A grizzly bear in Hayden Valley, WY. The best way to protect bears like this is to respect their habitat and keep your distance. Andrew Wells photo.
Yellowstone National Park reported yesterday that rangers caught the bear suspected to be involved in the park's first fatal attack since 2011.
The internet is on fire with opinions.
If you aren't already plugged into the debate, some of the top comments on articles posted to Facebook will get you up to speed on the controversy:
Darwin at work.
Why euthanize the bear for being......a bear?
Our parks are for recreation. What if this had been a family or a child? People seem to have less sympathy for adults, animals don't take precedence over humans.
What? Really, a bear in a national park? Strange!
So, Yellowstone...Did you kill or trap and move the buffalo who have gorged or tossed mindless tourists and their selfie sticks? Nope. Those same dangerous photo hating buffalo are still out there, running loose.
Are you not allowed to carry a pistol in Yellowstone?
And, what everyone is wondering:
That's just wrong. Why does the bear have to be put down???
Good question. Here at TGR, we are saddened by the loss of both human and animal life. Although Lance Crosby, identified yesterday as the victim, was known to be an "experienced hiker," he also put himself in a dangerous position by hiking alone, off-trail, without bear spray, in bear country. There are inherent risks in such an activity. Grizzly bears don't differentiate between someone who lived and worked in the park for five years and someone who is simply in their territory.
Putting down the mother bear, and potentially her cubs, is tragic. But it's also important to understand where our friends over at Yellowstone National Park are coming from.
A press release from the park on August 8th outlines the facts and the process very clearly. The victim's body was found "partially consumed and cached, or covered" off trail (suggesting predatory, not completely defensive, behavior and the intent to return and continuing feeding) and had defensive wounds on his forearms. Partial tracks found at the scene indicate an adult female grizzly and at least one cub to be involved in the incident. Wildlife biologists gathered evidence for bear DNA recovery, and if the trapped bear's DNA and tracks match those at the scene, it will have to be euthanized.
Welcome to Yellowstone National Park, not zoo. Kylie Mohr photo.
"The decision to euthanize a bear is one that we do not take lightly. As park managers, we are constantly working to strike a balance between the preservation of park resources and the safety of our park visitors and employees,” said Dan Wenk, superintendent of Yellowstone National Park, in a statement on August 10. “Our decision is based on the totality of the circumstances in this unfortunate event. Yellowstone has had a grizzly bear management program since 1983. The primary goals of this program are to minimize bear-human interactions, prevent human-caused displacement of bears from prime food sources, and to decrease the risk of bear-caused human injuries.”
According to the National Park Service, between 674 and 839 grizzly bears are thought to roam the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The best way to protect these bears, and the rest of the wildlife, is to keep your distance. After all, they're wild animals ... not props in your next selfie.
So what do you think is the best course of action for Yellowstone National Park? Killing the bear and cubs that were involved in the attack? Having the bear cubs adopted by a zoo or facility? Implementing an increased bear awareness program? Limiting hiking zones? Let us know your opinion below.
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