, you know, and you know, what, what, what would your suggestion to me as an archery hunt elk hunter be to try and mitigate at least lessen my potential 

Dr Dan Thompson: risk?

Well, and that's something that we talked about earlier. If you can at least hunt with at least a partner. Take turns or do whatever to have one person more eyes on a swivel and the other person calling or whatever. But you're already aware of the situation. So you're, you're, you're realizing that you're hunting in grizzly country.

A lot of times we have people that are somewhat, they're like, yeah, I heard there's bears here. And like, yeah, there's actually a lot of grizzly bears here. But I think it's that. Some, some of those places can be avoided and you know, those bears are sleeping in that dark timber. And so like, if you're not actively hunting, you're moving through the woods.

That's where we've had several of these happen where it's a guy coming back from a morning hunt. or going out [00:25:00] through his dark timber. And they make a little more noise. wher but having another set of things. And e

Flyers to every person, every nonresident Elk Hunter about safety and things you can do to reduce that risk. And, you know, there's a whole, there's that part of it. And then there's a whole nother. Once you have an animal down, because then, you know, the bears have figured that out. And thereafter, the stuff that we're generally throwing away, the highest protein material in there is the, is the organs and things like that, that generally most people don't keep, I'm a fan of heart.

So I try to keep those and I'm a bad enough shot that I never. Hit the hearts, but but you know, that's what the bears are [00:26:00] keyed in on is that. And so if you can, when you're processing meat, if you can separate that from the, the, the guts and the carcass from. your quarters if you have to do it. We talked before if you can quick quarter and get him out of there.

And then that's where it's really nice to have another person because one person I would suggest is just on century if you're processing me. And then if a bear comes, don't, don't try to beat the bear as far as getting at me. And that's, that's, and that's tough. But if if you can put. Put it in a, if you have to leave it you have to put it in a place that you can't hang it.

It's gotta be really open when you go in the next day. 

David Merrill: I'm still going as far as we'll move it as far as we have to, you know, and we'll stay out there. I mean, there's been a couple of times it's been midnight or one o'clock when we finally hit the main trail and start leaving, but we've moved the meat.

Couple hundred yards away from the the gut pile. Yep, and we try and hang it somewhere [00:27:00] open You know, we're at least be shaded in the morning, but I want to see those quarters Yeah. Hanging in the tree when I'm a couple hundred yards away. No, 

Dr Dan Thompson: and that's, and that's the smartest thing you can do. And like I said, those bears, and we've had, you know, we had a couple bad falls of really aggressive bears and some of those bears aren't part of the population anymore, which is a good thing.

Cause they're, they're just, they're moving beyond that normal. This is a food source to an aggressive behavior, but we've seen other bears that would literally Stand in the woods and wait until they separated the gut pile from the quarters, and once they left, they'd just go eat the gut pile. And 

David Merrill: so but once they claim that gut pile, it's theirs, it's no longer yours.

Patrick Edwards: Exactly. Well, there was that study where they tracked bears that were tracking hunters. Basically for that reason, they're waiting for that opportunistic op, you know, it's like, Ooh, gut pile. Yeah, that's mine. You know, and, and so that just talk a little bit about that and [00:28:00] what went into that. 

Dr Dan Thompson: And sure. That was just, they're trying.

And another. There was a, was more of a public hypothesis that the late elk hunting or elk reduction program in Teton Park was bringing a bunch of bears in. That was the impetus for the study, quite honestly, just more to try to answer that question because it's a lot later. And what they found is that it's not bringing bears in, it's the bears that are there, just more active and searching out those gut piles as we see.

And but yeah. They're opportunistic. Yeah. 

David Merrill: They're going to utilize easy food 

Dr Dan Thompson: source. And that's, and that's, there's a, there's.

Thousands of thousands of pounds of, of that food source in the fall for bears. And I mean, they're, that's when they're hyperphagic, they're eating whatever they can to gain weight. And like I said, all those organs that we leave, that's the stuff that packs on the pounds. And so they've, that's part of their.

David Merrill: Didn't you guys do some sort of research or study and show that these bears here are slightly [00:29:00] more carnivorous 

Dr Dan Thompson: than... Yeah, there is a higher meat diet in the GYE population than other brown bear populations in North America. Is that 

David Merrill: just because that's an easier food source that they have, or? 

