Yellowstone Region's Oldest Grizzly Was Euthanized

Bear 168 preyed on calves
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 24, 2021 3:10 PM CST
Grizzly Bear Confirmed as Yellowstone Region's Oldest
This 2020 photo provided by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department shows the worn, mostly toothless jaw of Grizzly 168.   (Zach Turnbull/Wyoming Game and Fish Department)

A 34-year-old grizzly bear that was captured in Wyoming last summer and later euthanized has been confirmed as the oldest on record in the Yellowstone region, the AP reports. “He was born in 1986,” Dan Thompson, a Wyoming Game and Fish biologist tells the Jackson Hole News & Guide. “That’s pretty wild to think about. I think I was in junior high. I know it was the year before [Guns N’ Roses’] Appetite for Destruction came out.” Grizzly bear 168 was captured after he preyed on calves in the Upper Green River Basin area. At 34 years old, he weighed just 170 pounds—a fraction of the 450 pounds he weighed when he was captured at five years old in 1991—and was missing most of his teeth.

Wildlife officials determined the age of the grizzly after he was euthanized in July. When the bear was first captured at three years old, in 1989, the inside of its lip was tattooed with the number 168. The digits assigned to captured bears are sequential, per the News & Guide, and most bears re-captured these days have much higher numbers. As for 168’s fate, Thompson says that relocating the bear “wouldn’t have been the right thing to do.” With just three nubs for canines remaining, it is likely that the animal would have continued seeking easy prey, such as calves. “It was sad that we had to put him down,” Thompson says, “but ethically there was nothing else that could be done.” (More grizzly bear stories.)

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