CODY, Wyo. - One of the most photographed grizzlies in the Yellowstone National Park region was struck and killed by a National Park Service vehicle.
The accident occurred about 1 a.m. Monday as the 19-year-old bear, known as Bear No. 104, was crossing a bridge over the North Fork of the Shoshone River near Pahaska Tepee.
The driver was not injured, said Wyoming Game and Fish spokesman Dennie Hammer.
Mark Bruscino, grizzly bear conflict biologist, said the bear had one yearling cub with her when she died.
Hammer said the yearling has a good chance of surviving on its own.
Bear 104 had a reputation among area wildlife enthusiasts as being a "good" bear. She was trapped and moved several times during her lifetime because she was too comfortable around people.
Her movement patterns often included the Middle Fork and Upper North Fork of the Shoshone River in the area around the East Entrance of Yellowstone Park.
She was first trapped as a research bear in 1984 when she was 2. At age 4 she produced a litter of two cubs.
At age 7 she had triplets and at age 10 she again produced twins, one of which was often observed as being notably larger than the other. The smaller cub also died in a vehicle collision in 1994.
Later in 1994, 104's radio collar failed, presumably due to dead batteries.
No confirmed sightings of 104 were made after 1994.
"Most of us assumed she had died, so it was quite a surprise when we saw the dead bear's ear-tags," Bruscino said.
Bruscino plans to use 104 for education purposes. Ideas include displaying her at the Shoshone National Forest headquarters lobby or at the Buffalo Bill Natural History Museum.
"Given the popularity of No. 104, I think it's only right that we keep her in the Cody community," he said.
Hammer said no definite plans have been made.
Separately, a 3-year old, male grizzly bear was trapped and relocated to the Washakie Wilderness of the Shoshone Forest on Saturday.
According to Bruscino, the relocation was to prevent the young bear from getting into a human-bear conflict. Like 104, the sub-adult male was spending a great deal of time along a major highway, providing great opportunities for wildlife watching and photography.
But it was decided that the bear had to be moved because people were approaching too closely and throwing apples to the bear, Bruscino said.
"The North Fork is a great place to observe bears in the spring," Bruscino said.
People can be cited and fined for approaching wildlife too closely or feeding wildlife.