Grizzly Bears at GWDC
See grizzly bears from as far away as Alaska and as close as Yellowstone National Park. Each bear at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center has its own unique story, but they all have something in common; they came to reside here after becoming nuisance bears or orphaned cubs of a nuisance bear. These bears learn to obtain food from people, damage property in search of food or become aggressive toward people and are usually killed. Instead of being destroyed, the seven bears that reside at the Center were rescued and are ambassadors for their counterparts in the wild.
The bears have a large outdoor habitat that includes many natural features that gives them a comfortable and stimulating environment to roam in. The animal care staff rotates a combination of bears into the habitat throughout the day. Keepers also hide food in the habitat, stock the pond with live trout and rearrange features regularly. The bears are healthy both physically and mentally and exhibit all kinds of natural bear behavior throughout the day making them a delight to watch.
Meet the Bears:
On September 6th 2011, the Center welcomed a new resident bear, Coram a three-year-old grizzly who unfortunately became habituated to human foods and garbage. According to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Region 1, Coram began boldly walking through town and finding non-natural foods from residential areas. He didn’t forget that easy food source. Once he and his family left the den this spring, he headed right into town again. He was trapped and moved for the second time in May. More reports came in about a bear walking up onto people’s porches and getting into dog food. When it turned out that the three year old bear had been trapped in town a third time, wildlife managers had to face the fact that this bear was not going to learn and would have to be removed from the wild. Coram has adapted well and enthusiastically wrestles daily with Grant. Adopt Coram.
Grant arrived at the Discovery Center on September 30th, 2011, along with his brother Roosevelt after both were removed from Yellowstone National Park by Park bear managers. Grant’s mother was euthanized when Park biologists confirmed she was connected to two fatalities that summer. Sadly, Roosevelt passed away from an aggressive form of cancer in 2019. Grant has continued to thrive and is an energetic young adult who enjoys the enrichment of foraging for food and playing in the outdoor habitat with Coram. Adopt Grant.
Nakina and Kobuk (who once resided at the Center) were brother and sister who were actually from a litter of triplets. Their mother and brother were shot and killed by a resident near the community of Delta Junction, Alaska. Nakina came to live at the GWDC in 1998. She will entertain herself searching out hides, fish and bones. Being from the interior part of Alaska, Nakina is about the same size as Yellowstone bears with weights between 450 and 600 pounds. Adopt Nakina.
Sam was placed in captivity as a young cub after his mother disappeared in Alaska. He wandered in to a fishing village where people (young and old) began hand-feeding him, becoming quite the attraction and a dangerous situation. Without a mother to care for him and becoming habituated to human food, he had to be placed in captivity and arrived at the Center in 1996. Being from the coastline of Alaska, he is very large – weighing approximately 1050 pounds. Adopt Sam.
Grizzly Sow #101 lived in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem for 20 years. 101 was the 101st bear to be tagged in the Yellowstone Ecosystem as a six-month-old cub. She raised numerous sets of cubs, teaching them essential lessons needed to survive. That ended in the summer of 2002 when a series of human errors allowed 101 and her two small cubs access to pet food, unsecured garbage and human food just 10 miles from the town of West Yellowstone. Bear 101 and her cubs lived together as a family for the first year. However, as the cubs grew, the Center made arrangements to send the offspring to another facility as additional den space for the two 400-pound yearlings was not available. She now socializes on a daily basis with Spirit, Grant, Roosevelt and Coram. Adopt Sow 101.
In 2002, Spirit became the first Montana Grizzly to be placed at the Center. As a six-year-old, mother of two, Spirit was known by Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists as “Easy” because of her easygoing personality and was often seen roaming the beach or golf course near the community in Whitefish, Montana. She obtained human food and was passing on this behavior to her cubs. Although she never was involved with aggressive tendency toward humans, it was only a matter of time before a dangerous situation became a reality. Spirit was relocated six times, but continued to return to the golf community even after intensive aversive conditioning. After one of her cubs was killed by a car, officials decided to remove the other cub by placing it in captivity at the Denver Zoo, and then to remove Spirit from the wild forever. She actively interacts with Sow 101. Adopt Spirit.