Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » Another death in Yellowstone attributed to a grizzly


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Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Another death in Yellowstone attributed to a grizzly on 08/29/2011 11:37:47 MDT Print View

Sorry if this was already posted:

http://news.yahoo.com/michigan-man-killed-grizzly-yellowstone-161707907.html

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Weapons... on 08/30/2011 15:59:30 MDT Print View

Once again, I'd bet the guy may have survived if he'd had a magnum handgun in .44 mag. or better. .357 S&W just won't cut it W/O a perfect shot.

Pilate de Guerre
(deGuerre) - F

Locale: SE, USA
Bears are scary on 08/30/2011 16:37:32 MDT Print View

Bears are scary.

My thoughts are with John Wallace's family.

Jonathan Foley
(jfelectron)
Guns not as effective as bearspray on 08/30/2011 17:22:30 MDT Print View

I don't have access to the data at the moment, but numerous studies have confirmed that bearspray is more effective than a handgun in stopping an attacking grizzly. How quickly can you accurately unload 4-6 shots into a grizzly that is charging you at 30+mph? Unless you are very skilled with a handgun, the answer is not very effectively. Bearspray by contrast when used at the appropriate range is far less skill intensive and likely for this reason has proven more effective in reducing the chance of fatality in a a grizzly encounter. Don't take my word for it, ask Skurka or Erin and Hig whether they carry a gun or bearspray and why. They all carry bearspray.

Edited by jfelectron on 08/30/2011 17:23:58 MDT.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
kidding. on 08/30/2011 17:25:39 MDT Print View

Maybe Eric actually prefers bear spray, and was simply trying to inject the word "GUN" into every single thread at BPL today?

Also, if we have to shoot bears left and right in Yellowstone to protect ourselves while camping, perhaps we need to rethink our camping, not rethink our weaponry.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Re: kidding. on 08/31/2011 12:34:52 MDT Print View

I think the big issue in yellowstone this year and actually thoughout the rockies is the crazy snowfall we got last winter. In Banff mid-July was like early June, this leads to more bears being lower down in the Valleys before the snow melts and the vegatation is edible in the higher areas.

This has led to more bear encounters during the tourist high season.

One big lesson to take from this though is to be careful when you are hiking solo. Bears rarely attack large groups. (The Alaska case was not a large group when the attack occured as the person was on his own while the rest of the group was still crossing a river) So where possible go in a group and when that is not possible follow good food hygene and carry something to protect yourself that you have practiced with before.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
sad... on 08/31/2011 13:04:44 MDT Print View

Just another sad reminder that we are not always the king of the hill.

Killing bears that kill people probably won't fix much, especially because authorities admit that they're trying to kill it to "err on the side of caution." People assume it's the bear's fault. In no way am I trying to lay blame on the victim here, but what about erring on the side of caution by bringing bear spray? Or hiking in not so bear-populated areas? Or hiking within a group? It will continue to happen from time to time as long as we continue to enter the bears' habitat, and I'm not so sure we should penalize nature because of it.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Another death in Yellowstone attributed to a grizzly" on 08/31/2011 13:09:54 MDT Print View

Wow, that is unfortunate and sad.


"Also, if we have to shoot bears left and right in Yellowstone to protect ourselves while camping, perhaps we need to rethink our camping, not rethink our weaponry."

Spot on Dave, my thoughts exactly. To think that one's safety is increased by yielding a larger caliber firearm is asinine.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: "Another death in Yellowstone attributed to a grizzly" on 08/31/2011 13:14:18 MDT Print View

"To think that one's safety is increased by yielding a larger caliber firearm is asinine."


But...but...I just got a new titanium and carbon fiber bazooka for backpacking!

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: "Another death in Yellowstone attributed to a grizzly" on 08/31/2011 13:26:29 MDT Print View

Isn't Titanium Goat coming out with that ultralight bazooka?...kidding

Claudia Garren
(spirit4earth) - F

Locale: North Carolina
bear country on 08/31/2011 13:43:58 MDT Print View

It's the bears' land. They have to have places where we won't interfere, and if we want to hike in those places, carry bear spray.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Another death in Yellowstone attributed to a grizzly on 08/31/2011 13:54:04 MDT Print View

Bear population is exploding. What happens when there is no area left without a large population of bears? Don't think that can't happen, it's happening now.

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Bear populations on 08/31/2011 14:18:01 MDT Print View

When the griz populations get high enough outside the parks Im sure you will see a hunting season open up. BTW we dont get any wandering into Iowa. Maybe a few black bears from minnesota now and then :^) So how much of a % in increase has there been in grizzley territory Joe

Edited by mtmnmark on 08/31/2011 14:22:50 MDT.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Grizzlies on 08/31/2011 14:40:49 MDT Print View

I like griz as much as anyone else here, as I firmly believe that their presence defines true wilderness. We must make a serious effort to ensure that they always have a place to live, and to thrive. I also am a proponent of carrying pepper spray.

However, there is another consideration that is seldom being discussed. In the two most significant Lower 48 grizzly habitats, the Greater Yellowstone and the Northern Continental Divide ecosystems, the grizzly populations have been increasing at a fairly healthy rate over the past 30 years. As this occurs, there becomes less and less room for each bear, and they must roam further and further toward, and even across, the protected perimeter to find food. This means that ranchers outside the wilderness are having confrontations with grizzly bears. Occasionally a sheep or calf is killed by a bear for food.

