The news is bent on sensationalism whenever something out of the ordinary occurs. A few nights ago, a man from Michigan was dragged from his tent and eaten. Two others were also bitten by a sow grizzly in a campsite just outside the Park. The sow has three cubs with her and since the incident was captured and her fate is to be determined by a DNA test. If positive she will be killed and her cubs too if there is a possibility they participated in the attack. It is sad for all involved. The news makes it sound as if the grizzly are on a rampage through the Park in herds looking for the next human they find. First of all, the main food source for bears is not meat but a variety of plants and berries. Second of all, they put the number of grizzlies far higher than their actual numbers. The behavior of that sow that led to the killing is rare. We still do not know why it happened, but in a likelihood, she had found human food or was fed in the preceding days. Cooke City, the nearest town to the camp, is renowned for people feeding wildlife, and although blame cannot be put upon them or the Forest Service, they still have been breaking rules of common sense for years. The bears were here long before them. Nobody forced the man from Michigan to camp where he did. We need to develop greater respect for this part of the country when it comes to terrain and wildlife. Too many have died over the years by acts of ignorance and stupidity. Nothing has changed after this deadly bear attack. The rules are still the same and the treatment of the wildlife will remain at status quo. Let it be a wake up call for all the fools who think it is ok to approach the wildlife and feed them to get a good photo. Let it be a lesson and let us not forget the awesome power of the grizzly bear.
The three of us journeyed from the Soda Butte Lamar confluence to enjoy a night of rain, cold, and fear of bear attack. It was fine, except for the forgotten sleeping bag that kept me on edge all night. In the morning a herd of bison stampeded across our site. We returned and all was well.
Bison or buffalo, both mean the same, weigh up to 2000 lbs. and can still run 30 miles per hour. Poachers and angry ranchers have done all they can to destroy the remaining population. They say brucellosis, a disease spread by ungulates, justifies the slaughter of any buffalo that leaves the Park. Before the mid 1800s 30 to 60 million may have roamed through North America. Today in Yellowstone, there are approximately 3,300. Just the other day, a visitor was video taping a buffalo at rest and did something very foolish. In an apparent attempt to get the buffalo to move a rock was thrown at it. The buffalo did what it was justified to do which was charge the woman and flip her into the air. She survived and hopefully learned a lesson in common sense. The CNN story was titled along the lines of, “What not to do in Yellowstone.”
The Yellowstone bears are fascinating but deserve our respect and apprehension of their power and vulnerability. Grizzly are no longer in the lower 48, except for Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. There are fewer than 200 in Yellowstone but are living well in paradise. The difficulty is to manage the nearly 3 million visitors and keep them safe and the bears flourishing. The black bear is not as ferocious but still is a deadly beast that can handle a human of any size and quickness. They represent the ideals of wilderness and must be protected from those who want to shoot every last living creature they can. They must survive so this country can still have a frontier of the mind and we as a society can still be American.
Sue and I forded the Hellroaring Creek to the back country patrol cabin. It was dark but quiet. After figuring out the lanterns, we read from the log entries from the 60’s. A visitor spooked us in the morning and then we headed out to explore some better views around the Park.