Dr Dan Thompson: Yeah, and I think it's because of where they evolved here on the prairie and in the mountains as that as a food source.

And I think there's also, as you get further north with the bear population, there's a lot more vegetative component, a lot more berries and a lot more things like that to eat. You know, if you look at it, you look at the black bears in eastern U. S. that are bigger than our grizzly bears here, but because they have all that, that masting, they have acorns, they have.

Berries and things like that that they can feast on I think there's just that's not as prevalent here in the GYE So that meat part came a higher portion of their diet here 

Patrick Edwards: Yeah. And the brown bears up in Alaska are just eating up all those salmon and getting humongous. And they have all that grass to eat too.

I mean, 

Dr Dan Thompson: yeah, I think there's like [00:30:00] crazy the, I think that's the, the bigger, the, the environment is more conducive to that vegetative component that you see more 

David Merrill: of the salmon berries in Alaska on some of those bushes. I mean, there's bushels of berries 

Dr Dan Thompson: available for that. I mean, you look at that in the Northwest us, I mean, those black bears, they're just feasting on all those berries and they get to the point.

If you've hunted them, I don't know if you have, but like their fat is purple, purple from blackberries, blackberries. And so I think that's just, I think it's more of a function of, and we have berries here and. And they definitely key in on them. The bears do, but I just think there's a higher density of some of those vegetative components in these, in other areas with, with 

Patrick Edwards: grizzly bears.

I know up around lander that late in the season, you've got, you know, raspberries and different things up there that are wild and there's plenty of bear scat. So I know the bears are in there coming through there, eating whatever they can get their mouth 

Dr Dan Thompson: on. Choke cherries is a big one, especially for black bears.

Sometimes it's a disadvantage because if, if there's not good food on the mountain, [00:31:00] there's usually still good choke cherries down below. And every three to five years we have one of those bad blackberry, well not bad, but blackberry years where they kind of show up and and we have to deal with some of those things.


Patrick Edwards: I was hunting around battle mountain down you know, around bags. And I remember I was bow hunting. You'd be proud of me. And this was a long time ago, but anyway, there was a deer that I was trying to get to, and there was a big berry patch and had a real close encounter with a small, very small.

Black bear, you know, sub adult male or female. I don't know. He was small, but anyway, it gets your attention and they definitely key in on those things. Cause I mean, it was just berries. He was in there eating, doing his thing and didn't have any clue that I was there. Cause I was trying to be 

Dr Dan Thompson: quiet. Well, and that was, you mentioned that earlier.

I think it's important to understand those, to read sign and to, to know what bear scat is. And it shows you what they're eating. And so there's a reason to avoid some of those berry patches if you [00:32:00] can. Certain times a year when that's right, because you know, there's going to be a bear and black bear, because more, I mean, black bears are more keen on the, on the berries, but.

The grizzly bears eat them too. That scat's gonna tell you where the bear was and where it's eaten. You can use that to your advantage, quite honestly. 

David Merrill: How quickly can a grizzly bear clean up you know, the remnants of a carcass that a hunter leaves? You know, the gut pile and, and such? 

Dr Dan Thompson: Like the main gut pile, a bigger male can clean them up pretty quickly.

I mean, the main organs. Within a day, probably, and it depends on what's left on the carcass, of course, and then if you have a family group on a carcass, they can clean it up really quickly. I mean, we see it like with mountain lions, too. If they make a kill, they can clean it up in a couple days if it's older kittens, so.

And they're, like I said, when they're hyperphagic, they're eating everything. So they can, they can clean them up pretty quick in a couple of days. 

Patrick Edwards: Yeah. You talked about listing and that's a, that's a big topic is why are they still listed and [00:33:00] just, you know, if you can kind of help everybody understand why that is and kind of what goes into that, because we talked about it with wolves.

And I encourage everybody to go back, listen to the wolf and the mountain lion episodes, those are episodes eight and nine. You can find them at rag cast outdoors. com. The thing that is interesting to me is, you know, they're not on the same level as wolves. Wolves are extremely polarizing. You've got the wolf loving person, I guess you could say, that just thinks they do nothing bad or, you know, they just glorify them.

And then you have people who hate them. So, grizzly bears are a little different category. They're not quite to the same level of, you know, people getting all frantic, but speak for yourself. At least a level of hate. 

