2 bears euthanized in Yellowstone National Park, search for third underway

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, WY – Two black bears have been killed in Yellowstone National Park this year and officials are looking for third habituated black bear – all three bears reportedly showed no fear around people after acquiring human food and becoming food-conditioned.

According to park officials, last month, a  black bear bit into an occupied tent and bruised a woman’s thigh (the bite did not break the skin due to the tent fabric and thick sleeping bag)

That incident occurred at a backcountry campsite along Little Cottonwood Creek

Black bear sniffing dumpster near Ice Box Canyon; Jim Peaco; June 14, 2015; Catalog #20152d; Original #IMG_3675

Rangers suspect that this might have been a bear that gained access to human food in this same area in previous years. Over subsequent days, rangers set up cameras and a decoy tent at the campsite to determine if the bear would continue this behavior. With rangers present, the bear returned and aggressively tore up the decoy tent. The bear was killed on-site on June 11.

In early July, at a backcountry campsite along the Lamar River Trail, campers left food unattended while packing up gear allowing a black bear to eat approximately 10 pounds of human food. Campers who visited the same campsite the following evening had numerous encounters with the same bear. Their attempts to haze the bear away failed. Rangers relocated multiple campers from the area and the bear was killed on July 10. The incident is still under investigation.

Since July 18, at the front country Indian Creek Campground, a black bear has caused property damage to tents and vehicles in its search for human food. Park staff actively hazed the bear from the campground, but also set up cameras. If the bear returns, managers will take appropriate actions based on the current circumstances, including additional hazing or removal.

Park staff have had a busy summer responding to bears in campgrounds, backcountry campsites, and along roadsides. Visitors are reminded to stay at least 100 yards away from bears at all times and to store food and scented items properly.

Once a bear acquires human food, it loses its fear of people and may become dangerous. This process is called “habituation.” The park has killed two habituated black bears this year and is trying to capture a third. All three bears exhibited bold behaviors, showed no fear around people, and have demonstrated food-conditioned behavior.

Park officials say these incidents serve as unfortunate reminders that human carelessness doesn’t just endanger people; it can also result in a bear’s death. Allowing bears to obtain human food even once often leads to them becoming aggressive toward people. Learn more about what you can do at go.nps.gov/yellbearsafety [go.nps.gov].

According to officials, Yellowstone National Park does not typically relocate bears for three reasons: 1) there are no areas in the park to move the bear where it wouldn’t have the continued opportunity to potentially injure someone and damage property, 2) surrounding states do not want food-conditioned bears relocated into their jurisdictions, and 3) adult bears have large home ranges, good memories, and could easily return to the original area.

It is common for visitors to observe black bears in Yellowstone. About 50 percent are black in color, others are brown, blond, or cinnamon. Learn more about black bears [nps.gov].

2 thoughts on “2 bears euthanized in Yellowstone National Park, search for third underway

  1. no bear shoudl be shot because of campers. what punishment did the campers get. they shoudl be fined about $250,000 for this. secondly relocating the bears is fine to other states becaues those state allow hunter to put out food to bait bears and that food has human scent on it, so those bears are already habituated. and in fact the yellowstone bers mayh ave moved into yellowstone after being baited in nearby stated where hunters are allowed to bait. this idea that hunters can put out food with human scent is causing this. stop that now and work to get alls tates to bean hunters from being allowed to put out food for bears to bait them to kill them.

  2. I completely agree with Jean. Too easy and cowardly to kill the bear, while tourists (or hunters) continue to behave inappropriately.
    The cause of the problems are not the wild animals, but rather the assholes of humans who behave as if they were the masters of the planet.
    We also share the Earth with other sentient creatures: speciesism and anthropogism are the ruin of our only Home. We see it everywhere, from the cut rainforests to grow food for slaughter animals to satisfy the consumption of meat to those who have not yet understood that we must bring the right respect to every living creature.

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