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Grand Teton Puts Down Another Bear


For the third time in less than a month rangers in Grand Teton have put down a bear that had become too accustomed to human food. Kurt Repanshek photo.

It's beginning to sound like open season for black bears in Grand Teton National Park. For the third time in less than a month rangers have killed a black bear that had grown too accustomed to tying humans to food. This time the bear was a 60-pound male.

In recent weeks rangers killed two other black bears, both females, who had turned into problem bears because park visitors had left food out.

In the most recent case, the young male is thought to have obtained food in early August when visitors had left food unattended at Inspiration Point.

"Since then, this young bear repeatedly acquired food from people, once more at Inspiration Point but primarily at the Jenny Lake Campground and along the shores of Jenny Lake. He boldly approached people to take food and did this more frequently as time passed," park officials said. "During the first week of September, incidents involving this bear occurred almost daily. He showed no fear of humans by this time, approached families at picnic sites, walked around cars in parking areas, and even investigated a cabin in one incident, putting his paws up on the cabin window."

The park's news release did not mention whether any visitors were cited for making food available to the bear and calls to park officials were not immediately returned.


That's it "anonymous"'s all Bush's fault...nevermind that his wife is a huge fan of the parks (unlike Bill Clinton's wife).
You have absoulutely NO credibility in what you say as long as your ilk want to blame everything on the President and his administration. Did it ever occur to you that these decisions are made at a MUCH lower level???


I too want to thank and congratulate you! Stick with it.

My experience is a bit varied. And I've never been a ranger - I'm on the research side of things (and of course, a visitor to many national parks). But my experience this summer - note, I was in Alaska, which is a different situation - is that many of the rangers often get slighted. By this I mean that they do have a tough decision - whether to take reports seriously. Many people may not realize how tough a decision they have, considering the varied sources of pressure they feel when making a decision. Many visitors to our parks - and all public lands - are so disconnected from the animals (and natural environments as a whole) they are watching that they do over-react too often. A couple of the rangers I met this summer deserve to hold on to their cynicism.

That said, we have too many people doing things in our parks (whether feeding the animals or whatever), that need to be stopped. I know that the interp staff at Rocky Mountain NP here in Colorado says that only about 5% of their 3 million annual visitors actually attend a ranger-led talk or program. Signs get ignored far more than they get read. Park literature is never looked at - even when given out for free. This is an audience problem, in my opinion. People need to be responsible. If you figure out how to force responsibility and maturity on people, let me know!

And until we reconnect many of our park visitors to the real world around them, situations like this Grand Teton - bear incident are not going to go away. We need to be the ones reaching out and trying to inform our fellow visitors. Maybe this can be some good peer pressure. :)


Jen: Your comments are right on. Reminds me of an experience this summer in Yosemite. Checking into White Wolf tent cabins, I got the usual bear warnings. The man behind me look stupified. "You mean there are bears here!" "Real bears?" "Will they come into my tent?" Hard to believe that someone coming to Yosemite just had no clue. Of course, that night, a bear ransacked a bear box that had been carelessly left unlocked. Maybe by a person who just didn't think there really were bears in Yosemite National Park.

Yes Gerald, I realize that the lower subordinates dish out some of the fool hardy decisions of this present administration. Yes, fool hardy! But all this butt sniffing goes all the way to the top of the White House. Who do you think is guarding the hen house your fairy godmother? Damn right I blame the Bush administration for most of the crap that goes on within the national parks today. I didn't realize Mrs. Bush was such a lover of the national parks (I deeply welcome that) not until the latter part of the year, and not until the world was denouncing the Bush & Cheney doctrine on most of their anti-environmental polices, from global warming to the lack of wholesome support for the national parks, and other major pertinent conservation issues here in the U.S. and aboard.

Wow, Melissa's comments make my heart ache. I wish I could, like the others, tell you to "stick with it" but instead I'll give you my advice; "pace yourself" while trying to change things from the inside or move on.

I do think she gives a good example of where privatization of park can fail. I'm curious what Beamis and FrankHead have to say about this. Though, I suspect privatization is less to blame here than the undertrained, undermotivated, understaffed ranger force. Surely the Chief Ranger still has jurisdiction in these campgrounds. No?

There are many not-so-expensive ways to mitigate this campground/bear/human education problem (as Melissa explains it), but alas, I'm no longer on the pension payroll.

I love the parks and despite all the bureaucrats in charge, i can make a difference. I can change the operation from the inside.

Some advice from my mentor:

"Frank, you will not change the bureaucracy. I couldn’t; Norm Messinger couldn’t; John Krisco couldn’t; Brian Harry couldn’t; Wayne Cone couldn’t; John Muir couldn’t; Stephen T. Mather couldn’t. Thoreau, Jefferson, Michelangelo…the list goes on ad infinitum."