David Merrill: I'm not scared of wolves in the woods. I'm scared of 

Patrick Edwards: grizzly bears. No, but what I mean is, you know, wolves are worshipped.

Oh yeah. I mean, it's a whole different level, but with grizzly bears. There, there's definitely some of that too. And we've been at the right [00:34:00] place for population for quite a long time. And so if you can kind of just talk about that and what kind of goes into that right now. Yeah. And 

Dr Dan Thompson: I think one of the big differences between wolves and grizzly bears, biologically speaking, is wolves are much more prolific, you know, they can have nine pups in a year and once they're established, it's pretty hard to get rid of them.

But grizzly bears are much, much slower. As far as reproduction, they, they don't start reproducing until four or five years old. And then they, different than black bears, they spent another year with their offspring. And so it is a, it's a slower March, like I said, than it is with, with other animals, but, but they're still, they're very fecund.

It's just a little slower. And so I think people realize that. And with With the grizzly bears as far as D listing, I don't remember the initial question now, but but oh And how people think about those things? I think there's [00:35:00] a it's difficult as far as we've biologically recovered them based on the recovery criteria that have evolved through time with the population and but there's a lot of segments out there that have different notions of what recovery is.

And, and there's quite honestly, you can, you can find sympathetic judges to your cause. And the ESA is one of the most powerful things ever enacted by Congress. It was done in the seventies and it hasn't been revised since and it does a great job at what it's supposed to do. And grizzly bears are the, they should be the emblematic symbol of how the ESA works, except the goal of that is to delist and move forward.

And there's still protections in place when an animal is delisted, we still have protections in place. We should 

David Merrill: celebrate when we reach those. Those repopulation [00:36:00] parameters, right? That goalpost, that goal line's been met. And then all of a sudden, you know, we get this renegotiation and jockeying, political, whatever, and all of a sudden, oh, we're going to double the goalpost.

It's like, wait a second. Like you've, you've hinted at, we've had this dispersion. We we've kind of reached saturation as far as their suitable habitat. I mean, they're not going to, grizzly bears are not going to fare well in downtown San Francisco. They're not going to fare well in downtown New York. And they're not going to fare well even in downtown Jackson.

Patrick Edwards: Well, and not only that, you're going to have infanticide. You're going to, you're going to have... These bigger bears, these boars are going to start killing their own because you can only handle so much, right? And we've seen 

Dr Dan Thompson: that. Yeah. And yeah, it's just, it's, it's tough being on the ground and yeah, I mean, we should all be celebrating what's happened with grizzly bears and realizing that there's a lot of impacts to people too, depending on what their livelihood is, but.

It should be a success [00:37:00] story. And now it's kind of uses the bludgeon against, against delisting anything. And that, that's unfortunate to me is as a scientist and somebody who's. believe strongly in science and that, that we have demonstrated that we can recover this population, but we can't move beyond that.

And, and it shouldn't just be, there's people that don't want them hunted, but that's the goal is to delist the animal and it should be, and we've met that and we've delisted them twice and then lost in court. And you know, I worry about. tipping points for people that live, work and recreate in grizzly bear country.

I think this summer could be very interesting to see how things play out. Quite honestly, last summer we had a, or last year when the bears were active, we had lower conflicts. We didn't have any human injuries, which was great. But we've already had a couple of this year and. People are already frustrated, [00:38:00] frustrated with their lives.

And yeah, the year, two years ago we had a fatality and and I'm not trying to, it's tough because people say that we, we as an agency try to highlight those things to put a bad spin on bears, but that's not what we're doing. It's just the reality of it. I think they're an amazing animal. I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't, obviously, but, but there's a reality of it too, and.

I don't want, I mean, people and bears can cohabitate in the landscape, but there's, there's gotta be sacrifices on all sides too. And you know, we're past this, no bear left behind phase and. Where we can't, we can't protect every bear and there's just, yeah, there's a, there's a lot of different notions out there and quite honestly, it's turned into a money making scheme for, for people against delisting and that's unfortunate.

Yeah, I 

David Merrill: think that's a whole nother episode. Yeah, it 

Patrick Edwards: is, but I, I want you to kind of highlight where were we in the seventies and where are we now with regards to [00:39:00] population? Sure. 

