September 20, 2011

Yellowstone Park couple "provoked" the grizzly bear that killed the man..

It seems.
Park authorities decided to let the animal remain free as its reaction was deemed normal for a surprise encounter.

Park authorities had previously thought the couple reacted correctly...

But after an investigation, bear researchers and wildlife agents say the pair's running and screaming helped spur the bear into "a sustained pursuit of them as they fled".
If you run and scream... you're asking for it. Remember: The bear is a bear.

82 comments:

Synova said...

Don't act like prey.

This is a good life-rule for bears, and for people.

Mike said...

Ah yes the Park Service advises hikers to carry pepper spray to fend off grizzlies. Up in Alaska where Kodiak brown bears abound, hikers are advised to wear bells and carry pepper spray.

The old joke is that you can tell where those hikers have been because the bear scat contains lots of pepper and little silver bells.

jeffeastlick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

The Bears were there first. Ergo the interlopers deserve to be eaten.

That takes a degree of confusion that astounds the common sense of the mere Bear Treats like myself.

stutefish said...

I guess the idea is to let sane bears live, but kill the crazy ones.

Since this one acted sanely, it's not at fault, and doesn't need killing.

Chef Mojo said...

A lot of bears end up dead in Nelson and Albemarle Counties in Virginia, where I abide.

They are very dangerous pests. Coyotes are know to go missing as well.

And if wolves make it back out here, well, I imagine there won't be too many sightings of them, either.

Damn sure won't be turning in ear tags or such, that's for damn sure.

Just sayin'.

Bruce Hayden said...

Yeh, and a friend is bow hunting for elk maybe 50 miles from here, in a place where grizzlies have been relocated. So, not surprising, they carry - light handguns with a lot of stopping power. A lot of recoil, but better than the alternative. Unfortunately, guns are not legal in national parks.

Bear spray is nice, but a ranger told us that about half the grizzlies just lick it off. Supposedly, you need to get it in their eyes. But try doing that when the bear is attacking at 30-40 mph. Works much better with black bears.

Chef Mojo said...

@stutefish:

Any animal who kills a human must die. That's just the way it is. Once they know they can do it, they'll do it again, provocation or not. We wouldn't hesitate to put down a pit bull that mutilated and killed a child. A bear is no different.

That bear should have been put down, post haste.

Fred4Pres said...

You are supposed to not panic with a bear and just back away slowly.

With a cougar, you yell and scream but again, do not run.

With a moose or bison, run like hell.

ooonaughtykitty said...

Even Marty Stouffer knew not to piss off the wildlife.
WTF!! People... you're only Visitors.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

It's Catch-22. If a bear kills a human it must be totally OK, 'cause that's just what bears do.

Bruce Hayden said...

You also don't want to run when there are mountain lions in the vicinity. Learned that when one took a jogger around Idaho Springs (CO) almost 20 years ago. Apparently, it triggers a prey reflex, and causes an otherwise bashful cat to attack.

Lucius said...

As someone who cries through "The Bear", I'm willing to be sentimental about our furry unpredictable kin-- to a point . . . .

But this rationalization sounds a bit Gaia-esque to me. Maybe it's sound advice to keep calm, but should Running For Your Life be treated as culpable?

In fact, they sound downright *contemptuous*. I'm not saying the bear should be killed even, necessarily.

But confined. It seems only moral somehow. Not to punish the bear, even, but just-- because, because . . . .

Sounds like Park services is going all Mayor of Jawsville.

Fred4Pres said...

Great Grizzly Warning Sign in Canada.

ooonaughtykitty said...

Hey... got news for ya...


The bells mean dinner time for the Grizz in Glacier.

Call it 'Lamarck's theory' or whatever.

They have adapted.

ricpic said...

The proper etiquette is to first go up to the bear and shake the bear's paw. Then you can run away screaming.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

A major event that turned me conservative was when Carter unilaterally took Alaska state lands and turned them into national monuments as a punishment for Alaskans' intransigence in settling with the feds after the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. I was living in Juneau, and Carter's vindictive act closed large tracts of public land to hunting and fishing. Since it is illegal to possess a firearm in a national monument, I would no longer go there, since it is imprudent to hike around in Southeast Alaska with anything smaller than a .30-06 to defend oneself against bears.

