Thursday, August 4, 2011

Another Bear Done Gone

The rangers killed a grizzly bear Monday. He was a young bear who had spent his life hanging around the developed areas on the north shore of Yellowstone Lake despite being hazed away repeatedly. Saturday he went too far by charging a man sitting beside the Storm Point Trail (which I would have hiked a couple weeks ago if not for my injured foot). The man, who apparently didn't have bear spray with him, threw his backpack at the bear who then ate the food inside the pack. That sealed his fate if the charge itself hadn't already done so considering his past history. You can read the news release here.

There have been some interesting comments about the cause of the situation here, with some debate about how well or if the park has enforced rules about food storage in recent years and what young bears may be learning as a result. Given the larger numbers of both bears and people in the park, it's probably past time to be tougher on these matters to the extent that limited funds for rangers make it possible.

Grand Teton National Park recently tightened its rules about getting close to bears after a couple bear charges at tourists parked along roads. Yellowstone plans to follow; more information in this article. Some photographers are upset because they think their photographs are more important than the subject of their photographs. Others fear that making it harder to get close to bears near roads is going to lead to more people hiking into the backcountry (not going to happen, in my opinion).

I think there may be more changes needed. Although I would hate to see (and would probably ignore) a minimum number of hikers required instead of recommended as now, one change I'd completely support is making carrying bear spray mandatory for hikers. A shot of bear spray instead of a tasty backpack might well have saved that bear's life and changed his behavior.

Last night I finished going through my photos and selected the five to enter in the employee contest. This morning I went to the store to make the required prints and found the machine out of order. Hopefully it will be fixed by the entry deadline in ten days. If so, I'll eventually post the five I picked (actually, I think they've all been posted here at some point in the past) and let you know if any of them make it past the initial cut and how they do in the final voting later this month.

I got paper copies of some past issues of Yellowstone Science including issues focused on cougars, grizzlies, wolves, bison, the 1988 fires, Mammoth Hot Springs, and more. My original plan was to get copies of all the back issues but I realized that wasn't a good idea considering my transient lifestyle. Or not so transient, with me in half a dorm room most of the year and my stuff in a small storage unit 1000 miles away.

Some short hikes to at least one place new to me coming up on Saturday, so hopefully some new photos here Sunday. And at least three or four more events to follow this month.

As is true with any place you see every day, sometimes you take it for granted. This tendency has been exacerbated for me lately because my foot has limited my hiking and kept me largely to a work and room routine. Then one day, you come back to your senses as I did this morning on my walk to breakfast when I looked around at the surrounding mountains and thought, "DAMN!"

I've also been talking with a couple people I enjoyed working with this spring and will be working with again this winter and trying to decide how those of us without cars will be getting back here. It's only early August, and I expect to enjoy many things in the next few months, but I'm looking forward to early December.



Ruahines said...

Kia ora GT,
People, roads, Bears. Not a good combination, but the bears were there first. Tough situation but I feel for the bears. Good luck with the photo contest - I think you will hold up next to anyone.

greentangle said...

Hi Robb, thanks for the photo comment.

It can be very aggravating to see the lack of respect shown to wildlife--sometimes it's excitement and ignorance such as the woman I saw last night who kept trying to get closer to an elk who kept moving away each time. Other times it's people who are in too much of a hurry to let an animal get across the road, or the professional photographer types with more lens than integrity. As always, I'm a traitor to my species as to who I care about more.

Woodswalker said...

Rest in peace, poor bear. And good luck to you in the photo contest. I sure have enjoyed seeing your gorgeous surroundings so well photographed.

greentangle said...

Thanks, the print machine is fixed and I had the five entry prints made this morning. The woman at the counter picked two that she liked a lot so I'll see if the weeding out judges agree with her.

Allan Stellar said...

I've been enjoying the Yellowstone updates. What are your winter plans? Did I miss a post?

I like your bear spray suggestion.

greentangle said...

I'll be back here to work starting December 1st. That will run to early June and if I decide I want to stay another summer, I'll be here straight through to mid-October again. So, a possible 10 1/2 month stretch in Yellowstone.