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Yellowstone National Park Rangers Put Down Black Bear After It Obtained Human Food


This black bear was killed by rangers after raiding the Canyon Campground. NPS photo.

A black bear that raided some campers' food and rummaged through a campground in Yellowstone National Park was put down by rangers.

The 142-pound boar entered the Canyon Campground about 3:30 p.m. Saturday and approached a man and a woman eating at their campsite. The campers backed away from their meal, and the bear ate some of it, according to a park release.

"The bear also went through the campers’ garbage and sniffed and pawed at their tent. The bear then left the site and sniffed and pawed at other tents, bear-proof dumpsters and bear-proof food storage boxes and dug through fire pits in other campsites in the campground," the release went on.

While rangers hazed the bear out of the campground, it later returned.

"Due to safety concerns for park visitors, the bear was shot and killed at approximately 9 p.m.," the release said.

In the wake of the incident, park officials remind visitors that they need to keep food, garbage, coolers and other attractants stored in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes.


Once again, a bear pays the price for someome in its past making food accessible. I realize that we have come a long way since my husband was a boy and feeding the bears from your car was acceptable. Still, I am always sad when I hear this kind of news.

Lee-- I can't see your pics-- just the upper part of them?? Can you repost them( unless I'm the only one)

You're the only one who has complained so far. But you're also the only one who has posted. I'll reduce their sizes and try again.

Yes, Connie, it is sad. But things have come a long way since I took these photos in 1966. Scenes like this were everyday (almost hourly, for that matter) occurances.

Here they are. They lost some sharpness, but I guess you can still get the idea.

Lee is absolutely correct. I was a seasonal ranger in Yellowstone from '59-'68. Bear jams on the road were a common, everyday event, bears raiding ice chest occurred daily. A visitor from Europe once asked me what was the dumbest thing I had ever seen as a ranger. I replied that it was the family who spread jelly on their little girl's face so that they could get a photo of a bear licking the jelly off her face. I couldn't get through the line of cars to do anything about it. Thank God, she wasn't hurt.

Bear adventures continued when I worked in Yosemite. I spent two summers as the Tuolumne Sub-district ranger. There were nights when we spent most of our time hunting bears (with dart guns) in the campgrounds and we had traps set continuously.

I believe the situation has improved in Yellowstone with food storage regulations in place, bear proof garbage cans, and constant ranger warnings about bears. I do not know what the current situation is in Yosemite, but hopefully, that too is better, not only for the visitors, but for the bears.

Almost all of us who worked in Yellowstone during the '60s have photos like those posted by Lee.


And in Yosemite, two or three times a week we'd get a call that a child was trapped in a dumpster somewhere. It was always a bear cub who'd managed to get in but couldn't get out. We had ladders stashed near most of the dumpsters that we could toss in to provide an exit route.

I'm not sure if it was entirely true or not, but I was told in Yellowstone that any citations for bear feeding would be dismissed or changed to warnings by the park's magistrate. He supposedly believed that feeding bears was part of the Yellowstone Experience. In any event, they were almost never written.

Rick, where did you work in Yellowstone in those years? I was a seasonal naturalist at Norris in 66 - 67 and transferred to Old Faithful as a "protection ranger" for the fall of 67 and summer of 68 before they sent me to Albright. Do you remember how many of the black bears were decorated with colored ribbons in their ears? I was at Norris when Vic Barnes and Olin Bray were finishing the last summer of their black bear study that led to sweeping changes in bear management. I'll be heading for the park to do some research on another subject, but will see if I can find information about that study. Maybe it would be fun to prepare an article for Traveler about it.

West Thumb in 59 and 60 (pre Grant Village) and Lake from 61-68, all in the protection division. I then joined the Peace Corps, spent two years teaching at the National University in Paraguay, and returned for one last summer in Yellowstone in 71. Then on to Yosemite and elsewhere. The research I remember most vividly was done by the Craighead brothers on grizzlies. I don't remember the number of trapped grizzlies we hauled to the old Trout Creek dump where we released them, but it was quite a few.


Oh yeah, we have the old 8MM movies (transferred to DVD) that were taken when my husband and his family went to Yellowstone (1962-66) and we see people feeding the bears etc. It's hard to fathom that it was acceptable and encouraged behavior, to further the National Park experience. I think people are better educated but they're still not using good common sense all of these years later! We go to Yellowstone at least once a year and every trip we see people getting too close to the Bison, running after elk and being dangerously stupid around bears...If you say something they typically tend to get pretty nasty so most times, I just keep my mouth shut. I hate that it has to be that way but we've been cussed out by people telling us to mind our own business. So now unfortunatately my attitude is "Serves them right".

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