Posted by: greentangle | August 8, 2015

More BS from NPS

A hiker has been killed and partially eaten by a grizzly mother with at least one cub in Yellowstone. The man worked for the medical clinics in the park and he was killed near a trail in the Lake area which he frequented, so I assume he worked at the Lake clinic and that I probably didn’t know him though he would have been in the park when I still worked there.

He apparently was not carrying bear spray so bad on him. Regardless, one thing I feel quite sure of is that none of us who chose to hike alone in the park, including him, me, and many other friends, would want the bear killed in these circumstances. Someone who wrote that she knew him has already verified that on the park’s Facebook page.

Unfortunately, the park does plan to kill the bears if they’re captured. To quote from the news release,

“We may not be able to conclusively determine the circumstances of this bear attack, but we will not risk public safety.”

In other words, it doesn’t matter if the bear was spooked by the hiker and protecting her cub (most likely) or if it was a predatory attack (only slightly more likely than that the volcano will blow while you’re visiting, but it has happened), we’re gonna kill the bears.

But not risking public safety? The bison who’ve attacked five people this summer haven’t been killed, there’s no limit on the number of automobiles allowed which kill more people in the park than all the wildlife and natural features, there isn’t a big fence keeping people from falling into the canyon, and rangers are nowhere near aggressive enough in punishing the hundreds of thousands of people who harass wildlife and walk off boardwalks in thermal areas every year. And yeah, it was a long time ago, but the book I recently read about the 1988 fires, written by someone working there for NPS at the time, claimed people in the park were definitely endangered by choices NPS made then.

Which is OK in a way because risking one’s safety is exactly what should be happening in places like Yellowstone. Despite the NPS catering to the lowest common human denominator, and boosting cell phone coverage and adding a fucking business center in the remodeled Lake Hotel, it’s not an amusement park. Stupidity and carelessness can still kill you, as it should, and sometimes even if you do everything right, you’ll still die there.

So don’t buy the crap about we can’t risk public safety or that once a bear tastes a human it just won’t be able to resist us because we’re so delicious–most NPS employees know the bears shouldn’t be killed. Like most things which happen in Yellowstone (like the rest of the human world), this is about politics and economics and fear of lawsuits, not ecology or science.

 Back to the Facebook page — — there are over 500 comments at this point (I’m sure there are many more hundreds to come), a mix of intelligence and ignorance and divergent values which almost made me join so I could comment. Take a look and see how many you can read before getting furious. There are macho gunslingers and wildlife haters, and the most dangerous humans of all, the ones who truly want to eliminate risk in Yellowstone and are incapable of understanding anyone who would choose to hike there when they could just see it from their cars instead.  There’s at least one comment worth reading–a long one from the piano player at Mammoth about the grizzly attack he experienced there many years ago.

Adding link to Doug Peacock’s opinion.



  1. Kia ora GT…I agree with your thoughts. From all I could gather the man killed would as well. Seems like so many want these wild animals to be be just like the cartoon characters from Lion King or Ice Age…

  2. Hi, Robb. This has been an interesting situation because of the large outpouring of public support for the bears, especially in comments on the park’s Facebook page. I think the park was taken by surprise and some of the replies from park spokespeople have been hard to believe. I expect to write more on the whole subject when the heat (tied a record yesterday) and humidity break and let my brain function again.


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