Rural Subdivisions Creep into Bear's Backyards

May, 5 2023



, News

, Sprawl

, Land Use Code

Who is in whose backyard here?! You decide. Recovery of the Brown Bear is an inspiring modern-day success story. But as Grizzly Bears continue to expand in both numbers and range at the same time, so do we. This is creating an escalation in bear-human encounters and conflicts in rural communities. Not surprisingly, the 'conflicts' are primarily human caused, with almost 50% occurring because of poor trash storage - bird feeders being the second most common reason.  While these encounters rarely result in harm to us, they almost always result in the extermination of bears.

As human patterns of growth and development move us further into Black and Brown Bear habitat, it is us and our habits, that need to change. We moved in and we can actively practice conflict prevention measures so both bears and humans can continue to call this special place "home."

Photo: Andrew Erickson at Teton Ranch 10/30/22

Teton Valley Bear Wise is a new citizen's group formed in response to Idaho Fish and Game’s management of the grizzly and her cubs pictured above.  All three were killed last October.

One tragic event last fall led Tetonia resident, Michael Abbott, to meet with neighbors and form a citizen's group, Teton Valley Bearwise. This group of concerned residents was able to lure Dr.Chris Servheen, Grizzly Bear Recovery Expert and President/Board Chair of the Montana Wildlife Federation, to Driggs last week for a packed house presentation. Use the links below for more information on Teton Valley Bearwise, Dr. Servheen's presentation, and more information about the bear population and recovery efforts in our region.

Bearwise email sign up 


Teton Valley New Article

Just how quickly are we spreading into Bear Habitat? 

In Teton County, there are 27 pending and/or recently recorded subdivisions located in the Bear Conflict Overlay. This number includes over 180 new lots on over 1,500 acres. However, bears are not the only animals in the precious ecosystem feeling pressure from human growth moving further into vital habitat areas. 


In 2023, Teton County updated the Natural Resource Overlay, to include other key habitats:

     1. Priority Wetland Habitat, Songbird/Raptor Breeding and Wintering Habitat

     2. Sharp-Tailed Grouse Breeding Habitat

     3. Waterbird Breeding, Migration, Foraging and Wintering Habitat

     4. Big Game Migration Corridors and Seasonal Range


In Teton County, there are 77 pending and/or recently recorded subdivisions located in the Natural Resource Overlay. This number includes over 850 new lots on over 5,600 acres.

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Niki Richards, Executive Director
(208) 354-1707
285 East Little Avenue
PO Box 1164
Driggs, ID 83422



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