I recently was wondering how many citations Grand Teton National Park rangers have handed out to folks for either feeding bears or making food available to them. Well, so far this year 43 warnings and 63 citations have been written.
Jackie Skaggs, the park's public information officer, tells me that fines associated with those citations can run from $50 for simply leaving out an "attractant," such as a water bottle or cook kit, all the way up to $200 and a required court appearance for actually making food available to bears.
Why didn't rangers in the latest incident relocate the bear involved? Because, Ms. Skaggs says, relocating bears elsewhere in the park doesn't work. "Once they're honed-in on a food source, they're right back," she says. "They make a beeline. ... It's usually not a success."
And moving problem bears into the surrounding Bridger-Teton National Forest also isn't a good solution, as other agencies don't want a problem bear any more than the Park Service does, and because Grand Teton bears that in the past have been moved into the national forest often still find their way back to the park and where they found food.
Now here's the kicker: While Grand Teton officials have had to put down two bears this year because of problems, Ms. Skaggs says the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has euthanized seven bruins in the Jackson Hole area because they've gotten into trouble in the growing number of subdivisions.
The joke going around some circles in Jackson is that perhaps game wardens should start relocating "problem humans" who just don't understand how to live in bear habitat out of the valley.