Dr Dan Thompson: When, when bears were first listed, of course, the. The main reason that there's a lot of issues is because at that time they're in the core of the system and they weren't just in Yellowstone, they were outside, of course, in our wilderness areas and Sunlight Basin, country like that, but they shut down the feeding of the bears, which was created a lot of these food condition bears, which we don't tolerate now.

Back then they were. But once they got rid of that, they had a bunch of bears that were conditioned that had to be put down because they were dangerous and they were, you know, the ability to kill people is a reality with grizzly bears. And so, at one point, the population was thought to be as low as 136 individuals and, and that was, I mean, everything that was being done in those early eighties was to save every bear and rightly so, because something bad could happen and they're gone.

We don't want that. They're not gone. That's something to. To it'd be a local extirpation, but it's not extinction because we have [00:40:00] thank you brown bears, brown bears across all world. Yep. And so, 

David Merrill: North American continent has something like 34, 000 thousands. 

Dr Dan Thompson: Yes. And then you've got, you've still got them in Europe.

You've still got them all throughout Asia. And so I, that people, people use that and it really bugs me. People use extinction. Incorrectly. And anyway, that's another whole nother story, but localized extirpation, extirpation. Yep. That's, that's but that's never happened. We were able to, because there's enough, I mean, because of the power of the ESA and the concerted efforts of multiple agencies in the public and everyone to, to bring this animal back.

And so to the point where. We are, we are now, which is we've demonstrated this population showing carrying capacity impacts and density dependence. We were working to, we do have a conservatively biased estimate, which really takes a lot of people off, myself included. We're trying to get that [00:41:00] better.

And so last year's estimate was 737 bears in the area that we count them. And we know there's more than that. Just based on the techniques we're using it was when it was developed as a lower density of bears So 

David Merrill: 183 in the 70s and a low 700 today. 

Dr Dan Thompson: Well more than that. I mean at the at the bare minimum the bare minimum.

Yeah We're getting punny

Patrick Edwards: on here 

Dr Dan Thompson: today, but yeah, I mean everything points to a fully recovered population and the things that are maintain them listed are More nitpicky things within the ESA or things that weren't done right in the delisting rule and things like that 

Patrick Edwards: So, where do you see this going? I mean do we see delisting in the next five years potentially I 

Dr Dan Thompson: I Don't want anything said out loud about that.

I mean, I sure hope [00:42:00] I would hope we could demonstrate and Move it forward at some point I worry about the constant litigation and that it's going to destroy the endangered species act. I think so. With groups that 

David Merrill: use that method, I mean, hypothetically, if they were delisted, we could still see a population increase, correct?


Dr Dan Thompson: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, there's, and that's something that was consistently said with grizzly bears and still has said with wolves is protections have been stripped, which is false. We still have to demonstrate that the population's recovered. And there's multiple criteria that we have to demonstrate every year.

And that's the thing 

David Merrill: people gloss over, especially with the wolves is, you know, since we've had the couple hunting seasons, the population is still increasing or maintaining. We haven't seen, you know, a 50 percent removal and that's what the. What one side is saying, well, the second they get delisted, they're going to cut the numbers in half and that's just not the 

Dr Dan Thompson: truth.

Well, there's a [00:43:00] lot of fabrications, unfortunately, that gain their own life. Social media really helps that. 

David Merrill: Are you guys transporting grizzly bears with black helicopters onto ranches? No. 

Dr Dan Thompson: Are you sure? We're not taking bears to the bighorns and we're not moving bears into new areas. We hear that a lot.

No, we you know, we've, we've worked hard to, to get to this place, but we got to that place years ago and we'd like to be able to move forward and, and again, focus on the success of, of where we're at with grizzly bears and, and realize that we still will always be very busy with conflict mitigation.

That's part of, that's the only way to keep bears and people on the landscape. Sure. 

Patrick Edwards: And there's nothing against the fish and wildlife service. I don't have a problem with them, but I think it's better managed by our state because, I mean, it's our state and I mean, you guys are, you're, you're on the frontline of dealing with conflict issues and, [00:44:00] and things like that.

And so I think it's better for the bears and for the state and the people in the state. That the Game and Fish is doing, you know, the management piece a lot more. 

Dr Dan Thompson: Yeah. It's a, and it's a cooperative effort, 

Patrick Edwards: right? 

