New Alliance COEXISTENCE REPORT focuses on how humans and wildlife can better share space.
Human-wildlife coexistence is at the core of the ecosystem, economy, and social dynamics of Teton County. To make informed decisions concerning human-wildlife coexistence, it is important to establish metrics to track our challenges, successes, and opportunities over time. Although many organizations collect data on singular aspects of human-wildlife coexistence, our community lacks a centralized resource to holistically evaluate community-level coexistence.
The Teton County Wildlife Coexistence Monitoring Report addresses this gap by compiling 20 metrics of human-wildlife coexistence. Metrics were determined through engagement of 40+ stakeholders, including land-mangers, elected officials, conservation professionals, scientists, and long-time residents, among others.
Chapter 1 presents metrics related to Land Use, including Habitat Protection and Threats and Landscape Permeability. Chapter 2 focused on Human-Wildlife Interactions from Bear Feeding/Conflict and Recreation. Finally, Chapter 3 highlights the Human Dimensions of Coexistence, evaluating Strategies, Monitoring, and Funding as well as Stakeholder Perspectives.
This report is intended to inform and advance ecosystem stewardship, monitoring, and conservation action in Teton County. The 20 metrics presented here represent a starting point for monitoring and stewarding the incredible natural capital of this area. By establishing this baseline, future monitoring, research, dialogue and action can be targeted toward root challenges, evolving opportunities, and a united community vision of wildlife-human coexistence in Teton County.
Coexistence Example #1: Are we ready to coexist with grizzly bears?
The Grizzly bear population has been growing significantly since they were listed as threatened on the Endangered Species List in 1975. At that time there were just over a hundred grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) — today there are estimated to be 700-1000. It looks likely that they will be delisted by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in the coming year. Are we ready to coexist with grizzlies..? We already are – how can we ensure humans and grizzlies stay safe?
Video: Linda Hanlon
Edit: A previous edition of this post referenced the bear in the video as a grizzly bear. Thanks to the perceptive community members who reached out to us to let us know. Note: the bear in the video does not have a hump or an angled face, both of which are characteristics of grizzly bears.
Last week a young bear wandered through south Jackson in broad daylight (see video). We are enthused that there were no reports of the bear getting human food or having a conflict with a human. We know these amazing animals are living amongst us – how can we peacefully share space with cinnamon black bears like the one above and grizzlies..?
This is a critical question for our community. And here is the data, published in our coexistence report, for us to see how we are doing and for us to set goals and track progress. The summer of 2021 was a big one for grizzly conflict (61 conflicts in Teton County). A conflict is defined by Wyoming Game and Fish Department as: “interactions between grizzly bears, people and their property, resulting in damage to pets, livestock or bees, non-natural food rewards, animal caused human injury or death, and human caused injury or death to an animal other than legal hunting or a management action.” Last summer, the number of conflicts with grizzlies dropped to only 4. How many conflicts will humans and grizzlies have this summer? What can we do to keep this number low?
Locally there is a lot you can do to better coexist with bears and other wildlife:
Generally a ‘fed bear is a dead bear’ so we want to ensure that bears do not have access to any human derived food sources. This is the number one thing we can do to keep bears and ourselves safe, and the reason the county and town just adopted new bear regulations (adopted county-wide and in the Bear Conflict Zone at the Town’s perimeter).
- Trash containers and dumpsters anywhere in Teton County are required to be Bear-Resistant (IGBC approved, inside of the Town of Jackson). Get a Bear-Resistant trash can here.
- Feeding of wildlife is prohibited and bird feeders need to be unavailable to wildlife at all times of year.
- All attractants must be unavailable to wildlife (livestock feed, apiaries, chicken coops, compost, etc.). A resource for using electric fencing for controlling bears or other predators is here.
- Ornamental fruit bearing trees and shrubs, like crabapples, are prohibited. Existing ornamental, non-native fruit trees shall be managed by harvesting ripe and fallen fruit or fencing to prevent wildlife access. A local company, Farmstead Cider, is producing cider from local crab apples, and will assist community members by harvesting their crabapples.
The Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance has been working for over 40 years to help humans coexist with our wild neighbors. Please share your opinions and ideas concerning grizzlies or other wildlife or conservation issue with Conservation Director Kevin Krasnow at Kevin@jhalliance.org
Thank you for your partnership in conserving the wildlife, wild places, and community character of Jackson Hole!