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Trapping Incident: Grizzly Bear Cub | Shoshone National Forest, WY

Trap Incident Investigation Report
Date Occurred: October 15, 2015
Location: Reef Creek Trail near Windy Mountain, Between Cody and Powell, WY
Species: Grizzly Bear Cub
Outcome: Likely Severely Injured
Trap Type: Conibear, Marten Set
Trap Legality: Likely Legal Trap
Legal Outcome:
A grizzly bear cub was caught in a Conibear set intended for an American marten during furbearer trapping season. The cubs fate is unknown at this time, as it was gone, with the trap, before WGFD could respond.

Wyoming Grizzly Bear Cub Caught in Quick-Kill Trap, Fate Unknown but Bleak

Wyoming Untrapped received a call late Tuesday, Oct 20, from a concerned citizen reporting a grizzly cub trapped in a Conibear in the Shoshone National Forest between the Beartooth Highway and Cody. The cub was discovered this past Thursday, Oct 15, when a passerby heard its cries from the trail leading up to Windy Mountain. We have confirmed with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department that a grizzly cub was indeed caught in an above-ground, baited American marten set. However, by the time WGFD officials responded with required resources to handle a potentially dangerous situation, the cub was gone, along with the Conibear. Conibears are considered ‘quick-kill’ traps. Trappers are only required to check this kind of trap once every week, although the first week of the set allows for up to 13 days of check time. This bear cub was potentially caught for hours, if not days.

A source provided the following account:

A hunter was only a few hundred yards, from the parking area when he heard some terrible sounds coming from the thick brush below. He looked and saw a grizzly sow with cubs, maybe 2 year olds, or one cub of the year. The noise was so loud that he knew something was wrong and went back to call the warden. When the warden arrived, the hunter showed him where to go and although it had taken a few hours for the warden to arrive, the bear was still bawling. The warden said he’d have to get help to deal with this dangerous situation. It’s also an area used by lots of hunters this time of year. Today [he] received a call from the warden. [The Powell game warden] had gone down into the thicket with another G&F guy. The bears were gone, but he discerned that the cub had gotten his foot (foot is what I assume, not his nose) caught in a marten trap. The bear took the marten trap with him and followed his mom out of there…Probably the young cub—grizzly cubs can climb better than moms of course—climbed up to the baited trap. [The reporting individual] didn’t see the trap, as he didn’t go near where the bears were, just heard them.”

If you are in this particular region of the Shoshone National Forest—first, be aware that active traps are in the area. Second, please be on the lookout for evidence of the grizzlies involved, and any details relating to the fate of the grizzly cub. Notify Wyoming Untrapped, or 307-201-2422 of any details. We will continue to search for more details about this particular incident. But this trapping incident raises plenty of questions about the impacts trapping has on wildlife of every sort: What is the fate of this cub?  Is this truly the first time this has happened in Wyoming?  Or are our non-target reports too incomplete because of unclear, unenforced non-target reporting requirements?  Why are trappers exempt from the consequences of the taking of an ESA-listed species, or other protected species without repercussions or accountability? Unfortunately, no animal is immune from the effects of trapping. A legal trap on Wyoming public land has caught a protected species, a grizzly bear cub. Trapping makes the mentality of ‘shoot, shovel, and shut up’ all too easy, especially since non-target incidents, or ‘by catch’ are only required to be reported when the trapper deems the animal unlikely to live. That high degree of discretion inevitably leads to gaps in reporting.

Latest Incident Updates:

This morning, we spoke to Alan Osterland, the Cody, WY Regional Wildlife Supervisor about the status of the grizzly cub that was trapped in a Conibear set for American Marten last week, near Cody, WY. The cub eventually pulled the trap away from the set while still attached to the foot. The trap has not been found, but it has been determined to be a legal trap. It is not known if the Conibear is still attached to the cub’s foot. Unfortunately, we have not been able to reach the Game Warden who investigated the incident. We’ll keep you updated on the cub status when information becomes available. We would probably never know about this incident if the passerby had not heard the commotion, and then made the effort to report.

The status of the grizzly cub remains unknown.


  • Donna Griffen

    Trapping should be banned in this country. There is no need for it in this day and age. The likelihood is this cub is dead or will be soon from infection if not now will be easy prey for a predator. Sounds like it was too close to a main trail too. Thats wrong on all levels. As wildlife is not the only thing that walks these trails.

    • Wyoming Untrapped

      Hi Donna, This isn’t an easy issue, and change comes slowly in Wyoming. But we envision a resolution which will result in a safe and humane environment for all who share our wild Wyoming habitat. It’s time, and Wyoming is fully aware that our current trapping regulations are active on borrowed-time. Thank you for your support.

      • Lisa Zelnick

        Yes, it is an easy issue to fix. Ban them! There is absolutely no way to ever justify this barbaric, inhumane, and monstrous act of trapping. And then, to only have to check them once a week. This entire setup is so horrifically cruel as to defy any comprehension as to how it can still legally exist.

  • Cindy Rock

    I agree that trapping should be banned in our nation. Every year endangered and protected species, as well as pets, are actually trapped and die by getting caught in a trap. Traps are not necessary. Trappers are taking the wildlife of this nation for personal profit. Trappers are being paid with taxpayer dollars to kill wildlife our government is mandated to protect. We have a conflict of interests in this country. On one hand the public who has demanded over and over again that trapping be banned and the wildlife we want protected. On the hand a small group of professional and amateur trappers, supported by a handful of pro-trapping individuals. Enough is enough and we’ve had enough! We’re sick of seeing dead animals, eagles missing legs, bear cubs dead or dying and dead pets. Ban trapping nationwide!

  • Pamela Williams

    This is heartbreaking, as is every incidence of an animal being tortured and maimed. Truly, I put trappers in the same pyschological/pathological category as child molesters and serial killers [of humans]. These people are so removed from concepts of empathy that it is completely unfathomable to me. I just cannot grasp it.

    Grizzlies are slow to reproduce and thus their populations are especially fragile.

    I am sickened and enraged. Why is it that a determined cadre of sadists is intent upon dismantling the world? How I wish I had a magic wand.

  • Wendy Green

    I am so sickened by this news of that poor bear cub caught in a conibear trap!!! What a HORRIFIC painful way to live until death arrives-how ARCHAIC and barbaric is Wyoming to ALLOW this????????where is the HUMANE in HUMAN???? Put an END to trapping-this is 2015 isn’t it??????

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