David Merrill: It's gotta be bad service wants to de less too. Yeah. To have it flip back and forth. You know, who's in charge?

Let's, let's have one plan, let's move forward and let's, you know, just like with any other deer, elk, salmon, trout, whatever. Mm-hmm. , let's have a management plan. Let's set some goals, some long-term goals, not every other year we're gonna flip back and forth who has, 

Dr Dan Thompson: you know, who has jurisdiction and that, that gets tough and.

And if you'll look, our management plan, the other states management plans, the overarching conservation strategy for GY grizzly bears, they all have the same things in them. Yep. You know, there's, there's more detail as to on the ground management in the state plans on certain things and how they're, how things will be dealt with.

But at the end of the day, we're all still held to the same recovery criteria. To make sure we're going to keep bears in [00:45:00] the landscape, but also be able to manage the population and there's, you know, that, that was one thing that was brought up when they were delisted this last time that they wanted us to have new objectives, depending on what the population level is.

And there was this notion that. We could, we could remove, we kill 500 bears if we get a new estimate and bring the population down and it's impossible. We can't do that based on the current recovery criteria, but that gained in life of its own. 

David Merrill: Well, I do know, you know, talking to some other sportsmen, this last relisting quote unquote, you know, Aggravated and angered a lot of sportsmen who have been bearing the brunt of these grizzly bear encounters for a while now.

Sure, sure. And I, I mean, I worry about the long term ramification of that. You know, I think being able to get them delisted, have that little bit of a celebratory moment and say, hey, we, this worked. [00:46:00] And then move forward with a, with a more cohesive management plan. Yeah. Would benefit the bears in the long term.

Dr Dan Thompson: Yeah, I agree. You know, of course we had a hunting season in place. And I was, so I was like the guy who got to call people who wanted to, that, that got a tag and like, you just won the lottery, but I was also the same guy that had to call him back later and say, nevermind. But I mean, we were very upfront going into that, that there's a high likelihood that litigation is going to occur.

And that's what happened. There was an injunction that stopped the hunt and then overall, the. They were relisted, but I still talk to a lot of those people that had those, those tags. And yeah, that was, we did a lot of work to, to move forward and it was still it was a conservative harvest that would maintain the population.

Based on science. Yeah. And, and based on the fact that the last thing we want to do is to do something that's going to upset or go beyond [00:47:00] those constraints that we have. And, you know, that's something that, that is lost. A lot of times as we went around the state. Went on tour and basically just said, tell us what you want, which was, it's very nerve wracking for the person saying, because knowing the different thought processes that people have, but I felt, I felt that was very, that process was really informative in that it gave the public like process.

Knowing that we still are going to do based on, you know, our profession, what we feel is right, but this is your chance to provide input into the future of grizzly bear management for the state of Wyoming. And it wasn't just hunting. That was one component of it, but the people got a chance to voice their opinions and all the different communities and all the different stakeholders involved had a say and.

Including the people that are against it. They had a say in that and that was incorporated into [00:48:00] our hunting regulations, all sides of the factor to try to move forward. And, but it was still stopped. And again, then they were, unfortunately that was used as the reason bears shouldn't be delisted as hunting and those should have been separated, but.

That's, that's 

David Merrill: just how it happened. I think it's important to just highlight real quick, you know, cause I followed very closely and I was somebody who signed up to help conservation and paid to be one of those hunters. But, you know, with the way you guys had it set up, it was a very limited harvest.

Right. And that same year with damage problem bears, we removed more than that harvest was ever going to be. Oh, sure. Yeah. And so it, I mean, it's just important to highlight that it's a tool. It's not. You know, all encompassing, we're going to remove all the bears. Yeah, 

Dr Dan Thompson: absolutely. I mean, there's a lot of constraints on what type of harvest levels, and we're never going to do anything to push past those constraints, obviously it was just something, it's one component of the overall conservation [00:49:00] management of grizzly bears, but some people can't get past that component.

Yeah. You 

Patrick Edwards: mentioned that with the wolves when they were, you know, listed and you're still removing them. I mean, it's, it's not like they're. You know, we still have to manage the population for what we need. Right. And so you guys are just trying to do your job and it's nice to be able to have sportsmen help with that conservation and get, I think it's important to also have the sportsmen be bought in because right now all of us are thinking, Oh crap.

