Yellowstone’s oldest known grizzly bear was 34 years old and had just THREE teeth when it was euthanized for preying on cattle
- The oldest known grizzly bear in Yellowstone has been identified as age 34
- Scientists were able to determine the bear’s age after it was euthanized
- Grizzly 168 had a tattoo marking on its lip from when it was born in 1989
- It was put down after officials determined it was killing calves in the area
- The previous oldest known grizzly was a 27-year-old female that has since died
A 34-year-old grizzly bear captured in southwestern Wyoming has been confirmed as the oldest on record in the Yellowstone region, Wyoming wildlife officials said.
Grizzly bear 168 was captured last summer after it preyed on calves in the Upper Green River Basin area.
Biologists learned of the bear’s longevity after recently euthanizing the bruin for slaughtering the juvenile cows.
The male had just a few teeth left and weighed 170 pounds (77 kilograms), just a fraction of the 450 pounds (204 kilograms) the bear weighed as a 5-year-old when he was captured in the Shoshone National Forest in August 1991.
The Yellowstone region includes parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho and although there are hundreds in the area, grizzly 168 is the oldest marked by scientists.
A 34-year-old grizzly bear captured in southwestern Wyoming has been confirmed as the oldest on record in the Yellowstone region. When 168 was captured, it was down to three nubs for canines and no other teeth, making it likely the bear would continue to seek easy prey, such as calves.
Scientists found a tattoo on the bear’s lip that read ‘168 and was from researchers who tagged the beast in 1989.
The previously oldest known grizzly, was bear 399 – a female that lived to the age of 27.
Because of grizzly 168’s unique teeth, biologists knew they had captured the culprit behind a number of calf killings.
‘You´ll skin them and there´s like terrible bruising, but there´s no real punctures,’ Dan Thompson, a biologist with Wyoming Game and Fish told the Jackson Hole News & Guide, regarding markings found on dead calves.
The Yellowstone region includes parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho and although there are hundreds in the area, grizzly 168 is the oldest marked by scientists. (stock photo)
‘They have so much strength in their jaws they can kill an animal by basically gumming it.’
When 168 was captured, it was down to three nubs for canines and no other teeth, making it likely the bear would continue to seek easy prey, such as calves, Thompson said.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made the call to euthanize the bear last July.
Relocating the animal, even though he had avoided known conflict for decades, ‘wouldn’t have been the right thing to do,’ Thompson said.
‘It was sad that we had to put him down,’ Thompson said, ‘but ethically there was nothing else that could be done.’
The bear had first been captured as a 3-year-old in 1989 when the inside of its lip was tattooed with the number 168.
The bear also was captured north of Dubois in May 1996 and dropped its radio collar the next year.
While the bear’s whereabouts in the following years is not known, DNA testing indicates grizzly 168 sired a three-cub litter in 2005 or 2006, Thompson said.
There’s a ‘good potential’ that he sired another litter in 2009, when he would have been 23.
‘It´s not 100%, but based on the genetic evidence we have, there´s a likelihood that he bred as a 31-year-old male,’ Thompson said.
Grizzly 168 has outlived all females documented within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem by four years, and female grizzly bears tend to live longer, officials said.
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