A recent study by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team finds that 10 of the 16 grizzly bears that have died so far this summer in Yellowstone National Park have died of natural causes. That’s more than in previous years, when three-quarters of bear deaths have been due to run-ins with people.
“We’ve seen more natural mortality this year,” team leader Mark Haroldson told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. “It is something that we haven’t seen before.”
According to the team, most of these deaths have been new cubs. One baby was killed by another grizzly, and three other cubs died after their mothers were killed by another bear.
“More deaths show there’s more of a need for good habitat protections around Yellowstone so bears can spread out,” said Hannah Stauts of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.
When the grizzly bear was put on the endangered species list in 1975, there were only 150 bears lumbering around Yellowstone. That number had grown to 600 in 2010. Experts believe that the increase in bear population means more run-ins with people, as well as other bears. Bears likely are in greater conflict among themselves as food and resources must be stretched further.
Six other bears have died this summer due to interactions with humans.