I'm going to get attacked by a grizzly bear when I go elk hunting, you know, instead of just having that, having it. Hey, maybe I can draw a tag and be part of the conservation of this majestic animal. That's a whole different ball game. And I think you win more people over with that, but unfortunately it's so polarized on 

Dr Dan Thompson: it.

Yeah, it very much is. I just actually got, excuse me, the final comments from our wolf hunting, which we'll take to the commission, our proposals in July and [00:50:00] yeah, the there's a whole faction of it. That's just people against the hunting of wolves period. That's fine. But, and we'll address that at the commission, but it's just that there's, there's this whole segment that are adamantly opposed to, to that, to any hunting of these animals, these particular animals.

David Merrill: And that's, that's okay. I blame Hollywood in, in part because you know, there's this stigma of, I've heard some people say it, I would rather have a game and fish officer come out and remove a hundred wolves than have a sportsman remove one wolf. There's, there's something, there's a, there's a component there that bothers people.


Dr Dan Thompson: And the main, I might've said that in an earlier podcast told me about the year that over a hundred wolves were removed through agency removal when they were relisted, re relisted over a hundred wolves were killed for, from conflict and damage management. And I had an individual tell me I'd rather that than any wolves would be killed by sportsmen.

And that just, that [00:51:00] doesn't make sense to me. No, 

Patrick Edwards: I think that comes back to the root of just not liking sportsmen in general. And I'm some sportsmen, they bring that on themselves. They do some stupid things, but most of us. Are doing the right thing in the field. And most of us are actually really good folks, you know, and it's just kind of funny how we get this stigma.


Dr Dan Thompson: what they say. They say that a lot about game and fish people. Like once they get to know us, you know, as big of an a hole as I thought, but, but it's true. I wish, I wish there could be more just realizing that there's so much stereotyping and that's a bad part of our society, I guess, but. But yes, the realization that the connection that sportsmen have with wildlife is, is critical and very important.

And it's something that, that we've used to get to the point where we're at today without wildlife. We're seeing expansion of large carnivores throughout North America. We're seeing now, yes, [00:52:00] we're seeing reductions in mule deer throughout the West and some of our most populations, but by and large, most of our ungulate populations are doing well or increasing.

And I mean, you look at black bears in the east, they're doing, they're doing amazing. We're seeing florida panthers are even doing better now, you know, and so if we could focus more on that than the The constant bashing back and forth of this or that. I wish we could do more of 

David Merrill: that. I think that extends all the way to all politics in our nation is if we could just sit down and have a civil discord, right?

Have a conversation and we could probably reach some sort of amicable agreement. Not everybody's gonna get everything they want. Exactly. But the wildlife are gonna win in Yeah, 

Dr Dan Thompson: I've been into some very, some very unique situations. I mean, obviously when we had the grizzly bear hunting discussion in Jackson, Wyoming, you expected it to be highly[00:53:00] contentious and a lot of people.

But quite honestly, there was a ton of people with very differing viewpoints, but everybody sat down. There's a couple people that walked out because they didn't. We split people into groups, and once they realized there wasn't a way for them to get up and beat their chest that they left, and we had several people do that.

But by and large, most people stayed and had civil discussions back and forth. And you're right. I mean, we can. We can do that. We hear from people that That aren't the hunters or fishermen that say, I don't have a say in how things are managed. And that's false. We have a public comment process. We do, we do take those things into consideration, but there's this notion that if we don't do exactly what you do.

What, what the person asked for that we're not listening. That's not true. You can't do everything, but we can listen and realize that's a component and try to incorporate certain things into our regulations that take into account all the different comments that [00:54:00] we hear. And that is, that is something we 

David Merrill: do.

Well, I would certainly appreciate, you know, if we can get this, these next couple of steps done, you know, on, on the side of a horseman and a. Backcountry bow hunter, you know, just taking my kids horse back up to a lake day fishing, right? Yeah, having a grizzly bear encounter with young kids on a horse is not something you want No, and if we could remove some of those more Visible bears from the population the bears that are a little more accustomed to you know Checking out a hunter's camp or or really cruising, you know, I'm not saying all of them I'm not saying but I'm just saying if if over the next 10 years we could remove a couple individuals that are a little more Less human You know, aware, I think longterm that would have some, some lasting impacts on recreating up in the GYE.

