CODY, Wyo. - More and more residential areas in the Rocky Mountains are encroaching on the grizzly bear’s natural habitat. This close proximity means that human-bear interaction is happening much more frequently.

Dusty Lasseter is the Bear Wise Coordinator for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in Cody. He says that an incident in May near Wapiti resulted in the death of a fourteen-year-old bear - the third bear to be put down this spring.

“He had killed some chickens," Lasseter reports, "and when we caught him this spring he was in really poor physical condition.”

But Lasseter points out that some good will come out of a negative situation.

“He was just a really good specimen, and the Draper [Museum of Natural History in Cody] had been asking us for some bears to use for educational purposes," he says. "I thought this bear was a perfect candidate for that.”

And at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, technicians and museum staff will give the bear a new life - and purpose.

Nathan Doerr is the Curator of the Draper Museum of Natural History at the Center of the West. He says the donation of the bear brings a unique educational opportunity.

“Draper staff and an incredible team of volunteers, we get together, and we dissect the specimen, we de-articulate it, and we clean the bones," he explains.

Then when the process is complete, which could take a year or more, Doerr says museum patrons will have multiple opportunities to learn from the bear’s articulated skeleton.

“Each bone is individually labeled, cataloged and stored for, whether it be scientific research, educational programming, or, in this case, exhibit.”

But Doerr notes that the ultimate goal for this experience is inspiration.

“We hope to ignite the curiosity in the visitors, get them to want to go out and explore more, and really start to dive into, if you will, the natural wonders of not just the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and not just the American West, but really their own backyards as well.”


Recommended for you