Grand Teton National Park's 27-year-old famed mother grizzly bear, No. 399, emerged from her winter den with yet another cub — her 23rd known offspring.
That makes her the oldest documented grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to reproduce, according to Frank van Manen, team leader of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team. In addition, 399 has given birth to three known sets of triplets and one set of quadruplets.
Previous records were held by four grizzlies who gave birth at 25 years of age. Based on current data, there’s only a 9% probability that a female grizzly bear in the GYE would reach age 27. For grizzly bear No. 399 to have lived to 27 and give birth is exceptional.
The grizzly bear is so well-known that she has her own Facebook and Twitter accounts.
She was first sighted this spring on May 16 in the north part of the park with a cub sporting a white slash of fur across its chest.
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“Years of concerted conservation efforts have helped bear species thrive through active management and education,” said Chip Jenkins, superintendent of Grand Teton National Park, in a statement. “Grizzly bear No. 399 is an ambassador for her species and visitors travel from all over the world to see her and her cubs, so we must continue to implement the best bear safety practices for bears to thrive in the GYE.”
Living and recreating in bear country requires awareness and actions to keep bears and humans safe. As the grizzly bear population expands, bears continue to disperse across their historical range, but also into more populated areas. All of Teton County is now in occupied grizzly bear habitat.
Park visitors are asked to secure, or properly store, all attractants that could draw a bear into a campsite or developed area. Ensuring bears do not obtain unnatural foods is crucial to bear and human safety. Once a bear becomes conditioned to human food, risks to the bear and humans increase.
If you see a bear:
• Preferably, park in a pull-out away from the road. If there is no pull-out, park on the side of the road, and ensure you are on the shoulder with all four tires to the right of the white stripe.
• Be careful as you leave your vehicle, especially on a blind corner.
• Watch for others walking or exiting their vehicles.
• Allow the bear space. Stay back 100 yards, or 300 feet, from any bear for your safety — it’s the law.
• Secure all attractants to ensure a bear does not obtain a food reward.
• Pay attention to and comply with what park staff are asking you to do and be ready to move quickly.
If you are exploring the backcountry:
• Be alert and aware of your surroundings.
• Make noise, especially in areas with limited visibility or where sound is muffled.
• Carry bear spray, know how to use it, and keep it readily accessible.
• Hike in groups of three or more people.
• Do not run. Back away slowly if you encounter a bear.
During Your Visit:
• Keep a clean camp. Store all attractants, including coolers, cooking gear and pet food inside a bear-resistant storage locker or a hard-sided vehicle with the doors locked and windows up. Properly store garbage until you can deposit it into a bear-resistant dumpster.
• Never abandon your picnic table or backpack. Make sure someone stays with your food.
• If you want a closer look at a bear, use a spotting scope, binoculars or a telephoto lens.
• Respect all wildlife closure areas. You can view all park closures at go.nps.gov/tetonclosures.