Fred4Pres said...

As I mentioned, I just missed a grizzly while on horseback with my eight year old at Glacier just two weeks ago. The bear had smashed all the berry bushes down on the trail but ambled off before we go to it (it was just a few minutes ahead of us). The trail wrangler (we were the only two on the morning ride) said she sees them all the time and they just look and amble off. She said leave bear spray home since it only spooks the horses.

Later that day we saw a black bear that must have been 500 lbs.

I have seen plenty of grizzlies and brown bears in Alaska. You do not do stupid stuff (like sleep in a tent with food) and you recognize they can kill you.

And remember more people are killed by bison than bears at Yellowstone.

And the rules have changed. You can apparently carry conceal weapons in national parks if you are legal to do so in the state you are in. But check before you do so and remember you still cannot bring them into federal buildings.

AJ Lynch said...

If I was emperor, we'd have the right to kill any creature which is one rung above us on the food chain.

Amartel said...

Well, maybe consider that the people reacted like people and the bear reacted like a bear. Result: dead person. The Park Service should consider whether it is wise to let a bear that has killed a person continue to live given the strong possibility of a repeat performance, warnings about pepper spray and bells notwithstanding. This is Yellowstone, not the real wilderness; it's cultivated and they invite people in to visit. Not saying one way or the other because there's not enough facts to say. Maybe this was a unique event. Maybe not. But blaming the human for reacting like a human, like this was somehow unanticipated, and characterizing this behavior as "provoking," leads me to wonder about Park Service priorities and whether someone needs a gentle reminder about who pays the bills. (Hint: it's not the bears.)

pm317 said...

This story I am about to tell has a bit of comedic proportions. Recently, a man accidentally sat on his pepper spray canister and set it off. Unfortunately it was in a dark auditorium. He ran away and the park authorities could not find him. It was in the papers recently.

Bruce Hayden said...

It's Catch-22. If a bear kills a human it must be totally OK, 'cause that's just what bears do.

Unfortunately, that seems to almost be the government's position. And, of course, the animal rights people.

Right now, there is a stink just south of the Canadian border in Idaho (about 100 miles from here). A guy killed a grizzly that was attacking, or at least threatening. He is being prosecuted.

Probably as bad, two years ago, they relocated some problem brown bears about 50 miles down river from here. Likely from Yellowstone. One was hit by a BNSF train. But the other by a guy being charged. And, yes, he was tried, but not convicted (If I remember right), or at least indicted. His defense was that he didn't know that it was a grizzly, but thought that it was a black bear, which you can, somewhat, kill if it attacks you.

Maybe. About 30 years ago, another friend was attacked by a black bear in Colorado. He was hunting, so had a double barrel shotgun, which he unloaded from close range. He then spent the next six months explaining to the authorities why he had killed the bear out of season without a license. Duh. In retrospect, probably should have done what Chief Mojo suggests, instead of reporting it to the fish and game people.

wv: glock - likely too light for grizzlies. But interesting as wv.

rcocean said...

I think we need transport a few Grizzlies to Madison. Then all the Liberals can appreciate them even more - up close.

Fred4Pres said...

Tyrone Slothrop, Alaska was bought by the federal government so the lands Carter designated as monuments were not "state lands." When Alaska got statehood, the feds transfered about 25% to the state of Alaska. I am no fan of Carter but the lands he designated as monuments were from the federal side of the ledger.

Conservation has never been popular. Wyoming bitched and moaned about National Parks and momuments (going so far as to carve a deal that prevents the federal government from issuing any more in Wyoming), but the truth is Wyoming benefits greatly from having Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Devil's Tower.

That said, I do support more National Forests and BLM land being turned over to the states for management.

Fred4Pres said...

Shoot, Shovel, and Shut Up remains good advice.

Seven Machos said...

Where is Timothy Treadwell when you need him?

jimbino said...

I just confronted a 500-lb bear here at my home in Crested Butte, CO. Fortunately, he was more surprised by the encounter than I was. He ended up being the first bear to have been killed by the local cops.

