The 399/Deidre Bainbridge Wildlife Fund
Who is 399?
The 26-year-old mother grizzly bear known as 399 lives in Grand Teton National Park with her four cubs. She has birthed seventeen cubs. Early on, she learned to keep her family safe from male grizzlies by staying close to park roads, to the delight of millions of park visitors. Grizzly 399 has endeared herself to everyone who has seen her or read about her. She has become the Matron of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
Grizzlies and other bears are under pressure from increasing development in the western United States. We are not educated in how to stay safe from bears when hiking or camping. We also attract bears by giving them food. Such ignorance leads to human-bear conflicts which almost always result in the euthanizing of the bear by authorities. Six were euthanized in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in 2021.
Who is Deidre?
Deidre Bainbridge, a Jackson Hole environmental activist and attorney, was a champion for all wildlife, but especially for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear. She was involved in many efforts over her too short a lifetime to help save this magnificent animal from being destroyed by advancing civilization. Deidre was an inspirational and powerful voice for these creatures she so loved, respected, and enjoyed.
The grizzly is protected under the Endangered Species Act, but there have been ongoing efforts by governmental agencies, ranchers, hunters, and others to reduce its numbers through trophy hunting and specific animal destruction, as well as removal and alteration of its habitat, territory, and food sources. Deidre believed the bear had a right to live in its natural environment, as it had for tens of thousands of years with Native Americans, and not be trapped or hunted to extinction. She thought grizzly bears could co-exist with mankind if mankind would learn and understand the nature and practices of the bear. It now seems obvious that we should never feed bears, leave our trash cans unlocked, hike in bear territory alone, or try to take close-up photos of a bear and her cubs. And, of course, it is always wise to carry bear spray when hiking. But Deidre found that most people did not seem to understand such basic rules about co-existing with bears, so she made it her goal to protect the grizzly and other bears by engaging in a lifetime of educational and activist projects.
Why Wildlife Education?
Wildlife education of the public is critical so that our growing population can learn to live peaceably with our surrounding wildlife friends. Even in a place completely intertwined with nature like the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, bears and humans often aren't able to co-exist due to food storage challenges, with the bears often paying the price of removal, relocation or ultimately, euthanasia. The Tetons and Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are aptly compared to the African Serengeti, hosting some of the last intact, wild populations of large mammals in North America. Bears, mountain lions, wolves, elk, antelope, bison, moose, deer, and other large, native creatures require the robust summer and winter ranges, calving areas and migration routes that characterize this outstanding Greater Yellowstone landscape… but those critical areas are rapidly diminishing. Can you imagine a future where the only place our grandchildren can witness a grizzly bear is in a painting in a museum? Just as Native Americans learned to live with tens of thousands of grizzlies, we should be learning to adapt to living with a few thousand. Numerous common sense precautions can be taken by the public so that wildlife of any species can be viewed and experienced responsibly and in a fashion that ensures safety for the animals and humans. This Project intends to highlight and communicate these common-sense actions and to concurrently raise funds to make grants to not-for-profit organizations, empowering them to present new and innovative ways to communicate the message of protection for wildlife and responsible coexistence.
What is the Education Fund?
Working with our attorneys, we have formed a 501(c)(3) entity in Wyoming named the Deidre Bainbridge Wildlife Fund. It will manage all aspects of the Grizzly 399 Project, including Website development and maintenance, Project promotion, funds solicitation and collection, and disbursements for Project expenses and Wildlife Education grants.
Our funding plan is to raise $1 million to fund the sculpture and The Education Fund for sorely needed Wildlife Education grants to various not-for-profit entities and to create the sculpture. These grants will be for innovative programs to educate people about how to live peaceably with all wild creatures, especially grizzlies. Of the several promotional plans we offer, the Twenty Claw Club plans to raise $20 thousand from each of twenty donors. However, our plan to use social media, the website, and wildlife warrior activists is intended to reach thousands of wildlife fans across America.
The Education Fund Grants Plan
We plan to fund numerous grants to not-for-profit, wildlife education and conservation-focused organizations to educate the public about how to live responsibly and peaceably with our wildlife friends.
These grants will be based on wildlife education project proposals accepted by the Friends of 399 Committee, appointed by the Deidre Bainbridge Wildlife Fund. The Committee invites not-for-profit organizations who focus on wildlife in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to submit proposals for grants.
The specific criteria for proposal submission, including maximum grant funding available, will be established in the Fall of 2022 on this website by the Friends of 399 Committee. Proposals must focus on wildlife education, utilizing innovative approaches to communication, especially to children and young adults.
Who We Are
Tim Tennyson: President.
Terri Thomas: Secretary.
Ray Thomas: Treasurer.
The above officers and co-founders are not financially compensated and are engaged in this project because of their love for Deidre and wildlife.