Female grizzly captured, collared in northeast Washington

METALINE FALLS, Wash. — Fish & Wildlife biologists captured and fitted a radio collar on a grizzly bear to better understand how to help the species recover.

The bear was a female with cubs — a first for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) — found roaming near Metaline Falls with her young. Biologists have caught and fitted collars on male grizzlies, but this scenario is a first.

Fish & Wildlife says watching how these bears roam might better help them recover the endangered species.

According to WDFW, biologists captured the mama bear while she was roaming with her young. They fitted the collar and did a quick health check before leaving, and the bear’s cubs quickly returned to join her while she woke up.

The family was spotted on a game camera inside the Selkirk Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone, located in a remote part of the Selkirk mountains in northeast Washington.

“A group of bears – a mother and three cubs – were photographed on another occasion on a game camera in the same area three to four weeks prior to the capture,” said Wayne Kasworm, grizzly bear biologist with Fish & Wildlife Service. “The natal collar – the white ring around the neck – of one of the cubs leads us to believe this is the same family of bears.”

Fortunately, the bears in that recovery zone seem to be doing exactly that; the grizzly population is growing roughly 2.9% every year.

“Grizzly bears once occupied much of the Cascade and Selkirk Ranges, but their numbers were severely reduced as a result of persecution by early settlers and habitat degradation. Grizzly bear recovery started in 1981 and it took 40 years to confirm the first known female in Washington, that’s pretty remarkable,” said WDFW bear and cougar biologist Rich Beausoleil. “Wayne and his team have been working hard and deserve a lot of credit, they’ve been great partners.”

Biologists captured male grizzlies in 1985, 2016 and 2018.