Bear Watching Mayhem In Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks

Judging from this photo (yes, that's a grizzly), and the accompanying video, is it any wonder there are bear-human conflicts in the national parks?

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.

Comments

This is not an uncommon event in Yellowstone. It just shows how stupid some people can be.

It happens all the time, see my photo of a similar situation with a black bear (also taken in Yellowstone): http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3072/2595873891_f6c98bd0d5_o.jpg
Absolutely terrifying!

We travel to Yellowstone aproximently every other year since 1988. People interfering with bear and other wildlife normal activity has been on the rise. Many tourists especially those from Europe believe that this is one big petting zoo and that nothing will hurt them. Note early this year when aproximently 30 tourists walked right up to Old Faithful's cone and took pictures (only the bus driver and tour guide received a fine) . It was very scarey for those few of us watching the live feed. I don't know what can be done to convince fools to follow the rules. Possibly inforcing the fines already on the books would help, but that costs money and man power. In the current economy the additional funds are not available.

Knowing how in an instant primal behavior exhibits itself, the learning curve for many looking to touch the wild things and something extremely real is both transformational and in some cases, deadly. I don't begrudge the effort and especially the breakthroughs (If you survive) but people starting out with the distortions of the Bambi or dot com culture have a bit farther way to go. I love to see the breakthroughs while dropping a respectful word here and there to help them get an idea of what it is to be "natural!" :):):)

I've been to Yellowstone and other National Parks and have seen humans acting stupidly. I’ve seen people in Bryce Canyon standing on a less than 1’ wide rock pinnacle several 100 feet above a canyon to get a picture, an individual heading down the Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon from the rim at sunset during a ice/storm, and in Yellowstone several people not obeying Park Rangers to head back to the road during a dangerous situation with a bear to where the Rangers had their guns drawn the people still would not listen.

Photographers have telephoto lenses. They can get photos just fine. Rangers should have restrictions or people are going to get hurt cause their own stupidity.

I have also witnessed stupid people doing stupid things in Yellowstone - a woman approaching a bull elk with camera drawn, followed by two other stupid people. This was in the rutting season. Another incident involved a woman jumping out of her car, approaching a herd of bison with calves, and as a calve approached this woman, so did the herd. Unbelievable people that think National Parks are nothing more than a big Zoo, and animals are friendly.

The absolute worst tourist striving for a Darwin Award that I have seen at Yellowstone was 2 foreign speaking tourists that wanted to take photos with the pet buffolo outside of Lake Lodge. It was a good thing that the buff was in an exceptionally good mood because they went right up and scratched it behind the ears. Don't know which gods were on their side that day. They sure ignored the lodge manager telling them to get away.

My feelings are expressed in all the comments. What is the fine for molesting the animals?

Nothing infuriates me more than idiots in the wilderness. Are we going to start having to test people before allowing them into our National Parks? Pass the test, you can enter; flunk, go back to How to Behave Around Wildlife 101 class. The sad thing is, we don't put bar the idiots from the parks--but if something happens, the bears get put down. Just breaks my heart.

The tough reality about these encounters, as thrilling as they may be for visitors, is that the bears often wind up losing. Should one charge at folks who venture too close or pose a threat to their cubs, she runs the risk of being caught and put down. Our zoo here in Memphis obtained three orphaned grizz cubs from WY (near YSNP) because of that very thing, their mother was euthanized as the result of an act of aggression. It's a delicate balance to maintain, since wildlife spotting is a wonderful part of the park experience. But people need to respect the wildness of these creatures and realize that awesome can morph into awful in the blink of an eye.

I have seen this exact same thing happen this summer in Yosemite Nat'l park ... In that instance it was also a mother bear with two cubs, and people were approaching within 50 yards of them. I understand people being excited by seeing wildlife but they need to realize that the wildlife do not share their enthusiasm...in fact the wildlife is most likely scared.

people have a huge misconception about the animals in the park. my family was at yellowstone earlier this year when the couple was attacked, and the man killed by a mother grizzly. a few days later, we were on a trail ride and one of the people riding told the guide, "well they were on a trail". do people really think that the animals don't use the trails as well as well as humans. i guess some people think that the trails are guarded by an imaginary line that the animals will not cross. just unbelievable.

It's as interesting to me to see the incredulous comments about park visitor behavior as it is the visitor actions. There has always been a degree of outrageous behavior but I believe it's worse now with the direction of the culture away from everyday or working experience in the resource fields and the corresponding over the top demonizing of many that do make their living connecting to the resource in real ways on a daily basis.
In the private sector many Range Tech's start out after college filled with judgements and theories working with ranchers and others are changed by the experience but are locked in financially and career wise to environmental agendas pushed by environmental groups and their superiors. A bit of real world knowledge would contribute greatly to the "wild culture" and reduce the absolute disconnected dangerous behavior by many visiting our parks hanging out with those things wild. It's hard to do in mass but for those most connected and committed to giving/allowing the people the opportunity to get a real sense of wildness at the same time stirring their survival skills, I give great praise acknowledging their own blessings by their individual actions that add so much to people and those things wild.

We were there this summer and I watched in amazement as a father led his daughter up the hill to see a bear up close. They got within 15 feet of the grizzly, and could not possibly make it to safety if the bear decided to charge. It was like watching a father take his child to slaughter. Som
thing about fresh air makes adults get really stupid.

