Smithsonian Magazine on the Formation of the National Park’s Grizzly Bear Policy

Smithsonian Magazine has an article about the incidents leading up to the National Park Service’s treatment of grizzly bears. These incidents changed Park policy forever.

Glacier National Park’s busiest season came to an abrupt halt in the summer of 1967. In a matter of hours, two grizzly bears had acted as they never had before in the park’s 57-year history. Several miles apart, each bear had mauled a young woman on the same day, in the dark, early hours of August 13. Two 19-year-olds, Julie Helgeson, from Minnesota, and Michele Koons, from California, were both asleep under the big sky of northwest Montana, when grizzly bears found them and carried them off.

Detailed in National Park Service reports and Jack Olsen’s 1969 book Night of the Grizzlies, these incidents marked Glacier’s first fatal bear maulings. The shocking attacks ushered in a new era for the National Park Service’s management of bears. In Glacier Park and in other parks nationwide, the lessons of that summer live on in warning signs, rules and policies created to avoid repeating the mistakes that led to tragedy 50 years ago.
[Read Full Article Here]


Live Bear Cam From Katmai NP

Katmai National Park in Alaska has put up a live bear cam (which is presumably more exciting than the dead bear cam) at Brooks Falls to watch bears catch salmon and do other bear-like activities. If there are no bears, there is soothing water fall noises.

You can scroll back to past footage if there is nothing going on presently.

Bison Attack in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Before losing consciousness, a 65-year-old Juneau man remembers taking photos of a bison in Theodore Roosevelt National Park before the animal turned toward him, charged.

According to a park news release, Michael Turk took a late evening hike on the Buckhorn Trail in the park’s north unit on June 30. Turk planned to take photos of the sunset.

Park officials said he gave a bison he encountered a wide berth on his way to the photo location. On his way back to a campground, Turk stopped to photograph another bison, which then charged him.

He woke with a large cut on his left inner thigh and other cuts and bruises. The park said he was able to hike to the trailhead where he saw a third bison. He climbed uphill and called for help.

Seven campers responded to Turk’s calls. When they arrived at the trailhead, they saw a bison between them and Turk who was about 50 yards away. The campers couldn’t scare the bison away until one person fired a handgun into the ground. That convinced the animal to leave.

The campers helped Turk to the trailhead, dressed his wound and drove him toward the park entrance. An ambulance took him to a hospital where he was treated and released.
[Local News Story]

Of course, it’s illegal to fire a weapon in a national park, so the rescuer who fired a shot will no doubt be fined. No good deed goes unpunished, my friends.

Otters Attack Swimmer Near Yellowstone!

OK, this didn’t occur in a National Park, but it’s too awesome to not include. It happened about 45-miles west of Yellowstone’s West Entrance.

A Washington triathlete staying at Cliff Lake in Madison County, Montana, was attacked Tuesday by a pair of otters while swimming, he said.

Stew Larsen, a chemical engineer from Longview, Washington, said Wednesday that he was staying at a resort near the lake south of Ennis for a family reunion when he decided to take advantage of the rare chance for a high-altitude training swim.

“I’ve never swam in a place that’s as wild as this place,” he said.

About 500 yards in to the out-and-back swim, Larsen said, he stopped to check his watch and noticed an otter staring him down from perhaps 10 feet away.

“It wasn’t barking, snapping, anything like that, just looking at me, so I kind of splashed and yelled,” he said.

The critter retreated, so he figured it was just curious and continued his swim.

On his return leg, though, Larsen said, he paused at about the same spot, only to see a pair of otters, even closer. And this time, his splashing didn’t scare them off.

“It didn’t deter them at all that time,” he said — even after he started making a “real commotion,” they closed in.

In the resulting waterborne scuffle, Larsen said he “connected with one of them” and ended up bitten on his right thigh, where an otter’s fangs cut through his wetsuit to draw a bit of blood.

“I had been thinking that if they’re protecting a den, I’d be better off in the middle of the water and away from the shore,” he said, “but I finally figured that if I’m going to be bitten, I need to be on land and I swam with everything that I had left.”

Eventually, he said, he was able to make it to some rocks, where the otters backed off and a relative in a boat was able to make a rescue.
[Local News Story]

Wow! What are the otters of that happening?

They are not as cute as they appear! Although rare, otter attacks have been reported elsewhere.

Nasty, big, pointy teeth!

The otter’s name was not given, as it was not a significant otter.

There is no otter news.

I shall stop there.

Bison Attack Injures Two in Yellowstone

Wednesday morning, June 28, 2017, a married couple received injuries after being “butted” by a bison at Mud Volcano, just north of Lake Village in Yellowstone National Park.

Theodore Schrader, 74, and Patsy Holmes, 72, from Heber City, Utah, were taking photographs on a boardwalk at Mud Volcano, when a bison approached them. The bison butted Mrs. Holmes, who then fell into Mr. Schrader and both individuals fell to the ground.

Park rangers responded immediately and evacuated the couple from the trail, a quarter mile, to the road. The couple was transported to the Lake Clinic.  Mr. Schrader had minor injuries.

Mrs. Holmes was transported by Life Flight to Idaho Falls, Idaho. She was in stable condition. Citations were not issued to either individual.


This is the first confirmed incident of a bison injuring visitors in 2017.
[NPS Story]

At least it doesn’t sound like they were doing anything stupid, just wrong place, wrong time. Hope she’s OK.

Rare White Wolf Shot in Yellowstone

The famous and rare white wolf at the Yellowstone National Park was shot by an unknown gunman between April 3 at 4 a.m. and April 11 at 2 p.m. MDT. The alpha female wolf has been euthanized because of the acuteness of her wounds.

The investigators theorized that someone on the Yellowstone’s north side, possibly near Gardine, Mont., mortally shot the rare white wolf. The hikers found the injured 12-year-old wolf on April 11.

The well-known white wolf is also known as the “Queen of Hayden Valley” white wolf. It was the most famous and photographed pack in the Yellowstone. She was about twice the age of other wolves in the park. She had the same mate for over nine years and had at least 20 pups.

Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk said that with the serious nature of this happening, a reward of up to $5,000 is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for this criminal act. The Wolves of the Rockies, a wolf advocacy organization, also offered another $5,000 for a total of $10,000 that would lead to the information of the shooter.

[NPS Story]

[Local News Story]