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Reader Participation Day: Do Grizzly Attacks Have You Leery of Hiking in Yellowstone National Park?


Are you canceling plans to hike in Yellowstone's backcountry because of this summer's fatal bear attacks? NPS file photo.

With two fatal grizzly maulings in Yellowstone National Park this summer, it's understandable if some feel intimidated about hiking in the park's backcountry. Would you cancel a hike because of those incidents?

Neither published records nor park officials can cite another year when bear attacks killed two Yellowstone visitors. Were this year's attacks just an extreme coincidence, or is it getting more risky to hike into grizzly bear habitat?

Whatever the reason, tell us if this summer's incidents have you canceling or reconsidering hiking into Yellowstone's landscape.


When a human goes hiking in bear country, the human becomes part of the food chain.  If that means you are not at the top, then you are taking a chance.  I will continue to hike and camp in the backcountry, but be prepared, cautious and aware of the possibilities.  If I die from a bear attack, I would not wish the bear be put to death as I was in its territory,  he/she was not in mine.
Same thing for swimming in the ocean.  If you become fish food, well, you became part of the food chain when you entered the water.
Now, go out and enjoy nature without following it up with a lawsuit if you or someone in your party exits nature in a body bag or is left behind as scat on the forest floor.

And what does that mean? Did that mean that the volunteer thought pepper spray was ineffecive? There seem to be some gun advocates from the west who are afraid that widespread use of pepper spray will somehow infringe on their rights. . but I can't imagine how someone would recommend NOT taking a proven deterant into bear country . . sure it might not be a 100% guaruntee that you will safe but it sure would improve your chances, even if you had a gun as well. Pepper spray is easy to use, the effects on humans only last about 40 minutes and the effects on bears last for hours.  I have seen bears sprayed effectively first hand and although it is not "brains in a can", used with common sense it has saved lives of both humans and bears. It also has other uses . . I have only used mine on a swarm of mad bees chasing me and it worked well.  After all the hours I spent with bears as a bear viewing guide and the years I have spent tracking bears I have never had to use it on a bear out on a trail.  Used it once on a bear in a building eating dirty laundry . . saved the laundry and the bear did not come back.  It also works on the most dangerous animal in the woods . . man. 

My wife and I were in Yellowstone/Grand teton NP two weeks ago. In one day in YS we were lucky enough to see a wolf and two Grizz-- one with two cubs. What a thrill-- something we will never forget. The remote danger of attack is not a factor  in visiting as far as we are concerned. Nothing is going to happen as long as you follow the rules and use common sense.We are against any killing of Grizz or anyother wildlife in the parks unless they have become habituated to humans and have lost all natural fear.What some advocate is basically turning the parks into a pseudo-zoo with no risks to humans?? If thats what you want then go to the zoo in your local town-- personally I want a wild and free Yellowstone.

As a landscape photographer and outdoor enthusiast, the common sense side of me says the chances of seeing let alone having a grizzly bear encounter are slim.  However, there is still a part of me that is a bit apprehensive about venturing too far into grizzly country, be it Yellowstone, Glacier, Denali, or any other national park which these magnificient creatures call home.  
Maybe it is because I rarely hike alone, often visiting the parks with my wife and, in the near future, my newborn son (no, I won't be taking my newborn into the woods...we're going to wait a year or two, opting for short, safe hikes in local state parks until he is a bit older), that makes me extra cautious when venturing into an area where I am no longer at the top of the food chain.
Still, I hope to visit Yellowstone in the near future.  The geysers, watefalls, geothermal features, abundant other wildlife, etc. are all too much to miss out on due to the presence of one species of bear.  When I do visit, I will be packing my bear spray and adhere to all park regulations and heed trail warnings.  Better safe than sorry! :)

I thought this was very interesting and very informative!!!

 I wouldn't place too much faith in the idea that you are safer traveling in groups... what was it here just a month or two back, seven young men were attacked and badly mauled. And carrying a big gun might or might not stop one. Your best bet is, carry a gun and bear spray, and know how to use them. Travel with more than seven to a group, make Lot's of noise ( so much for a relaxing hike), don't take a bath, or cook anything that smells, or use anything that smells, like bug spray. Try to avoid rubber like, boats, boots, coats,etc. And avoid animal carcases that have been feed upon and buried out of sight...wait, if they are buried, then you probably won't see them before it's too late - in this case it would be best to remain in your vehicle with the doors locked and windows up. And remember, just because you feel like you or your family are in danger, does give you the right to protect yourself! Remember, these are only a few of the rules you should follow when you are about to enjoy a hike. Every bear reacts differently and in some cases nothing you do will work and you will be eaten. Thank you and have a nice day!

We should protect all wildlife in national parks, among the only small fragmented refuges remaining for
large mammals requiring much open space.  Visitors need to be instructed: Enter this Trail at your own
Risk like you do each day you drive a vehicle knowing approximately 44,000 fellow citizens
are killed each year in crashes.  We do not need an autocratic NPS Bureaucracy consuming scarce
Taxpayer dollars engaged in pseudo-research whose mission is to kill bears with a natural instinct
to defend their cubs.  Wildlife die on highways in parks because of distracted drivers each day.  If more
rangers were on the highways (instead of their computer cubicles) fining speeding drivers in the parks, less
wildlife would perish.  For the readers who carry concealed weapons, visit urban parks where your prey
will be the vicious human predator.

My husband and I have hiked in Glacier and Denali. We have seen Grizzly bears at both places. Does the recent incident make less likely to hike....NO. I still it is more dangerous to drive to the airport than hike where Grizzlies live.

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