I've said it before & I'll say it again...it's not Disneyland and those are NOT audioanimatronics! I have a very healthy respect for the wildlife in our Parks. From squirrels (cute, but may carry plague) to bears/wolves/bison (huge and can really hurt me!). I am not even tempted to push the envelope & get too close. People who get too close to large critters would probably have enough smarts not to get too close to a angry/unstable person with a firearm, why don't they understand that the dangers are the same; both are unpredictable and dangerous.

Folks, Yellowstone is NOT A ZOO! there are no fences between you and the animals and the animals are WILD. You are intruding into their habitat and they see you as a threat to their survival. So many people deserve to become bear food these days, no wonder we hear of deaths all the time in our National Parks.

Just returned from Yellowstone and was lucky enough to see a wolf( Soda butte) and four grizz. It's true the tourists from outside of the US are really something. Unfortunatly it seems the Asian being the worse. Very poor manners--- one actually pushed my wife almost to the ground butting in line for ice cream at the Old faithful Inn. When we told two to get back on the board walk as the walked to the edge of Celestine pool for pics-- they just smiled and told us to basically shove it?? And I thought everyone always talks about the 'Ugly" Americans overseas ??

Park officials need to impose some very STIFF fines for people who exit their vehicles when wildlife(griz, black bear, elk, bison) are about. As someone said, the cameras do have a zoom option. These animals are under enough stress without some idiots adding to the problem!! Many times, when a grizzly is taken down it includes not only the sow, but her cubs. They end up in zoos. We should be able to act responsibly and prevent this from happening. In Canada, their Parks are for the resource(animals), not the people. Maybe we could adopt that philosophy too???

The Darwin Principle at its best!

We just returned from Yellowstone on Sunday and I couldn't believe the people from Asia and Germany who really think these animals won't hurt them. We were on a mud pot trail when a bus of Asian people exited and went up the path , within ten feet of bison who were eating. I couldn't believe the bison didn't charge a young man. Knowledge about wild life is missing. I can't believe more people aren't killed here every year. The stampede of people running with cameras if their is a sighting of an animal is scary. These people act like these animals are rock stars. The landscape in beautiful just feel lucky if you see wildlife from your car. Enjoy the beauty of the park and let the animals live in peace.

This was not a scene from Yellowstone Park. I am very familiar with all parts of this park and there is no place with that kind of background structure, fenced in bears and deciduous trees. This is clearly a video from one of those "animal parks" where people can drive in and see the bears walking around their vehicles. It's not Yellowstone, folks! This may have been the kind of scene in Yellowstone 50-60 years ago...... but black bears don't nuzzle cars there today. Any "friendly acting" bear is either hauled far into the back country or destroyed..... period. No more "tame" roadside bears are eating peanut butter sandwiches. Yes, bears, even grizzlies, do forage beside park roads.... and sometimes walk right across roads between cars. But tame bears like these? No Way!

Jack:
This was not a scene from Yellowstone Park. I am very familiar with all parts of this park and there is no place with that kind of background structure, fenced in bears and deciduous trees. This is clearly a video from one of those "animal parks" where people can drive in and see the bears walking around their vehicles. It's not Yellowstone, folks! This may have been the kind of scene in Yellowstone 50-60 years ago...... but black bears don't nuzzle cars there today. Any "friendly acting" bear is either hauled far into the back country or destroyed..... period. No more "tame" roadside bears are eating peanut butter sandwiches. Yes, bears, even grizzlies, do forage beside park roads.... and sometimes walk right across roads between cars. But tame bears like these? No Way!
Tame? That's no tame bear, and it's not a black bear either. It's simply unconcerned with all the people crowding around it. Disinterested is not the same as tame.

This doesn't appear to be anything but what the author claims it to be - video footage taken on the Grand Loop Road near Mt Washburn.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITy-TIjqYmI
http://www.nbcmontana.com/Some-Wonder-Why-Yellowstone-s-Bear-Policy-Differs-From-Glacier-s/-/14594424/14298788/-/kf3ilbz/-/index.htmlhttp://www.nbcmontana.com/Some-Wonder-Why-Yellowstone-s-Bear-Policy-Differs-From-Glacier-s/-/14594424/14298788/-/kf3ilbz/-/index.html

y_p_w is correct Jack. This is Yellowstone near Mt Washburn and that is a griz!

Maybe it's because people have been disconnected from nature for ever and have no clue as to how it's supposed to work.

WELL, in this INCIDENT, at least SOME LAW ENFORCEMENT RANGER did not

appear to TASER the GRIZZ, Protecting the People from the Park as they like

to justify. Imagine, how many GRIZZ have been killed by the NPS over the decades

after ignoring the Craighead Brothers recommendations NOT to close the YELL DUMPS

IMMEDIATELY, food waste DUMPS, the NPS supported, with earlier FEEDING the BEARS

as Public Entertainment. Now, had this GRIZZ dared scratch an adult or child, NPS

would have been there justifying shooting the GRIZZ. This is why WILDERNESS AREAS

HELP PROTECT THREATENED/ENDANGERED SPECIES vs. the Disneyland National Park

version of petting zoos.