Sure. Sure. Yeah. I 

Patrick Edwards: think that, well, I know for me, and we've talked about this before, but I mean, it is a, it is a factor when I decide where I'm going to hunt. [00:55:00] I mean, my, my experience on spread Creek will stick with me the rest of my life being that close to a board grizzly. And I, I mean, there are a lot of people in this community that tell a similar story.

Oh yeah, absolutely. And so I just want to see a win for the people of Wyoming, the grizzly bear in the game and fish department, where we have the opportunity to manage these animals and, and, and do a good job of it. Cause guess what? The game of fish does a great job of managing the animals in this state.

That's why. We get so many people that apply to hunt here. It's like, there's no mistake. No, 

David Merrill: there's no, there's no mistake. This year fishing game is doing a great job and we have great opportunities. I'm just want to highlight for me. I feel like every time I'm spinning the chamber on the revolver, when I go up 

Dr Dan Thompson: there, right.

No, I, and I, and we hear that a lot. There's people that don't hunt Dubois country anymore because of grizzly bears. Yeah, that's me. And well, and it's on, and now as bears have expanded, there's. There's a frustrations and [00:56:00] that we obviously we're and but 

David Merrill: you guys that's what's basically handcuffed in a, in a boxing match right now.

Dr Dan Thompson: Yeah. And that, and that's the irony of it is that there's constant litigation and things being decided and people arguing that, that these bears aren't recovered until they reach their historic levels. And meanwhile, we've got bears. We're getting calls too about there's a bear in my front yard, get 

David Merrill: it out of here, you know.

In downtown Cody. Well, yeah. And they're pushing the boundaries of Riverton. They're not here today, but they will 

Dr Dan Thompson: be. Well, yeah, we've had a couple bears within a mile of Cody this spring. We've had the bear that was behind Dairy Queen. And yeah, it's just the irony is that we deal with all sides of it.

And some people from far away can, I get it, there's people passionate about grizzly bears. I am too. 

David Merrill: We have people from all over the world come check out Yellowstone and the GYE and they all want to take a picture of a [00:57:00] grizzly. Oh yeah. I hear 

Dr Dan Thompson: that roundly. And I, yes, that's great, but we should also be able to move forward and say, yeah, we are recovered.

Patrick Edwards: Yeah. And I, and I hope we get to that point within the next few years, of course, it's out of our hands. Yeah. We have to let the courts do their thing, but I really hope to see something where everybody's on the same page and they're managed by the state, which is where it should be. And, you know, people have those opportunities to go take the pictures, you know, and do that.

  1. I enjoy those pictures, you know, what's that bear that's popular with the four cubs at three 99 and she's all over the place, you know, pictures of her and her cubs. And I think that's great. Sure. But I also, you know, it's like, yeah, let's, let's get to managing this on our own. I think we, Wyoming is pretty 

Dr Dan Thompson: good at this.

And I, I, one thing I'll bring up, sorry, I mean to interrupt. I think there's, there's a notion that you can't, you can't photograph pictures or photograph bears and hunt bears. Like they're mutually exclusive or you can't. [00:58:00] Photograph dichotomy. Well, yeah, you can't photograph them and also delist and manage them, which is false.

You know, we're, that's always going to be a component and they're always going to be visible and it's funny because from the work that, that our agency and all the other agencies in the public have done to recover the animals, we've created a tourism industry for. For Wolfsy, like Wolf Ego Tours and Grizzly Bears and, and, but yeah, we're the bad guys because we also were.

We're left holding the bag of crap when we have to manage things. So it's just, it's very interesting. Yeah. 

David Merrill: You've touched on something very unique there that, you know, people don't quite understand that as a sportsman, as an advocate for wildlife, right. But also someone who consumes wildlife. Some of my favorite pictures are me and my buddies up hiking and there's a spike elk in the background, walked out the meadow, right?

And I would argue and say that, you know, as [00:59:00] a sportsman, I have a deeper, more intimate connection with the wildlife that are on the landscape intact than anybody with any huge telephoto lens driving around in a car ever will. Right? Because if you've spent all day hiking up a trail to get to a high basin to...

catch trout, and all of a sudden you catch a moose, you know, at the bottom end of the, in the willows, and you just take a moment to enjoy the serenity of, here's this moose, and here's the wind, and I'm going to catch a trout, versus the person that drives around in the car taking the, I don't know, photography's great.

