Photo: Yellowstone National Park, NPS
When you hear the name “Scarface,” you might think of the violent 1983 film starring Al Pacino. However, when we talk about “Scarface,” we are referring to a 25-year old male grizzly who called Yellowstone National Park his home. 'GB 211 was born 1990, and first captured and radio collared at age 3, the victim of a non-target management capture on Chittenden Road, near Mount Washburn. Through his life, 211 would be captured an additional 16 times, extremely uncommon for a grizzly in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). GB 211 occupied a lifetime range approximately 1500 km2, and occasionally traveled even further to sections of the park you would least expect to find him. The average home range size for a male grizzly in Yellowstone is 874 km2.
‘Scarface’ did not always have such prominent scars and markings. It wasn’t until around 2000 that researchers with the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST) and Yellowstone Bear Management (YBM), first noted his scars. Scars are typically found around the head and neck region of male bears; this is where they generally bite one another while they fight.
When GB 211 was in his prime, he was approximately 600lbs, which is on the larger end of the weight spectrum for Yellowstone grizzlies. The heaviest recorded adult male grizzly in YNP was 715lb. For an adult female, the heaviest recorded was 436lbs. The average weight for male bears in YNP is 413lbs; for females, it is 269lbs.
While ‘Scarface’ wasn’t the oldest bear documented in Yellowstone, he reached the ripe age of 25-years old. The oldest documented bear in Yellowstone was 31-years old. The last time ‘Scarface’ was captured was Antelope Creek in Yellowstone on August 31, 2015; he weighed on 338 lbs., nearly half of what he weighed during his prime. GB 211 exhibited signs typically consistent with deteriorating health.
Photo: Eric Johnston (left, center) Yellowstone National Park, NPS (far right)
On November 18, 2015 at approximately 6:20 pm, ‘Scarface’ was unfortunately the victim of a hunting related “self-defense” kill or what US Fish and Wildlife calls “DLP” defense of life or property. Upon the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) release, we learned that based on the evidence gathered, there was not enough evidence for US Fish and Wildlife to press charges against the hunter, and that the evidence recovered was consistent with the statement he provided.
Photo: Neal Herbert, NPS
Instead of focusing on how GB 211 lost his life, we should rather reflect on the tremendous amount of data this bear contributed in grizzly bear research, and how this knowledge and information can better help us understand the species going into the future.
For those of us who had the opportunity and ability to view and observe GB 211 ‘Scarface’ in his natural Yellowstone habitat, cherish those memories. Do not forget your experiences. Be a voice for grizzly bear conservation into the future.
(1.) Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Facts, www.nps.gov/yell/learn/yellowstone-grizzly-bear-facts.htm
(2.) The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, https://www.usgs.gov/science/interagency-grizzly-bear-study-team?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects
(3.) Billings Gazette, “FWP confirms grizzly killed near Yellowstone was well-known male No. 211, Scarface” by Brett French
Tyler Brasington is a native born and raised Pennsylvanian, yet proud current Wisconsin resident. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a B.S. in Environmental Science. Currently, Tyler is pursuing his masters in Natural Resources with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He has worked in Yellowstone National Park under the guidance and supervision of Dr. George Clokey and Dr. Jim Halfpenny.
Disclaimer: The information and views expressed on this page do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Interior, US Geological Survey, National Park Service or the United States Government.
The Greater Yellowstone Grizzly Project
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