I now make it a rule never to go out at night or hike without a slower companion.

ooonaughtykitty said...

>>>> Seven Machos said...
Where is Timothy Treadwell when you need him?

9/20/11 7:36 PM
++++

enjoying the warmth of a Grizz's poop in the maze. Bells included. :) LOL.

John Burgess said...

@Bruce Hayden: Since 2/2010, you can carry a gun in national parks. The law was changed.

WV: Vernin... big bears with appetites.

Chef Mojo said...

Shoot, Shovel, and Shut Up remains good advice.

Amen, brother. Amen.

Chef Mojo said...

(...)or hike without a slower companion.

Heh.

DADvocate said...

Never had an encounter with a grizzly in the wild. From what I understand, they are much more aggressive than black bears. You are pretty much at their mercy when you go into their territory.

I've had several encounters with black bears in the wild. When they realized we (I was never alone), they ambled off. If they're not too close, I'll scream at them, sometimes throw something, and they leave.

Bears in the national parks have lost their fear of humans because it's been decades since they were hunted. Be careful out there.

edutcher said...

The Bear pled self-defense, posted bail, and was released on his own recognizance.

SteveR said...

To paraphrase Chris Rock, the bear didn't go crazy, the bear went bear.

Henry said...

It's a fair cop, but instinct is to blame.

Cedarford said...

Tyrone Slothrop said...
A major event that turned me conservative was when Carter unilaterally took Alaska state lands and turned them into national monuments as a punishment for Alaskans' intransigence in settling with the feds after the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
=================
As mentioned, not Alaskan state lands, but Fed lands.
However, one thing I hate when we shift Party control is that succeeding Presidents just leave these idiot Executive Orders of their predecessors in place without challenge.

Clinton and Jimmy walled off huge swaths of the West and Alaska as "monuments". Reagan, Bush I and Bush II let Jimmy's dumbass stuff stand...and Dubya didn't overturn a single one of Clintons tremendous volume of Executive Orders by which he bypassed a Republican Congresss.

Carol_Herman said...

Here, I guess the wife ran faster?

Or did the man look better to the bear?

What are you supposed to do? Stand there and reach for the pepper spray on your key chain?

For advice? Stay at a Motel 6. The bears don't come around. Something about the concrete? The lights? The parked cars? The garbage cans you can't tip over?

I dunno. But I'm glad the bear was let go.

Now it can go underground for the winter.

Paul said...

Ok gang. Don't run and scream!

SHOOT! SHOOT and shoot fast.

And let me tell you, I've confronted wild horses (we got one once to keep it from starving.) Dang thing nearly ran me down. Yes it scared the daylights out of me.

Running into a huge wild animal is not something you do every day. Some may very well run!

So if you go into the wild, pack a gun. And like Robert Ruark said... Use Enough Gun.

Kirk Parker said...

Bruce,

"Unfortunately, guns are not legal in national parks."

Oh yes they are. How did you miss that change? The NPS is now required to follow the "Forest Service" protocol: whatever's legal to carry in the state containing the park property, is legal on the park property. (Federal buildings are still restricted, alas.)

William said...

Well, of course, they were to blame. There are signs all over the park telling you not to feed the animals.......Don't panic in the presence of a grizzly bear. That's right up there with duck and cover as proper eitquette for a nuclear bomb......The best way to handle a charging grizzly is to change the channel.

PatCA said...

I hate these arguments. If you manage a park, you make it safe for humans or you keep them out. Or is their goal to cull the human herd?

jac said...

In Africa the guides tell you, aoubt encounters with predators, "Whatever you do, don't run."

When you ask,"Why?" they respond, "Food runs."

Seven Machos said...

If you manage a park, you make it safe for humans or you keep them out.

What? Huh?

How do you propose to do this?

PatCA said...

Seven, I don't propose anything--I'm a civilian. And if there is a chance a bear will kill you is it really a "park" or is it a zoo with no walls?

They need to keep the wildlife away from the people, and vice versa, or train the people in wilderness prep and possibly arm them.

Seven Machos said...

Pat -- You are simply not using the word park correctly. These are huge, huge, huge places with no people around and all manner of wildlife and vegetation and danger.

