Why Do Grizzly Bears Hunt Livestock?


In the movies and on TV, grizzly bears are shown catching fish out of rivers or stealing the occasional picnic basket. You hear about grizzly attacks on humans, but can assume that most of those are provoked or involve bear cubs and a mama bear. You might even know that they are known to feast on the flesh of animals. Most likely you were thinking of smaller animals, though. Not many people, aside from the ranchers whose cattle is being hunted, know that grizzly bears can attack and kill a cow.

This is actually a huge problem when livestock are raised in highly populated grizzly bear areas. When ranchers continually lose cattle to grizzly bears it not only causes them a loss in revenue, it makes them very angry. An angry rancher is likely to take revenge on any and all grizzly bears he or she might come across. For this reason, some states have compensation programs that will reimburse the rancher if it can be proven that the cow was killed by a grizzly.

Grizzly bears have been on the endangered species list for 40 years, aside from a brief period in 2007. This year the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a draft rule to remove them from that list. This means that soon these ranchers will be allowed to carry out their revenge. Let’s hope they don’t get carried away or the grizzlies will quickly find themselves back on that list.


There’s a reason though, as to why the bears have been more visible lately. Which could possibly tie in with the cattle killings. Due to climate changes, two of the grizzly bears’ favorite food sources have become increasingly hard to find; whitebark pine nuts and cutthroat trout. When food becomes scarce any animal would be forced to venture out to find a replacement. Let’s not take it out on the hungry grizzly bears!

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Julie Antonson

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