Posted by: Bob Payne | August 29, 2011

Bear Watching Mayhem In Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks

There has been a debate raging this summer in the northern Rockies over restrictions placed on how people should be allowed to observe wildlife in national parks. Given the enormous popularity of two mother grizzly bears and cubs in Grand Teton National Park—and huge crowds gathered along the roadside—stipulations were put in place that require people to stay at least 100 yards away from bruins at all times.



  1. A good idea given that most tourists to Yellowstone and GTNP are so unaware of the dangers that these animals pose to them. Yellowstone and GNTP are not zoos, which many tourists don’t understand. People have been gored by bison, mistakenly assuming they are “slow and docile.” In years past, I know tourists who have, unbelievably, smeared honey on their children to get a photo of their child being licked by a black bear. Grizzlies aren’t predictable either. It’s a constant battle for the rangers in the NP system to reign tourists in as it is to protect them from themselves. And the costs to an already strapped NP system for search and rescue, or having to track down a bear that attacks a tourist takes important dollars away from the management of the park.

    This “park regulation” won’t stop even the most persistent, ignorant, and stubborn (and they’ll be the first to try and sue when something goes all wrong). You could have that kind of experience of getting close to grizzlies (and mtn. lions, bison, black bears, wolves, and elk) in the backcountry, but tourists can’t expect the NPS so rescue them. These are wildlands afterall.

  2. I’ve seen crowds of camera-bearing tourists all-but trample the “do not approach the bison” signs in yellowstone while moving in to get their close-ups.

    sorry for not knowing, but does anyone keep accurate records of attacks caused by this kind of crowding?

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