That's the point of the thing nature: -- to have places that are manifestly not civilized.

Probably you shouldn't go.

george said...

I would pay a fair sum of money to hear what our ancestors would have to say about humans provoking a bear and getting what they deserve.

It takes a special sort of self-loathing and devaluation of human life that seems to be unique to our age for someone to have such an attitude.

Mary Martha said...

I just spent a week in Glacier and laughed at the very contradictory advice given for bear encounters.


When I saw a bear (black bear) I was lucky to be close enough to get into my car and LEAVE.

jeff said...

The grizzly is just lucky he is a natural born grizzly. Otherwise Mick would be all over him. Over and over and over and over and over again.

Seven Machos said...

George -- Nobody's saying anybody got what they deserve. The argument is that bears are the kinds of animals that kill people and they are out there, doing their bear thing. Like sharks and really angry wolverines.

It's not illegal for a bear to kill a human. Think about that.

Fred4Pres said...

The fact that you are in a park where you can be killed by the wildlife lends itself to the experience.

If you want a great read, try Death In Yellowstone. My wife got it to get the kids cautious, but we found it to be one of the best collection of Darwin Awards ever. From driving off the edge of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, to multiple versions of diving into hot sprints, to bison encounters, and even a few bear related deaths (which are actually pretty rare at Yellowstone).

I highly recommend it.

And when I am fishing on some stream in Alaska alone I do carry a .45. When I am hiking in Glacier and Yellowstone I do not (although if I had a Montana/Wyoming CCP I might if I were back country).

Fred4Pres said...

I personally think that the park should lean to shooting bears that kill (sows with cubs excepted, because they have a reason to attack). But you have to do it case by case.

Grizzly bears during the Lewis and Clark expedition were reported to be amazingly agressive and combative. The party faced numerous near fatal (to human) encounters with bears who chased and attacked them. They report shooting them several times with .50 cal. rifles and the bears still attacking. The shooting of bears like that over the years has changed the species. Bears are less agressive now. We shot the agressive ones.

Seven Machos said...

I have no problem shooting bears. That's what we do. I also have no problem with bears attacking humans. That's what bears do.

It would be better if there were no bear attacks, but that's simply not possible as long as there are bears.

Roping off wilderness areas from humans who want to go there presents untenable liberty issues.

EDH said...

They should appoint bears to the "death panels."

Kirby Olson said...

I don't think animals can understand symbols. I don't think a bear could understand that one person is a president and another is the vice president, and yet another is the Secretary of the Treasury, or that one person is a Democrat and another a Republican. The most animals can seem to understand is that they will either eat you or you will eat them. I don't think they can think past this demarcation. I guess some people are like that, which is why we call them animals. Loan sharks, for instance.

ooonaughtykitty said...

Well, first of all ... it's Fall.
The bears are doing their major food consumption right now. If you happen to be between a Bear and its favorite berry bush.... you're in trouble.

My suggestion is NOT to blame or accuse the Bear of wrong doing... but yourself for NOT UNDERSTANDING what is happening around you.

For instance ... if you were a fly fisherman and wanted to catch fish, you would observe what type of insect is hatching or flying around at the time, and adjust your lure to accommodate your success. Why not do the same for a hike?

To view wild life in it's true occurrence is close to what John Muir envisioned for all us. That we, as humans would be replenished by our exposure to such and gain a better understanding of our own existence.

Any time anyone goes into a National Park we are there as guests of the TRUE occupants and should understand our own insignificance.
We should yield to those inhabitants that are endemic, or at least understand what we're dealing with and be prepared.

Fred4Pres said...

Seven Machos, we want wilderness to feel alive. A bit of danger is part of that.

