Tales of Two Grizzlys

This morning Scott McMillion posted a link to a story in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, “The Life and Times of Grizzly Bear 179.”  Here’s how Scott described the story: Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 9.19.17 AM “The story of bear 179, who has lived a long and productive life. As a yearling, she watched her mother tear into Joe Heimer and Sonja Crowley, who were hunting elk near Gardiner. I wrote about that attack in Mark of the Grizzly. But 179 never repeated that kind of behavior and raised 11 cubs to maturity.”

The Tribune Eagle story chronicles the life of 179 from the time wildlife biologists first tagged her in 1990 until the last time she was captured in 2012.  Although 24 is old for a grizzly sow, she is still roaming free in Yellowstone Park as far as anybody knows.

Grizzly Bear 179 has been captured eight times helping wildlife managers understand how her species survives. The Tribune Eagle story recounts several of her captures and encounters with human beings.

Just as the story reminded Scott McMillian of his book, Mark of the Grizzly, which is a collection of terrifying tales of people who got too close to the big bears, I was reminded of Ernest Thompson Seton’s Biography of a Grizzly. Seton’s book recounts the life of Wahb, a bear that roamed between the Meeteesee region of Wyoming and Yellowstone Park.

Seton was a universally know author a hundred years ago. Naturalists roundly criticize Seton for his habit of attributing human characteristics to animals, but people still remember their grade school teachers and parents reading his animal stories to them. Seton made Wahb so famous that in 1915 the New York Times published the news that he had been shot to death.

I’ve blogged several stories about Wahb:

Watching Bears Fight at a Dump — Ernest Thompson Seton, 1896

An excerpt for Seton’s famous story, “Johnny Bear,” in which a crippled black bear cub watches his mother battle Wahb to protect her son.


Ernest Thomson Seton Retells the Story of a Bear Fight — Ernest Thompson Seton, 1896

An excerpt from Biography of a Grizzly that tells the story of the battle at a garbage dump from Wahb’s perspective.


Watching a Giant Grizzley — Grace Gallatin Seton, 1896.

Seton’s wife describes finding her husband watching bears frolic and fight at the dump.


— You can find similar stories by clicking on “Bears” under the Categories button.

— The illustration is a detail from a drawing by Seton in Biography of a Grizzly.

— You can read a condensed version of Seton’s “Johnny Bear” in my book, Adventures in Yellowstone.

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