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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.


With all due respect -- if you don't like what I have to say, don't read it. HH wondered what I had to say, so I obliged her. Also, nothing in my writing "belittles" anyone else; I'm merely expressing my opinion. "It's thoughts like yours that poison the well and make it that much more difficult." The well is already poisoned. It's comments like this that attempt to stifle dissent, to police the thoughts of others, which--in a society founded on liberty--I find very repugnant.

In recent years, we've heard that folks on the inside of the NPS have felt their jobs would be in jeopardy if they spoke out about things they didn't like (the 2005 Management Policies 'Hoffman rewrite' as one example). But, there are organizations out there willing to help these folks make a change. These are groups like the Association of National Park Rangers (ANPR), the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (CNPSR), and the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). ANPR for instance, offers a health insurance program for seasonals -- this is somewhat new. The CNPSR lead the charge against the Hoffman policies. I know you have issues with PEER Frank, but they have stayed on the Teresa Chambers case, years after it has fallen from the headlines.

My point, it is possible to affect change from the inside, but it takes some guts, the ability to cover your ass, and probably some help from friends on the outside. More power to you Melissa if you are willing to be the change you wish to see in the world.

Thanks for pointing out those resources. While possibly helpful, they’re external to the NPS. There is no internal NPS structure that I know of (and someone please correct my ignorance on the subject) to assist current employees who would like to "make a change". That intimates that the NPS is inherently a conservative (small-c "conservative", not the big-C political term) organization; it resists change and prefers to perpetuate the status quo.

Again, I have to come back to our former mentor. Gary also said something like, "Perhaps the tacky myrtle wood sign in gift shops sums it all up: Grant me the ability to change the things I can, the ability to accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference." It took Gary an entire career to learn that.

Gary tried to "make a difference", but he--as a GS-11 chief of interpretation--was marginalized by an inflexible system and those who vehemently defended it. (In fact, I believe that the system and those who marginalized him, those who stripped him of his pride, are partially culpable for the cancer that ended Gary's life.) I understand and even shared Melissa's idealism and I think Gary would have, too. But if someone in a loftier position can't change the system, how in the larger scheme of things can a seasonal ranger change it?

Jeremy, you say Melissa can be the change she wishes to see, and in this arena she has the most power to affect change: her own actions. However, conservative elements in the NPS may view her behavior as non-conformist and dangerous and she may suffer for it. I truly hope that won't be the case.

Let's face it folks, mavericks and outside-the-box thinkers don't have long term careers in the NPS. All of the independent minded people that I ever knew in the agency are all long gone, except for one person (who admits that working for the green & gray really sucks but stays on because this person actually enjoys the natural wonders of the park they are currently stationed in). Go figure.

I know that my experience is only one single example but I hear this same refrain from other colleagues who have left the agency that tell me the people that they admired the most as former co-workers have also left the NPS. Most of those that remain are what I call the "go along, get alongs", people that ride the wave to retirement and are quite content to give a sub-par performance as government careerists. These are also folks that would be totally unable to land the same high level of pay and benefits in the competitive marketplace. They know a good thing when they see it. Then there are the newly entitled, as I like to call them, federal hangers on like non-combat military veterans milking the 10-point cow as well as specially targeted classes of government decreed victims who are given preference over more qualified personnel due to their membership in a supposedly oppressed group or race. (I always put a check mark in the Pacific Islander box whenever I was required to fill out any government forms about my identity. It never seemed to get me the promotions I was looking for though.)

This is not the snapshot of a workforce that will tend to be overly eager to shift paradigms or rock the boat. A nice quiet glide towards a comfortable retirement on the good ship green & gray is more their speed (with all the paid holidays you can shake a stick at). I believe this is what upper management rewards and it is why the agency is the stagnant and inefficient morass that most outsiders see today. Most insiders do as well, but are generally way too afraid to say it all that loud.

I truly wish Melissa the best. I myself have built a successful company that conducts natural history tours and lectures to a wide spectrum of clients in a variety of national park areas across the country. I'd suggest that she think through all of her non-NPS options first before giving too much time and effort to an organization that values group-think and conformity over change and re-invention. The NPS often talks a good game but if you take a really close look at who actually works in the agency you'll find a strict obedience to the chain of command, along with a deep-seated fear of retribution and an overall mindset that highly values loyal soldiers who will march in lock step to the latest WASO initiative as the path of least resistance to a successful career in the dreary uniformity that is the way of the green & gray.

