Each year in Jackson Hole locals and visitors alike anxiously await the return of the valley’s native grizzly bears from their winter hibernation. On any given sunny day, spectators flock to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks eager to catch a glimpse of these local celebrities.
And celebrities they are. Fondly identified by their tag numbers issued by Park rangers to help monitor the animals’ behaviors, many of the more social bears that frequent the lower parts of the valley have amassed a considerable following.
With spring finally making an appearance across the Greater Yellowstone area after a record snow year, many bears have been spotted throughout the region. Most will remain at the base of the valley until snowfields in the mountain begin to recede.
Last month, Bear 399, a well-known 23-year old sow, and her two cubs, both two-years old, made quite a debut. As though to show off for onlookers, momma bear didn’t shy away from engaging her two youngsters.
As the Jackson Hole News & Guide reports, the appearance provide a show for those lucky onlookers there to witness it—including renown local wildlife photographer, Tom Mangelsen, who snapped the photo above.
The first reported grizzly siting in Jackson Hole this season occurred in mid-March, and since then bears have been spotted around the region with growing regularity. Denise Germann, a Park spokesperson, says this is “busy season” as the local bear population moves searches for food in the lower parts of the valley after leaving their winter dens.
“We are starting to see more bears out and active and visible,” Germann says, which, she adds, “is just the beginning.”
Jackson Hole and the Greater Yellowstone Region boast one of the most diverse eco-systems in the world. Indeed, the area’s native wildlife is part of the appeal that draws visitors from around the globe. As the reemergence of the area’s grizzly bears reminds, this is truly one of the last wild places on earth.
It’s important that individuals keep that in mind, particularly in the backcountry. Park rangers encourage hikers and recreationists to be “Bear Aware,” carry pepper spray and always give wildlife their space. After all, around here, we are visitors in their homes.