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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?


Of course not. There are so many reasons why people hike alone, shutting them out of all park within grizzly habitat would be total nonsense

Typicial knee jerk reaction trying to save us from ourself. Seriously?

Absolutely not. If someone chose to hike or backpack solo, they are accepting responsibility for doing so. People chose to go alone for many reasons, including having no one to go with. To deny a single person the chance to see and experience the backcounty would be an unreasonable response.

Maybe that would be best. We could maybe set a minimum size.....say 50 people or more. Then we could "march in" set up a nice intimate camp to handle all the needs of the group in a pristine area of the park. Ridiculous ???? Yeah, but so is yours !!

Silly question...

I believe it is difficult to protect people from themselves. This applies not only to hiking alone in bear country, but also to other situations such as hikers ill-prepared for trail and weather conditions, etc. What should be looked at further is the idea of having folks assessed for the costs of search and rescue, should they be determined to have taken unnecessary risks without following the recommendations of professional park staff.

No, I don't think single hikers should be banned. I think an increased educational effort to prepare single hikers for the dangers they face when they hike alone is enough of a response. I have seen people at Yosemite going MUCH too close to a mother bear and her cubs just so they could get the "perfect" photograph. This is just foolish behavior, and it should not be allowed to restrict the rights of people who are not so foolish.

There has benn one death in the history of the park from grizzly attacks? Sounds like an epidemic to me. Something must be done!

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