Sure. But here, here's my next question. As a duck hunter, I buy a wetland conservation stamp every year to go hunt waterfowl, right? There's plenty of people that go to these Yeah. You know, what rest restored wetlands with their telephoto lens and take a picture of birds as they bought their conservation stamp that paid for those wetlands.

And the answer is 

Dr Dan Thompson: usually no, usually no. And I had the duck stamp. There's a great example of we had duck [01:00:00] waterfowl populations in peril and all that was because of market hunting. And that was realized in the duck stamp brought back. I'm a Midwest kid, so that's what I grew up doing was hunting ducks, you know, but yeah, I mean that, that, that puts those people yourself as part of the reason we have these animals the way they are.

And I think I talked about this, you, you touched on something there. The, the connection that, that people who are sportsmen, sportswomen have to the, to the area that they're hunting or they're to the connection to the land and the wildlife that is missed by a lot of people. And yeah, I think I talked about this on a previous podcast, how nobody likes to go hiking with me because I spend all my time looking at it and I noticed it was my son, which makes me happy because he and I are both bumbling around like, Oh, there's a bug, you know?

But, but you, it's all these things that. That are just the end result of an elk hunt is one thing, but there's everything in [01:01:00] between, you know, I snuck out, I don't hunt till really late because we're busy in the fall. So I do some more like winter late cow tag hunts, but I snuck away a couple, a couple of years ago, just up above Lander and looking for, looking for an elk and I ran into a pine Martin that was watching me.

I spent an hour taking pictures of this pine Martin, you know, interaction back and forth. And there's so much of that. That's missed, I think, by people who don't understand that segment of people that that's how they interact with wildlife. I 

David Merrill: call them consumptive versus non consumptive recreators. But for the non consumptive group, you know, it would behoove them to go look at the story of...

You know, the North American Whitetail, the Turkey, you know, the Rocky Mountain Elk. Go look at their recovery story and how sportsmen, consumptive sportsmen played a vital key role in, in that success story. 

Dr Dan Thompson: And I'd argue that all people are consumptive. You know, if you're it's just from a [01:02:00] different standpoint.

Yeah. If, if, if you're, unless you're not breathing oxygen. Oh, you're a consumer. Yeah. And then those, those people there, there's an impact from a quote non consumptive user on wildlife for sure. And so, and that's another dichotomy that, that. is used by certain groups against each other. But, but yeah, it's a very good point.


Patrick Edwards: So if people want to get to know more about grizzly bears, more in depth than what we went into here, what are some of the resources that you guys 

Dr Dan Thompson: provide? Oh yeah. Tom, check out our website. We've got. We've got a ton of information in our bear wise Wyoming page. It's called, if you go on the game and fish website, just Google bear wise, Wyoming, we'll put it in the show notes too.

Yeah, perfect. And very interactive. There's a bunch of videos, there's, there's things you can print out there's recreating and camping in grizzly bear country. Hunting in grizzly bear country, hiking in grizzly bear country. And so there's a ton of information out there. 

Patrick Edwards: Awesome. Well, [01:03:00] again, I really appreciate you taking the time to come on with us and talk about these bears.

They're incredible animals and i'm excited to see hopefully what happens in the future. Hopefully we can get back to, 

Dr Dan Thompson: hopefully we can do a podcast in the future about management. And Dan, I 

David Merrill: appreciate you you know, applying the scientific method to your job and really, you know, presenting the facts as the best you can.

You know, go out and recover them and, and giving us this data that we, you know, then can make decisions with. No, I appreciate that. 

Patrick Edwards: And again, everybody, if you like this podcast, please go like share rate and go to our website. Rag cast outdoors. com. Like I said, I'll put some info in the, in the show notes for people so that you guys can get some more resources because one of our big goals between David and I is that you can get your family out there and be safe.

And that's, that's a big deal. And when you're in bear country, you need to pay attention and you need to know what's going on. So we'll definitely put that out there. And again, do what you can out there. Be safe. Be bear aware, especially if you're out in this area of [01:04:00] every of the country. And Dan, again, just thank you so much for being on guys.

David Merrill: In the meantime, the weather's great. Get outside and go do something. Enjoy it.

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