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Reader Participation Day: Should The National Park Service Ban Solo Hikers In Grizzly Bear Territory?


Should solo backpackers and hikers be banned in bear country in national parks? USGS photo.

Does the National Park Service have to rethink its rules when it comes to backcountry travel in known grizzly bear habitat? That question grows in importance in the wake of last week's fatal mauling of a backpacker in Denali National Park.

Last year one hiker in Yellowstone National Park was killed by a grizzly, and another man hiking with his wife was fatally mauled in a separate incident. In the case of Denali, last week's fatal mauling was believed to be the first in the park's history. In the Yellowstone incidents, it marked the first known time that there were two fatal maulings in the same year.

National park staff routinely recommend that if you're going into bear country, you go in groups, but it's not a requirement. Should it be?


Like Maureen above, I hiked hundreds of miles in Yellowstone alone when I worked there. I was cautious, never approached a bear, hung my food and kept a super-clean campsite. I would hate to see the NPS take the opportunities for this kind of solitude away from future generations of hikers.

I heard an interview with the Superintendent of Denali, Paul Anderson, on NPR. Apparently the hiker killed in Denali did not take those same precautions. My sympathies to his family, but let's not over react to this tragedy.


The bear in Denali, as well as the one thought responsible for the Yellowstone maulings, was put down.

To me, this question is ultimately about protecting wildlife. Will th bear in Denali be put down?

I think a more needed ban would be on all camping at Curry Village and while we're at it let's do some pro-active banning and ban all camping in trail shelters on the Appalachian Trail. And anywhere else we can find rodent feces.

We should also consider banning all park guests from getting near enough to any of the falls in Yosemite that they might slip and fall into the water. Or from hiking in the fall or winter on Mt. Rainier.

Where would it end? The only logical answer to the question posed is NO.

should hiking be banned no people need to be more careful and respect the bears space

I worked and lived in national parks for my career. Over eight years were spent in Yellowstone. I hiked alone on a regular basis. I don't like loud noisy groups that scare off wildlife. I knew I was taking a gamble, but it was one I accepted. It was worth it to me. If a bear were to maul me, my reply would be; a died doing something I loved. Also, there have been a number of times where bears attacked visitors and the NPS did NOT destroy the bears, especially sows with cubs.

The National Park Service already supplies adequate signage, videos, pamphlets, websites, and humans to disperse required information. How individuals decide to use this information is up to them. People enter the wild animals' home and then think themselves not vulnerable because in THEIR mind they mean no harm to the animals. Well, the animals do not know this, do they? All the signage and instruction in the world is not going to fix this way of thinking. To discipline the multitudes because of the stupidity of the one is wrong in its own right.

Should hiking alone be Could the park system attempt to set up a way to link single hikers to others wanting to hike the same area in the name of safety...maybe.

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