I got this advice from my mentor on my sixth season out of ten seasons with the NPS, and looking back, I sometimes think that I had gotten the advice earlier or at least understood it earlier; the "operation" of the NPS can't be changed from the inside.

A lowly seasonal will never be able to change the operation of the NPS. If you ask questions, if you show originality of thought, if challenge any of the NPS's sacred cows as a seasonal, forget about it. You can be fired at any time for any reason, and I know seasonals who were fired for speaking out against unsafe boat tours at Crater Lake and for sticking up for the private property owners at Mineral King in Sequoia. I've seen seasonals get reprimanded for pushing for recycling, opting out of dangerous training exercises, discussing environmental degradation caused by the NPS.

Try to get a permanent job so you can change the system. But the federal hiring system is so corrupt, so full of nepotism, favoritism, careerism, and more -isms than you can shake a stick at. Other groups will have preference over you, especially those already firmly entrenched in the civil service. Hell, a veteran working for the IRS and looking to escape hell will waltz right into a job in the park you've spent six summers in and know like the back of your hand.

If you do get a permanent job, by the time you've got it, you'll be struggling to pay back student loans that have pilled up for the years you worked seasonally. You'll get health insurance for the first time in years. You'll finally be on the road to a fat pension. You'll get comfortable. You won't speak out. Too dangerous. Might loose everything you've been working for. Besides, you can make some small changes, here and there, as a permanent ranger. Next thing you know, twenty years have gone by.

No, the system can't be changed from the inside. The only thing to be done is end the system. There is a better way. There is a way to end the corporate, government-sanctioned monopolies that have invaded our national parks. There is a way to end political influence in national parks. There is a way to create a stable funding source for the national park, that will not be subject to political stalemates (by the way, people were chanting the same "the NPS needs more money!" mantra during Clinton's administration).

It's called a public trust. I've talked about it before. If you're not familiar, you can read more about it if you want.

Also, please stop demonizing "privatization". The firms operating in the NPS are government-sponsored monopolies and multi-national corporations. Private art museums manage to protect their art, but I don't hear people screaming about the privatization of art. And for decades the NPS has allowed these corporations to fleece tourists and send the the vast majority of the profits out of the park and out of the country while charging a minuscule franchise fee that is often less than 5%. Sometimes it seems that the NPS was established primarily for the benefit of the tourism industry and concessionaires.

You have every right to be offended that the NPS is sponsoring such a multi-national monopoly that has no interest in preserving the park and doesn't bother to train its Czech employees. But realize, the such a corrupt system will crush internal dissent and can only be eliminated through external pressure.

With all due respect -- BS Frank. There are too many people looking to blame someone else. A journey of a million miles begins with one step. And another. And another. Everyone who works at the park and everyone who visits the park is to blame for not doing enough. Everyone. This problem won't get solved by all of us sitting back and counting on the charitable goodwill of the masses to maintain the parks. Also please stop belittling people who have the desire and will to make a difference. If enough people speak up from within change can happen. It's thoughts like yours that poison the well and make it that much more difficult. I don't care that your experience sucked, but thanks for sharing. A public trust still depends on people, and people are the source of the problem, not government. You go Melissa!

I think we all thought at some point in our ranger careers that we could change things from the inside. Unfortunately change is not something that is welcomed from the vast majority of entrenched bureaucrats who wish to maintain their privileged civil-service status, fat retirements and cushy assignments in paradise.

I'm pretty tired of being shot down by those who say that my experience was an aberration and that the NPS is just fine the way it is currently run and all that it needs is a lot more money thrown its way. I beg to differ and have done so consistently, as many regular readers already know.

I was able to affect a lot more change on the outside that I ever could on the inside. In one instance I had a superintendent grudgingly back down after I enlisted the aid of a U.S. Senator to get a totally bogus and onerous regulation removed after first trying friendly negotiation and reason. I would have never been able to accomplish this same feat with my career on the line.

The superintendent in question only did what he did because of the potential blot his exposed stupidity could've placed on his own legacy. He didn't act out of reasoned analysis of the situation but only because his position and status was threatened by a salvo of outrage from a much more powerful politician.

What I did worked in the given situation and benefited the park, I was even approached by rangers who said that they could've never accomplished the same thing without seriously damaging their careers and were very grateful for my efforts to curb their tyrannical boss. This is not the best way to manage natural resources or serve the visiting public. Not by a long shot.

For another slant I offer blog posts from the wonderful Retread Ranger Station: then read

Ranger Bob is a retired NPS ranger who left in good standing and truly loves the parks but is also very realistic about the actual conditions on the ground in a self-perpetuating bureaucracy that more often than not tends towards corruption and self-preservation in the higher ranks. Check out his blog, it's well worth your time.

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