Editor's note: Bears in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks have been in the news a bit this summer, both because of their behavior and the behavior of tourists watching the bears. The following column, which Todd Wilkinson posted on his Wildlife Art Journal site the other day, will have you scratching your head over how there haven't been more bear-human incidents this summer.
There has been a debate raging this summer in the northern Rockies over restrictions placed on how people should be allowed to observe wildlife in national parks. Given the enormous popularity of two mother grizzly bears and cubs in Grand Teton National Park—and huge crowds gathered along the roadside—stipulations were put in place that require people to stay at least 100 yards away from bruins at all times.
What it means is that if a bear indicates that it wishes to approach the roadside or cross to the other side, people need to move. This has caused a backlash from professional wildlife photographers.
While the vast, vast majority of park visitors are well behaved, there are always defiant individuals who venture too close, throw food to wildlife or simply behave cluelessly.
Fortunately, grizzlies exhibit a high level of tolerance. In this video, passed along by Yellowstone officials, one doesn't need an active imagination to recognize what could go wrong were a bruin to suddenly act aggressively. NOTE: After you watch this video, click on the corresponding 24-second footage titled "man photographing grizzly bear mother and two cubs." The level of stupidity will take your breath away.