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Yellowstone Bear Tragedy

Yellowstone Bear Tragedy

By now you may have already heard about the grizzly bear attack and death of a hiker in Yellowstone. The man who died and his wife were hiking in an area where there was a mother grizzly bear with two cubs. It is well known that mother grizzlies fiercely defend their cubs from any animal or person who gets too close, but what is too close? The man and his wife were hiking the Wapiti Lake trail and surprised the bear. Surprising wild bears is believed to invoke their attack mode, which sounds very obvious now, but many people don’t know this fact.

The National Park Service website says, “The vast majority of bear attacks have occurred because people have surprised a bear. In this type of situation the bear may attack as a defensive maneuver.”  One of the key activities when walking through bear country is to make noise constantly so you don’t surprise them if you get close accidentally. Talking, singing, clapping, even wearing bells on a backpack or shoes could all be used, if they are loud. A government website for Alberta, Canada lists several noise makers such as air horns and pen launchers.

In dense brush or near rushing water a bear may not hear your noises. It may be better to try to avoid such areas if you know there are wild bears there.

Often when a bear bites and scratches a person, and it is reported, the bear is killed by officials or captured and relocated to wild areas far from people. In this case, the mother bear has not been killed because it was determined she was only defending her cubs, and that is normal behavior for a mother bear.

The National Park Service said the recent tragedy is the first human fatality due to a bear mauling in Yellowstone since 1986.  One fatality, also due to a mother grizzly bear, was recorded last year near the park, but not inside. Yellowstone National Park has between 3.6 and 4.3 million visitors per year.  The number of human-bear conflicts there is extremely small compared with the number of tourists.

Image Credit: Mila Zinkova

Related Links

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Read more: General Health, Nature & Wildlife, News & Issues, Wildlife

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114 comments

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7:08AM PDT on Apr 4, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

7:09AM PST on Nov 9, 2011

very sad

9:47AM PDT on Oct 6, 2011

http://blogs.sparenot.com/godsmacks/2011/08/30/another-grizzly-bear-attack/ stop killing god's bears

7:37PM PDT on Aug 29, 2011

People should be more careful when in another animal's domain.

10:38AM PDT on Aug 24, 2011

Such a tragic story.

6:25AM PDT on Aug 1, 2011

I feel sorry for his family but I don't understand why people are allowed where they know bears are. They know these people don't know anything anout bears but yet they want them to vacation where they are.

11:06AM PDT on Jul 30, 2011

It is the fault of people. If a bear enters the property of peopel they are killed, and when people INVADE the bears home, why is it different. If people cannot fallow the basic rules, they should be
kept away from bear or any other animal country.

10:15AM PDT on Jul 29, 2011

Very sad news and my condolences to the family. I have read other news and hikers were on the trail, not wondering around off the trail. It is good to know that the mother bear is not killed. We all have to respect the mother nature and every living things... we are the one created roads and houses in their territories. I was just at Yellowstone last week and saw a bison rolling around scratching his back on the side of the road. And then saw bunch of people getting off their cars to take pictures. Even saw one couple with small child (3-4 yrs old). Now that's plain stupid and they should know better.

7:29AM PDT on Jul 29, 2011

Its a shame the hikers wre attacked, but the mother was only defending her cubs. I'm glad the mother bear wasn't killed. Humans are known to take up arms for revenge of an animal and human confrontation. Remember Steve Irwin the Crock hunter when he was killed by a stingray, people started to kill every stingray for revenge.

7:14AM PDT on Jul 28, 2011

This was nobody's fault...the bears or the hikers, however it was a very unfortunate accident. Sometimes things like this can't be helped, but education on bears and other predators can make the woods safer for everyone (i.e. bear spray, sidearm in order to fire a warning shot, etc.)

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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