A well known and controversial Yellowstone grizzly bear thought killed by a hunter has reappeared in the park with a new cub.
A grizzly bear known as No. 399 along with a new cub has appeared in Yellowstone National Park this spring for the first time after it was thought she was killed by a hunter. The popular bear is not without controversy as she and her cubs once mauled a hiker in the famous park in 2007, but was sparred being lethally destroyed after a plea by the hiker and evidence ruled that the mother was acting in a ‘natural way.’
No. 399 has been arguably better known in recent years than ‘Scarface’, one of the park’s most legendary bears. Even famous Jackson Hole nature photographer Thomas D. Mangelsen, who spent two years compiling images of 399 and her extended family into a large portfolio, was overjoyed at the bears appearance saying, “Every year she’s still with us is a miracle. This could be the last cub she ever has because she’s pretty old in bear years, most bears don’t reach that age.”
It’s said that more than half of the old sow’s descendants have already passed away from run-ins with people or other bears. While No.399 had one infamous run-in with a hiker, the big bear and her cubs have shown no other aggression towards people even near huge crowds gathered to see ‘bear jams’ along the highway.
Dan Wenk, superintendent of Yellowstone, supports delisting grizzlies as endangered, but he still believes that transboundary animals like 399 who spends much of her year in Grand Teton National Park should be protected because of her beloved status.
While the powers-that-be argue over whether or not to allow the hunting of these magnificent creatures they should be reminded that if they do they can’t expect every hunter to know if they are taking aim at No.399, Scarface, or some other famous bruin.
To some, it’s an all-or-nothing argument and while hunters may groan and grumble about not getting to hunt these big game animals, if the law says they can’t- they won’t, and sportsmen everywhere will be the first to make the call if they see an illegal hunt happen.
Photographs via National Geographic