Who is Grizzly Bear #610?

Grizzly Bear #610 of Grand Teton National Park began her life in the shadow of her already beloved mother, #399. Between 2006 and 2008, she was merely referred to as, “one of the cubs.” Having achieved enormous adoration from Jackson Hole, Wyoming and well beyond, the inevitable time came for #399 to ween off her cubs and let them go live on their own.

The male of the group, #587, was last seen living well in the Gros Ventre Mountains, east of Jackson Hole. #615 and #610 were the two females working together to aid in their survival that following summer and fall. #615 however was shot that fall by a hunter, leaving #610 on her own. That following spring, #610 was seen frequenting many of the same areas her mother had taught her. Still too young to mate, sightings were sporadic then and the next year, but the two bright yellow ear tags along with following the same patterns her mother had brought her along were a sure bet of her status. She was growing into a beautiful, slightly blonde grizzly bear.

In 2011, both her and her mother emerged with brand new cubs. #399 was the established, well-tested mother. It was expected that she would raise her three new cubs without fail. #610 on the other hand was a first time mother. It was unclear how she would fare with her first two cubs. Things only got worse when, on two separate occasions, she got completely separated from her cubs, one of those instances for as long as 24 hours. As a result, many began to doubt #610’s abilities as a mother. Meanwhile, #399’s three new cubs were all looking healthy and happy, avoiding conflict (to the best of our knowledge) without effort.

As spring transitioned to summer, the two grizzly mothers began to frequent many of the same areas, thanks to #610 putting her mother’s training into practice. Every photographer following the bears was dreaming to be able to witness the chance encounter of #399 and #610 reuniting. Would it be friendly? Would there be aggression? No one knew, but everyone was hoping for it.

On one particular morning, panic gripped many of the bear watchers. #399 came out with only two cubs. Everyone feared the worst: an unfortunate encounter with a boar had taken the life of one of the cubs with #399 barely able to escape with the other two. However, shortly thereafter, #610 surprised everyone when she had an extra cub following her. The chance encounter had actually happened, but no one was awake to see it. Overnight, both bears had reunited in some way. It’s anyone’s guess how or why, but one way or another, one of the cubs wound up with #610, leaving her with three cubs and #399 down to two.

The rest of the summer went as expected with the entire family looking very healthy and capable. In the fall, however, #610 became the center of controversy as she brought her cubs down to the Moose-Wilson Road to feed on the buffet of berries along the roadside. This prompted the park to close down the road, much to the dismay of her fans and followers. Once it was sure she had left the area, the road reopened.

Months later, late in the fall, both she and her mother were found within roughly 1,000 yards of each other, each feeding on their own respective carcasses. I wrote up a more detailed account of the encounter here, but in summary, this was not as pleasant of an encounter as surmised from the previous “cub swap,” as it came to be known. #399 was feeding on a carcass with her cubs, and roughly 1,000 yards away #610 was feeding on her own with her cubs. #610 must have known her mother had a better carcass and brought her cubs over to try to get a bit of the meal. #399 refused at first, but eventually gave way and brought her cubs to the carcass that #610 had been feeding on, who was now gorging on her new carcass that #399 left. It did not last long though. #399 took one look at the carcass that #610 left behind and charged back to her in a full sprint. #610’s cubs saw her coming and immediately fled, expecting the worst. Within seconds, the two bears were engrossed in a brutal fight, claws and paws swinging at each other. Eventually, #399 emerged the victor, reminding her daughter that though she may be old, she is still very healthy. #610 then went her own way and both bears were seen heading in to hibernate much later in the year than normal, but very well fed.

Both bears emerged that following spring with their yearling cubs and expectations were high. Those expectations quickly took a dive, however, when #399 became separated from her cubs. Many saw a scar on the cub nicknamed, Ash, implying a conflict with a boar. Many speculate that in her old age, then at 16, she simply was not feeling as if she could successfully raise the cubs. Regardless, her remaining two cubs were sent off separately on their own. Meanwhile, with two separations the previous spring, it was expected that #610 would stumble yet again. Fortunately, she managed to prove to everyone that she is a very responsible mother, keeping her cubs close at all times and most importantly, keeping them out of danger. She persisted the rest of the season without incident. Ash and Brownie, #399’s two orphaned cubs, were seen closer to the fall reunited on Moose-Wilson Road, the very road that #610 was seen on yet again, prompting another fall closure of the road. Only weeks after the two orphaned cubs had reunited, Brownie had been hit by a car and killed. As of this writing, Ash was never seen again, though unconfirmed reports implied she had made her way into the southern Tetons.

Grizzly Bear #610 went in to den that year well fed with her cubs having the same appearance. She emerged once again in the spring of 2013, her final spring with her three cubs. All four bears were looking as healthy and as happy as ever! All seemed like smooth sailing until a boar showed up at Oxbow Bend, where she was spending lots of time while waiting for more snow to melt. There was a brief chase and a slight separation, but #610 had learned her lesson. She guided her cubs to safety and thus far, was able to avoid unnecessary confrontation.

She is now expected to send off her three cubs within weeks. When is anyone’s guess, but everyone is hoping for a location where it can be witnessed, just as it was with #399 five years prior. Do not expect any of these cubs to stick around like she did though. With all three of them being male, their instincts will bring them to new destinations where they will hopefully be able to reestablish new territory with minimal controversy and aggression.

Thus far, that is the story of Grizzly Bear #610 of Grand Teton National Park. She has learned from her mistakes and has proven to be an incredibly capable mother. She is sure to follow in her mother’s footsteps (literally) to carry on the family legacy, though as we have seen, anything can happen.

To see more of my Grizzly Bear #610 images, check out my Grizzly Bear #399 and Family Gallery here.

No Comments

  1. Cedar Creek Sid

    As a follower of 610 and 399 I thank you for a story well told. I am sure it will bring joy to many people.

  2. Cedar Creek Sid

    As a follower of 610 and 399 I thank you for a story well told. I am sure it will bring joy to many people.

  3. Cedar Creek Sid

    As a follower of 610 and 399 I thank you for a story well told. I am sure it will bring joy to many people.

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