I do not do foolish reckless things, but I do take reasoned chances. I fish in Alaska on rivers, but I am damn sure to pay attention for bears all the time. No guarantees, I could end up like that stupid idiot Tredwell, but so far so good. When I see a bear, I back away slowly.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

@Fred4Pres

Read about the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. The thrust of it was to transfer ownership of federal lands to native associations as reparation for treaty violations. Certain lands were held in trust until the various native associations decided how much of their settlement they wanted in cash, how much in land, and where the land would be located. Once the native associations had finished settling, the balance of the land was to be divided between the Feds and the state of Alaska. The state and the Feds could not come to an agreement on who should get what, but the Feds could not claim the land outright. So Carter said, "Fuck you, Alaska" and created several national monuments by executive order. The federal government has always run roughshod over the people of Alaska. The Greenpeace types think the whole state is a national park. People live there, though, and feel they have a right to make a living without having to check in with the rangers.

Fred4Pres said...

Jeff, I like Mick's hedgehogishness, but that was pretty funny.

Mick for SCOTUS.

Fred4Pres said...

Tyrone, yeah Carter screwed them, but the truth Alaska belongs to all Americans. If it makes you feel better, I would open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling.

Synova said...

Bears are predators.

Humans are predators.

To "provoke" a bear (or other predator) you run away, act like prey, and they instinctively know that you are acting like food and react to that truth that you are food.

So we're told to act like not-food. To make ourselves appear larger, to back away slowly enough that we do not trigger a "it runs! it is food!" reaction.

I don't know why more people don't understand that humans are predators, too, and if you act like prey the instinct is to attack you more. But we're told that boldness is provoking and that we ought to make ourselves seem not-a-threat.

To quote a skinny Steve Rodgers "You start running they'll never let you stop."

Gene said...

One thing I know for sure this widow is going to sue the Park Service for suggesting that her husband's panicky reaction had anything to do with the bear attack.

Fred4Pres said...

Synova, correct. But if a moose is after you--Run!

Fred4Pres said...

Lawsuit

and they shot the goat!

Seven Machos said...

Gene -- I'm going to go wager that sovereign immunity absolutely prevents any lawsuit against the park service. There's a strong assumption of risk when you enter a national park.

Slander or libel perhaps, but even then it would only be against the individuals who spoke.

Could be wrong. Probably not.

Kirk Parker said...

Fred4Pres,

Open carry is completely legal in both MT and WY, so you don't need a permit to carry if you can do it openly. In addition, MT honors permits from 40 other states, and WY from 33, so you may be good to go already anyway.

Synova said...

"Synova, correct. But if a moose is after you--Run!"

Mooses are an entirely different creature.

And obviously, if they weren't going to stomp you, running away will not trigger a "stomp it, quick, before it escapes!" reaction.

If it already decided to stomp you, you might be out of luck.

Fred4Pres said...

Seven Machos, you can sue the feds but my understanding is it is very difficult to win a civil suit like this. Plus it will be in federal court.

My prediction. Fail on the part of the plaintiffs.

Goats generally get no respect. Still, the goat is the symbol of Glacier, not the bear.

Seven Machos said...

Fred -- Sovereign immunity is a doctrine where the State only can be sued when the State allows people to sue it. I just cannot believe that the State allows itself to be sued when bears attack humans in national parks where bears live.

Fred4Pres said...

SM, I am sure the federal government waived SI (otherwise the lawsuit would be over immediately). That said, I doubt a federal court is going to hold the government liable for a goat goring a tourist.

But you never know, it might go to a jury.

Roger J. said...

I am a veteran of 8 canoe trips in northern saskatchewan. My rule is to avoid encounters with bears--black bears are the main ones in N sask. We once paddled into a cove looking for a portage to a remote lake--we spooked a couple of bear cubs when we approached. Knowing that a cub is not without a mama bear nearby, we turned around and left the area. An encounter with a sow is not a good thing.

viator said...

Wildlife trump humans everywhere. In my area dead deer litter the roads, each a little memorial to a deer/car accident costing at the minimum $2000. Sometimes far more. A friend of mine was driving in NJ when a deer went through the windshield of a car in the opposite lane killing the driver and causing a multi-car accident with several serious injuries. Humans have no recourse as state power protects the wildlife.

In NJ black bears break into houses for food and shelter. So far NJ traps and relocates these bears. Can NJ continues this expense?

As deer decimate yards and act a disease vector the human/wildlife interface is becoming a contentious political issue in some towns near me.

