One More Bear Put Down in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park authorities on Tuesday euthanized a young black bear, the second intentionally killed this summer because it had become too used to getting food from visitors.

Park officials issued a release stating that the 4- to 5-year-old bear was put down because it had been aggressive in its efforts to get human foods.

The adult female black bear had been seen frequenting the Slough Creek area in the north-central portion of the park, officials said. The bear, which weighed somewhere between 100 and 125 pounds, had been mistaken as a grizzly by some because of its brown coat.

In mid-July, the bear entered an occupied backcountry campsite in the Slough Creek drainage. Attempts to chase the bear away failed, and the bear ate the dinner the camper had prepared for himself.

Last Sunday a group of five people set up camp at the site, only the second set of campers to do so after a two-week closure. The bear returned to the occupied site. The campers left all their gear and food and hiked to the trailhead, reporting the incident to park staff.

Members of the park’s Bear Management staff hiked into the area the next day. The bear again returned to the backcountry campsite and would not leave. The animal had damaged the tent and eaten most of the food that had been left behind the day before.

Since the bear had learned to associate people with food, it posed a threat to the safety of park visitors. Relocation of habituated, food-conditioned bears has generally proven unsuccessful. Due to the Slough Creek drainages’ popularity with anglers, hikers, campers, and outfitters, the area receives such a high level of human recreational use that the risks to public safety of a live capture operation were unacceptable. Therefore, lethal removal was considered the safest method. Park staff members traveled by horseback into the area Tuesday, and put down the bear.

Overall, at least five park bears have been killed this summer. In June another black bear in the Bridge Bay area was intentionally put down because of its aggressive tactics. Previously, a year-old grizzly was a hit-and-run victim on U.S. 191 on the western edge of Yellowstone, a yearling grizzly was accidentally killed in a trapping incident, and a female black bear was killed in yet another hit-and-run accident.

Yellowstone officials continue to stress that visitors need to keep food, garbage, barbecue grills and other attractants stored in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes when not in use. This helps keep bears from becoming conditioned to human foods, and helps keep park visitors and their property safe, they said.

Comments

Don't these backcountry campsites have bear hangs? I saw some photos of the typical Yellowstone bear hands, and they didn't seem that secure. They were typically set up about 10 ft high between two trees. Some Sierra Nevada bears would climb a nearby tree and jump down at them. They're called "kamikaze bears", and they've left blood when attempting that.

It would be odd for a bear (especially a black bear) to get that brazen. I've seen a few, and they typically don't like confrontation. I remember seeing one that came into the campground, saw 30 pairs of eyes staring at it, then left before I could get my camera out. It sounds like the recent Yellowstone backpackers were doing things by the book, but the bear wasn't concerned at all. It seemed to have learned that scaring away campers works.

CAPTCHA says "congealed Mind". Freaky.

No more bear hangs, except in emergencies. Bear cannisters are required in Yellowstone backcountry (and most other bear populated US parks.) I ran into a black bear near a backcountry campsite there and the bear was completely unfazed by my presence. Walked straight towards me. I'm sure he would have happily ate my food if it was out.

Karl:
No more bear hangs, except in emergencies. Bear cannisters are required in Yellowstone backcountry (and most other bear populated US parks.) I ran into a black bear near a backcountry campsite there and the bear was completely unfazed by my presence. Walked straight towards me. I'm sure he would have happily ate my food if it was out.
Is this official policy? I understand in Yellowstone they've been slow to adopt devices that have been used successfully elsewhere, including steel food lockers and bear-resistant canisters. I can't find anything in their requirements. Also - camping in the backcountry still isn't dispersed. The info still states that backpackers must stay at designated backcountry campsites which have bear hangs.

I did hear about Grand Teton NP instituting a mandatory bear canister rule for overnight backcountry stays.

I hadn't heard that about Yellowstone, though Grand Teton does have a canister rule for backcountry stays.

I could be wrong about Yellowstone. I came up from Grand Teton so I already had my cannister. The backcountry offices asked if I had one so I assumed they were required, but maybe not.

Karl:
I could be wrong about Yellowstone. I came up from Grand Teton so I already had my cannister. The backcountry offices asked if I had one so I assumed they were required, but maybe not.
While bear canisters do work for the most part, I'd think introducing them might take an adjustment period for the bears. They'll probably smell food in them and play around with them they might learn they can't defeat them. I've certainly heard of bear canisters found far away; I placed reflective tape all over mine in case I had to find it at night. However - in places where bear canisters have been well established (like Yosemite), there are anecdotal reports that bears will often take a look at one and walk away deciding it isn't worth the effort.

I was in Yellowstone's backcountry in June and there was no bear canister rule. We used the installed hang.

I just got back from the second meadow of Slough Creek. We were supposed to stay in this site, and the ranger called us the week before to move us to another site. It was originally reported as a grizzly, which the rangers seriously questioned. No Bear Canister rule is in effect. I agree, however, that the bear bag hangs at the campsite are inadequate and way too close to the tentsites. Also stayed at Soda Butte for the two nights prior to the other attack - the campsite next to the fatal mauling.

I spent 10 days in Yellowstone in July. We were backcountry for most of the time. We encountered several bears including a large male griz when we hiked out of the park into the Gallatin Forest. We stayed out of his way and left the area with no incident. Every site had a bear pole that was over 20 feet high (challenging to get the rope over in some cases) and near the food area. If you follow the rules and advice of rangers you also camp at least 100 feet upwind of that area. Hikers should educate themselves and follow the rules of the backcountry. Yellowstone rangers provide lots of safety info. Honestly I feel safer in the backcountry than in campgrounds were you have less control of your surroundings. I follow the rules but would the camper next to me?

That is not true. There were bear poles in every backcountry campsite we stayed at in yellowstone. You had to look for most because they were the required 100 feet from camping areas and most were very high up.