In my small home town of Choteau, Montana, which is situated 15 crow-fly miles east of the Rocky Mountain Front (behind which lies the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area), there have recently been griz sightings on the edge of town. So far, it seems that the griz/civilization issue has been managed reasonably well. But with the ever-increasing bear population, it seems inevitable that there will be an increase in bad-outcome encounters between bears and humans. Grizzlies were originally a plains animal, until white men settled the land for ranching and farming, which forced the bruins up into the relative safety of the mountains. It's only natural that they would return to the plains in times of crowded mountain conditions.

I don't have a solid solution in mind. I'm hoping that the wilderness managers do, and that they act before it is too late. One thought I have, and one that is shared by several of my anonymous Park Ranger pals in both Glacier and Yellowstone, is to occasionally cull the herd. Have a limited hunting season from time to time. This would increase the relative amount of room per bear, and it would also serve to let the bears know to not mess with people (like it was 100 years ago).

I truly have sympathy for the friends and family of the two Yellowstone victims of griz maulings. But I don't at all buy into the Yellowstone official statement that the Wapiti mauling was a natural event, where the sow was protecting her cubs. That bear charged from 100 yards away, when the couple was not an immediate threat to the cubs. That bear should not be given a chance to repeat the event. I believe that if there is any doubt, take the bear out. There are plenty of bears, actually, and the mountains belong to humans as well as the bears.

Hope I didn't step on any toes here, I just wanted to point out another consideration regarding bears.

Edit-I took so long to write my diatribe that Joe and Mark beat me in defining the concept.

Edited by Zia-Grill-Guy on 08/31/2011 14:45:37 MDT.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Griz population increase on 08/31/2011 16:14:22 MDT Print View

Mark, it's hard to figure out just how fast the grizzly populations of YNP and GNP have increased. I did some quick googling, and I came up with this:

YELLOWSTONE NP
1967--The Craighead brothers estimated that Yellowstone had 174 grizzlies.
There was a population crash during the 60s and 70s, not sure what the reason was. But the YNP bear population increased quickly in the 80s, as the ungulate population (elk and bison, primarily, which griz kill and eat) increased dramatically.

1975-An estimated 200 griz
2011-An estimated 600

GLACIER NP
1975--An ex-park ranger told me in July that there were 200 grizzlies in GNP in 1975,
whereas they estimate there are 300 now.

The GNP figures are just part of the numbers for the entire Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, of course. The estimates for the NCDE were 765 in 2004 vs. 900 in 2011( a 17% increase in just 7 years!). I suspect that most of the NCDE bears live within the Bob Marshall/Scapegoat Wilderness area.

Sorry I couldn't come up with a nice graph on all this, but I think it gives you an idea of how fast the population has grown in those two ecosystems. Keep in mind that there are all sorts of factors that are involved in the population numbers. For example, both parks closed their open pit garbage dumps in the late 60s. So, especially in YNP, the bears took to hanging aroung campgrounds to get their "human food." This necessitated removal of a number of bears, which reduced the official bear count. Then there is the issue of declining numbers of elk and bison in YNP in the 60s-70s (food scarcity for the bears), which for some reason quickly reversed itself in the 80s.

Maybe this is too much information...?

Claudia Garren
(spirit4earth) - F

Locale: North Carolina
corridors on 08/31/2011 16:24:12 MDT Print View

The bears, and other animals, need corridors to give them space to travel from Wyoming up into Canada. Sure, an occasional cow or sheep will be eaten, but perhaps the elk are over-hunted? I don't know if they, but I do believe that this planet consists of a system where are all parts are important. Humans are the most harmful and damaging to the bigger picture.
It's a conundrum, trying to figure out what to do.

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
WOW on 09/01/2011 14:02:57 MDT Print View

Thanks Gary I had no idea how fast the population was increasing, I used to keep up on this stuff. I imagine that with the wolf population growing that the scavaging is getting tougher for the bears also as well as they may be a threat to cubs and keep the sows a little more on edge.I would have thought the wolves would have cut the number of bears. The last actual figures I saw I thought glacier had YSNP beat in numbers and then I thought the numbers in glacier was around 220 and decreasing

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Griz and wolves on 09/01/2011 14:27:51 MDT Print View

Mark, I don't think that the YNP or GNP wolves pose much of a direct physical threat to the grizzlies. While it's probably true that a coordinated pack of wolves could take a big bear, I expect that they would choose not to. The griz will usually win, or at least mess up a few wolves and cause the others to call off the fight. The usual reason for confrontation seems to be a griz trying to take over the wolves' kill. Most often, the wolves just let the bear have it. In YNP (but less so in GNP), there are plentiful food sources (deer, elk, and bison), and neither predator needs to compete much with the other.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Wolves eat bear cubs. on 09/01/2011 15:42:29 MDT Print View

Wolves do eat bear cubs, just like they do bison, they will harass a sow with cubs for days till they win due to the bear's exhaustion. They also will eat hibernating bears.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Wolves eat bear cubs on 09/01/2011 16:21:41 MDT Print View

You are right, David. Wolves will go after anything that they think they can take. It would be interesting to know just how many bear cubs are taken out that way. Maybe more than I think.