Mammoth – It’s like a scene from the 60’s. Someone is feeding bears in Yellowstone. That could be a death sentence for people and the bears.
The story is about a bear locals call Snow. The cub was a year old in 2016. She is three years old now, and has left her mother. She was recently photographed leaning on a car with people inside.
Yellowstone Bear biologist Kerry Gunther explained, “That bear came up, put its paws on the car, looked in the window, and grabbed the antennae, which had a little plastic ball on top and started mouthing that ball.”
Gunther said that’s a very bad sign.
He explained, “I suspect somebody’s fed that bear already. It started last year, approaching cars and getting up and touching cars, and usually that happens when somebody’s fed the bear, and the bear is coming back for more food.”
And, park officials know it’s happening all over Yellowstone.
Gunther remarked, “We’ve had two incidents of people where people have fed bears this year: one outside Mammoth towards Tower, and one in the Old Faithful area.”
Biologists say a fed bear is a dead bear. In 2003 Wyoming Game and Fish officials had to euthanize the healthy boar, because it came to humans for food.
Gunther said the Park has to do the same thing, “For human safety reasons, once a bear becomes highly food conditioned to human foods, we usually have to remove and euthanize that bear”
Gunther said when people get too close to bears, the animals get used to humans nearby, and someone will eventually feed them. A black bear was literally next to the road Thursday, when people moved within 20 feet of its face. When told to move away from the bear, one man said,
“Hey, mind your own business!”
Gunther reminded, “Park regulations stipulate that you stay at least 100 yards from bears.”
Three people have been killed by bears in Yellowstone since 2012. Officials think a Lake area bear, called Blaze, killed the hiker near Elephant Back Trail in 2015. It’s believed Snow is the granddaughter of Blaze.
Gunther said his team is trying to teach the young bear to stay away from people. They are trying to teach her to stay away from the road.
Gunther explained, “If it’s on the road, we’ll haze it off. We’re trying to keep it alive.”
And, he has advice for people who may be approached by a bear.
He said, Honk your horn and drive away. Don’t ever let a bear climb up on your car.”
Gunther said the rising number of visitors is the primary reason people are feeding and crowding the bears.