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What Is the Oldest Grizzly Bear in Yellowstone Ever Recorded?

In the southwest of Wyoming, scientists found one of the oldest grizzly bears ever – aged 34 years old. They easily spotted him through a distinct mark on his lip that was made by biologists back in 1989. Due to the fact that most of the animals in the Yellowstone region are completely unmarked by scientists, there is no evidence that there are other older grizzly bears than this one. In this post, we learn more about the oldest grizzly bear in Yellowstone.

Background of the Bear

According to past records, researchers have discovered that Grizzly 168 was initially captured when he was around three years old. This was also the year when biologists gave him his distinctive tattoo and then later captured him again in 1996 at Fremont County, Wyoming.

After he lost his radio collar during the next year, scientists were unable to really determine what Grizzly 168 was up to. However, some DNA tests have indicated that he probably fathered 3 kids later in the mid-2000s. The tests also show that, when he was, 23 he likely had more kids until the number increased when he was 31 years old.

One of the well-known grizzly bears in the Yellowstone region is the bear 399, a 24-year-old grizzly female who later became the oldest known grizzly bear mom at 27 years old. Nonetheless, Grizzly 168 was a male who had only three teeth left – an indicator of old age after first being caught.

His teeth were severely grounded, a clear reason why he mainly hunted for easy prey like calves. The grizzly was also found to be underweight, weighing just 77 kilograms (170 pounds) which is significantly low for a grizzly bear.

The Bear’s Health

Yellowstone scientists normally consider a bear’s physical health based on a 1 to 5 scale, with 1 being in the worst condition and 5 being in the best. When the Grizzly 168 was first captured, he was rated a zero mainly due to his emaciated condition. This later forced the Fish and Wildlife Service biologists to make the call to put him out of his misery instead of transporting him to an isolated part of Yellowstone.

Dan Thompson, a biologist with Wyoming Game and Fish, told the Jackson Hole News and Guide that, ”It was sad that we had to euthanize him, but ethically nothing else could have been done.”

The Miracle of Grizzly 168’s Long Life

With only 700 grizzlies left in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, bears are still facing threats, including poaching and habitat degradation. Harsh climatic changes have also played a major role in the bears’ nutrition and winter hibernation, which makes Grizzly’s 168 long life a near miracle.

Hope for Yellowstone’s Grizzlies

Thanks to the federal protection given to grizzlies in the 1970s, their numbers have constantly increased despite the numerous health risks. For example, in the Yellowstone region, the grizzly’s population increased to 100 more in the 1970s. Hopefully, there is a bright future for Grizzly 168’s kids.

Visit Yellowstone Bear World

During your vacation to the Grand Teton National Park or Yellowstone National Park region, make sure to visit the Yellowstone Bear World, a drive-thru wildlife viewing park. For an exciting opportunity to be surrounded by the free-roaming wildlife of North America, feel free to call us at (208) 359-9688.



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