Wow, you pretty much summed it up right there, Beamis.

I first started as a seasonal ranger, eleven years ago. I worked for a number of years as a campground ranger and in fee collection at the entrance stations. When i took my first job in interpretation, i was full of enthusiasm and a belief that i could make a difference. I felt like it was such a privelege to be part of the history of our parks, and of course the NPS has a fantastic mission statement. But that's really all just on paper.

The agency appoints superintendents who try to circumvent the rules whenever they can get away with it. They often follow the letter of the law and not the spirit of it. I have seen permanent career employees who are either shockingly apathetic about resource issues or make decisions that will advance their careers even to the detriment of the park (like agreeing with really poor decisions from on high, instead of speaking up.) I had one supervisor in the recent past who was an amazing man ... passionate, intelligent, vocal and he was consistently passed over for promotion.

The summer before last i was fairly fired up about a pending decision to "improve" the Gros Ventre campground. It's a large campground on the southern flank of the park, it has several hundred campsites, and hardly anyone stays there. And the reason for that is because it's on a side road that for some reason on the park map looks like it's not paved. After the privatization three years ago, the lodge company began agitating for improvements like 100+ sites with electrical hookups for RV's, and they wanted to build shower facilities and a camp store and a bloody laundromat (i'm not even kidding!!!) Meanwhile, the town of Jackson is a mere 5 miles away! For some reason, the park superintendant was all for this plan which is currently on a back burner, not off the table mind you, due to a lack of funding.

This side road that the campground is on just happens to go through the area where most of the park's bison and antelope give birth to their calves. It's also one of the few places in the park in June, July and August where you can take a nice leisurely drive to watch wildlife and not pass a thousand other people. I've sat on the shoulder of that road at dusk, watching the bison, deer and elk and also watching across the valley the headlights from hundreds of cars on the park's main road. In both directions ... a solid line of car after car after car. Meanwhile, where i am, i might see two or three vehicles in a half an hour.

But if you build it, they will come. Adding electrical hookups and services to the Gros Ventre campground would increase the traffic out there by what? A hundred fold? More? I mean, i agree there is a lack of amenities for RV'ers that need hookups but there are also three other campgrounds on the main road that they could "improve" instead. What kind of value should we place on keeping the solitude of that part of the valley? For crying out loud, it's not 1930 ... the NPS should be waaaaaay past the point of development simply to encourage visitation. So .... i was fired up about this topic, and basically i couldn't find anyone else in my district that cared. Supervisors or seasonals. No one cared. No one was even interested in discussing it with me.

And the situation this summer with the bears was simply the icing on the cake. Several of these deaths could have been averted by having a ranger staff patrolling the campground, and closing trails and backcountry campsites to the public, but no one wanted to make the decision to close trails. Why? Because we have to be a good "neighbor" to the community of Jackson. If we close the trails or campsites some local residents might be unhappy. (This excuse is a political decision i heard repeatedly over the last few years to justify many absurd policy decisions.)

This past summer i finally realized ... i have no ideals or enthusiasm left for the National Park Service. The beaureaucracy has crushed it out of me. Stick a fork in me, i'm done.

I still want to live in a national park ... how can i do anything else at this point? And for the most part, i still like the job that i do. I do good work. I get positive feedback from the public, if not from the agency. And i have no intention of quitting. When i say that i believe i can change the agency from the inside, what i mean to say is ... i can do exactly what i did two summers ago. Write anonymous letters to the local papers, call up local environmental organizations and fill them in on the issues (which surprisingly they often know nothing about), and give them information that they might not have otherwise.

I worked with a gentleman who had met Ed Abbey when he was right out of college, and he likes to tell the story of what one of Abbey's supervisors had to say about him ... "You better keep an eye on that one. He's a thinker."


Do you worry that your supervisors know who you are from the posts you have made here? In any event, I admire your bravery for speaking out.

Jim Macdonald
The Magic of Yellowstone
Yellowstone Newspaper
Jim's Eclectic World

i think that by putting a bear down is a bad thing the people could of just tried to scare it away. there is not need to kill the bear.i don't agree with that,i thing that by killing an animal is sin. because no animal desirves to be killed at any matter. thats also hurting the envirment to other baers... so what if even more bears started doing this are they all going to have to die?? just because of that???.....

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