No Name said...

and sweat is just gravy to the bear

PatCA said...

george, I agree, this elevation of wildlife to almost sacred status bespeaks human self-loathing. We have gone from protecting endangered species to privileging wildlife over human or domestic animal life.

Alcuria said...

Fred4Pres said...

"Goats generally get no respect."

If it is in the fall and a wild male goat or sheep is in the area, I'm not going to be. They're seasonal breeders like deer; the fall is prime breeding season.

I've had 250-275 Suffolk rams that are docile as can be in the summer that will try and ram you up against a fence panel in the fall. The drive to mate is going to overpower him liking to get his head scratched a few weeks prior. And these are domesticated animals.

BarryD said...

I'm a hunter and a conservationist, and I have a degree in Population Bio. I have no special moral nor scientific objection to shooting wildlife. I eat wild game, but I also find joy in watching songbirds in my yard, raising their young, and in the wild through binoculars.

I've never had to kill a wild animal in self defense, though I have had a gun pointed at a rattlesnake that was coiled up and ready to strike. I backed up, it backed off, and I put the gun away. There was no need to shoot it, so I didn't. It's a valuable part of the ecosystem, and it was interesting to see it up close, too.

All told, I see no reason for the rule that, if an animal kills a person, we have to hunt it down and kill it. If it poses an inordinate threat to humans in the future, by all means, kill it before it kills again. But at the same time, you can't preserve an endangered species by hunting them down and killing them for some sort of misguided revenge.

Whatever asininity the Park Service might be guilty of, in this case, I'll defer to their judgment. It doesn't sound off-base, to me.

I am sorry that a man was killed. I think that was a function of urbanized Americans viewing "nature" as if it's some sort of museum. It's not pristine. It's not static. It's not always pretty. It's Evolution at work.

Oligonicella said...

PatCA --

"I hate these arguments. If you manage a park, you make it safe for humans or you keep them out. Or is their goal to cull the human herd?"

No. Give me the reason you want to prevent me from visiting a Wildlife Park in which all animals have not been rendered non-wild. It's my risk.

mariner said...

She should have screamed, "Rape!" Then authorities wouldn't be blaming the victim.

jeast said...

A friend and I on his first visit to Wyoming was astonished that there were no fences to keep people from falling off giant cliffs and gorges. He is from out east where most of the "lookouts" have fences to protect idiots from themselves. While fishing in Wyoming, he asked me why I was being so loud all the time hollering etc. I told him so as to let bears know I am around. We then discussed what to do if a bear made an attack. I said I wasn't worried, he asked why...I said because I am faster than you. Seriously though, we both had handguns. It is only natural, just like the bear...that I defend myself appropriate to the occasion.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trooper York said...

When we first began to chronicle the lives of the Berenstain bears we had no idea of the strange path the story would go. We thought we would be seeing them live their lives in peace and harmony while learning lessons from Papa Bear at the Shabbos table. Little did we know that Brother Bear was in fact the most infamous serial killing bear in the history of Jellystone park. He was weird. After he would come home from his job at the Post office he would sit in his room and listen to Black Sabbeth records and smoke funny cigarettes. And he was very attached to our neighbor's Boo Boos dog. It was almost like the dog was telling him what do. Strange things started to happen on the hiking trails of Jellystone. Young girls with long brown hair were starting to disappear with their dates. It was very strange.
(Stan and Jan Berenstain "Son of Boo Boo", The E True Hollywood Story of the Berenstain Bears)

Amartel said...

No, we are not "guests" at Yellowstone. It's our park, we cultivated it. We invite people to visit. Predictably, not all people know to not "act like prey," and unless you've actually encountered a grizzly bear, you don't really know what you'd do either. No one is "blaming" the bear for acting like a bear. The discussion is about how the Park Service, OUR agents, should react. I figured there would be arguments about government immunity but IF (if, if, if) the Park Service is turning lose known human-killers in the Park, I'm not sure it would or should apply. But mainly I was cheesed about that headline. Provoking.

Amartel said...

Also when people talk about humanity like it's not part of the environment, like we all got beamed in from plasticland or something, I start wishing a provoked bear would wander by and reacquaint them with the cycle of life.