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Yellowstone kills aggressive bear near Heart Lake

Posted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:09 pm
by andrew
Didn't seem like they had much of a choice...

Re: Yellowstone kills aggressive bear near Heart Lake

Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:00 pm
by yellvet
Based on the chronological history of this young griz (which appears in the press release) I bet many people have the same concerns as I do.

In 2015, the young bear began exhibiting bold behavior toward people. So, how does the Park discern "bold" behavior from "curious" bear behavior or the behavior of a hungry bear that is going through the normal annual bear stage called "hyperphagia"? (fattening up before winter hibernation). Is it ethical to kill a bear for exhibiting its natural instinctive behavior?

Bears, both black and grizzly bears, typically, will investigate campsites and tents when they smell odors coming from food, beverages, camping and/or personal items that haven't been properly stored. So did anyone search the Heart Lake campsite or search the tents for any food or odorous items before the bear was killed? More importantly, many Park visitors can't tell the difference between a grizzly bear and a black bear. So was the right bear put down? More importantly, if the Park knew that an aggressive grizzly was in the Heart Lake area, why were the visitors issued a camping permit in the first place? Or, at a minimum, why didn't a back country ranger check on the campers, warn them about the grizzly and tell them to camp at a developed campground for their own safety?(Norris or Indian Creek)

In 2015 WY game personnel captured and tagged the bear and, reportedly, relocated it to the Caribou Targhee NF. So did the bear that was put down this month have the same ID tag as the bear that was relocated 2 years ago? The press release says that it was the same bear but how does anyone know for sure that it was same bear? For folks who aren't aware of this, relocating a bear is very costly. So, it's usually more cost effective and productive to put a perceived "problem bear" down. But perception is not the same thing as reality.

In 2016 the bear had reportedly entered campsites in the Heart Lake area and had destroyed tents, sleeping, bags and sleeping pads. So, how did bear management personnel know that it was the same bear? Or did they just "assume" that it was the same bear? For the past two summers, I've seen two grizzlies traveling together and foraging in the Slough Creek area. So, for anyone to assume that only one grizzly can be in one area, is simply not true. Several years ago, a similar incident happened in the Slough Creek back country. Campers had left their dinner unattended by the campfire and a bear showed up and ate it. The campers ran back to the CG and told the host that the bear had attacked them. But that never happened according to the camper that I talked to. They had left their food out in the open by the fire and the bear snatched it. The bear had never attacked them. But for eating their dinner, the bear was labeled as being aggressive and was put down.

The press release says that everything had been done to change the bear's behavior...having tried bean bags, rubber bullets and cracker rounds. When a bear instinctively needs food because it's in hyperphagia, then it will search and find food regardless of traps or the use of aversive conditioning. Since the press release says that the bear had been able to elude the traps that had been set for it in prior years, why would bear management think that traps would work in September, 2017? My theory is that they knew that the bear was in its hyperphagia phase and that it needed to eat. So setting a trap baited with a yummy blueberry compote would likely entice the bear into the trap. Well, it worked. But was it necessary to end the life of a young grizzly that was only doing what came to it, naturally, out of a necessity to survive?

So what did the rangers find at the campsite? Did they find any food or odorous items in the campers' tents or in or by their fire pit? Did they even bother to look? If the campers left anything out in the open in an active grizzly area, then the campers should have been cited for improper food storage, at a minimum. I blame the Park and the campers for the death of this young grizzly. It was a tragedy that should never have happened. As paid stewards of Yellowstone wildlife, Park rangers should never have issued a camping permit to anyone for a site that was in a known and active grizzly bear area, no matter how experienced the campers were. The campsites should have been closed when the grizzly was first sighted near Heart Lake in 2016, instead of waiting until after the bear was destroyed. And, most particularly, because of the bear's prior history of being aggressive toward people. Shame on all of you!!

This isn't the first time a needless bear tragedy has happened in Yellowstone. And it probably won't be the last until such time that 1)rangers start following the Park's bear management policies and procedures and the Park's bear hazing protocol and 2) until such time that visitors are vetted more closely for back country camping and 3) campers start complying with the Yellowstone camping rules and regs and the extra precautions that need to be taken when camping in bear country. If you're interested in finding out more about this incident, then I highly recommend that you request a copy of the final investigation report of the incident. Just write a letter to the Park's FOIA officer and request a copy of the report. The Park has to respond to your request within 30 days. If this bear was continually endangering the lives of campers and was destroying personal property, then it needed to be put down. But I also know from personal experience that, all too often, it's much easier, faster and cheaper to kill a bear than it is to spend the money and time to relocate it. How sad that bears always seem to pay the ultimate price with their lives for the lack of understanding, incompetence and complacency of well-meaning humans.

Re: Yellowstone kills aggressive bear near Heart Lake

Posted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 5:58 pm
by BeartoothTucker
That is a lot of if's and but's. I guess I don't share your same skepticism that the Park Service resorts to killing a bear when it has other options.

Re: Yellowstone kills aggressive bear near Heart Lake

Posted: Wed Oct 11, 2017 10:43 am
by yellvet
BT, what kind of "other Park options" did the Park have, other than to kill the bear or relocate it? The questions that I posed were based solely on the content of the Official YNP news release about the incident at Heart Lake, along with my own personal observations, knowledge and experience with campers, bears and bear behavior. I have the utmost respect for Kerry Gunther and Chris Servheen and would never question their decision to put down a bear. In fact, the Park has made great strides over the years, increasing the Yellowstone grizzly bear population to healthy levels. It's a success story that Yellowstone can be proud of. IMO, most of that success, was due to better Yellowstone bear management and making Yellowstone visitors and campers more "bear aware". Hopefully, the questions that I posed were some of the same questions asked by bear management and Park officials before the decision was made to kill this bear. Kind of a moot point now...You may want to read this June 2017 NY Times article: ... -list.html