The female grizzly bear, referred to as the Wapiti sow, killed Brian Matayoshi on July 6, 2011 and then killed John Wallace on August 27, 2011, after officials declined to hunt the bear responsible. The Wapiti sow was finally trapped in late September and euthanized October 2nd after four days of forensic analysis and chin stroking.
Jessica Grose, in Slate, describes how the swift and hearty justice dealt out to man-killing grizzlies in simpler and less-grovelly-toward-Nature times has been replaced by a new intensely ethically conscientious regime that will only kill bears which are deemed to have behaved with “unnatural aggression” or which have been found to have eaten people.
In the bad old days, they knew what to do with man-killing bruins.
The first extensively documented death by grizzly within Yellowstone Parkâ€™s borders was the fatal mauling of 61-year-old government laborer Frank Welch in 1916. And the park’s first extensively documented judicial execution of a grizzly soon followed. Some historians suspect the bear that killed Welch was abnormally ill-tempered because his toes had been ripped off when he escaped from a trap in 1912. Whatever the bearâ€™s motives, though, Welchâ€™s fellow laborers decided that â€œOld Two Toesâ€ deserved to die for his crimes. Men from the road camp where Welch had been working placed some edible garbage in front of a barrel filled with dynamite. When the bear began to eat, they blew it to smithereens.
That was how grizzlies were treated if they injured humans in the early days of Yellowstone: They were killed.
Not today. Today, when Ephraim or Ephraimina takes out a tax paying citizen, there is the equivalent of a judicial procedure. There are major exculpatory loopholes. And even totally guilty bears are put down reluctantly, as big, salty tears pour down the faces of the responsible officials.
Every bear is pwecious, you see.
The euthanization of the bear known as â€œthe Wapiti sowâ€ was the culmination of a series of horrifying events that had gripped Yellowstone for months, and alarmed rangers, visitors, and the conservation biologists tasked with keeping grizzly bears safe. In separate incidents in July and August, grizzlies had killed hikers in Yellowstone, prompting a months-long investigation replete with crime scene reconstructions and DNA analysis, and a furious race to capture the prime suspect. The execution of the Wapiti sow opens a window on a special criminal justice system designed to protect endangered bears and the humans who share their land. It also demonstrates the difficulty of judging animals for crimes against us. The government bear biologists who enforce grizzly law and order grapple with the impossibility of the task every day. In the most painful cases, the people who protect these sublime, endangered animals must also put them to death.
Whenever a grizzly bear commits a crime in the continental United States, Chris Servheen gets a call at his office at the University of Montana in Missoula. Servheen has been the Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for three decades. …
Before Servheen, Gunther, and their bear management colleagues could decide what to do, theyâ€™d need a lot more information. Was a grizzly bear in fact responsible for this second death? If so, which bear did the mauling? And what were the circumstances that led up to attackâ€”was it provoked or had some hiker just been caught unaware? The answers to those questions would determine whether a precious animal would need to die. …
Wildlife biologists like Kerry Gunther help the park’s crime-scene investigators by speculating on a bear’s emotional state. Based on the evidence at hand, he tries to determine whether a given act of bear aggression might have been a natural behaviorâ€”the result of being startled while feeding on an elk carcass, for example, or seeing someone approaching her cubs. If a bear appears to have followed a hiker down the trail instead of backing off, or if it attacked campers while they were asleep, that would be more unusualâ€”the result, perhaps of a deranged grizzly mind.
If you blunder into a bear that is thought to have attacked and killed you out of natural aggression (you violated that bear’s space, dude!) or via an impulse of self defense, that’s just too bad for you. The bear goes free, as long as he refrains from dining on your pitiable remains.
The authorities in question reluctantly draw the line at actual predation, simply because they are afraid of the public response to tolerating man-eaters in National Parks.
The zero-tolerance policy for man-eating bears invites an obvious question, though. Once a bear kills someone, whether it’s out of some wild-animal psychopathy or a natural inclination to defend her young, why wouldn’t she eat the corpse? Everyone agrees that itâ€™s natural for grizzlies to eat carrionâ€”theyâ€™re scavengers, after all. When I ask Servheen whether grizzlies can get “a taste for human blood”â€”whether a grizzly that starts eating people-meat will desire it endlesslyâ€”he dismisses the idea. “Thatâ€™s for horror stories in movies,” he says. “Bears donâ€™t get a taste for human blood. Thereâ€™s no studies that show that.”
No studies show it, in part because every time a bear eats someone, they kill it. Not that itâ€™s something that would ever be studiedâ€”biologists would never want to take the risk of keeping a bear that had eaten a person in the greater bear population. “We donâ€™t want to test whether bears really get a taste for people,â€ Gunther explains. “The public wouldnâ€™t appreciate us using them as subjects.” That’s for horror movies, but it seems like even the bear biologists think there might be some truth to the campfire legends.
The Pope went on vacation for a few days to visit the rugged mountains of Alaska . He was cruising along the campground in the Pope Mobile when he heard a frantic commotion just at the edge of the woods. He found a helpless Democrat wearing shorts, sandals, a Vote for Obama hat and a Save the Trees t-shirt. The man was screaming and struggling frantically, thrashing all about and trying to free himself from the grasp of a 10-foot grizzly bear.
As the Pope watched in horror, a group of Republican loggers wearing Go Sarah shirts came racing up. One quickly fired a 44 Magnum slug right into the bear’s chest. The two other men pulled the semiconscious Democrat from the bear’s grasp. Then using baseball bats, the three loggers finished off the bear. Two of the men dragged the dead grizzly onto the bed of their pickup truck while the other tenderly placed the injured Democrat in the back seat.
As they began to leave, the Pope summoned all of them men over to him. “I give you my blessing for your brave actions!” he proudly proclaimed. “I have heard there was bitter hatred between Republican loggers and Democratic environmental activists, but now I’ve seen with my own eyes that this is not true.”
As the Pope drove off, one logger asked his buddies, “Who the heck was that guy?”
“Dude, that was was the Pope,” another replied. “He’s in direct contact with Heaven and has access to all wisdom.”
“Well,” the logger said, “he may have access to all wisdom, but he doesn’t know squat about bear hunting! By the way, is the bait still alive or do we need to go down to California and get another one?”
An amateur photographer with a habit of driving around inside Yellowstone National Park in his spare time taking shots of wildlife last month encountered a grizzly bear pursuing with intent an injured bison.
The photographs were taken around 7 AM at the Fountain Flats area, located between the Madison Junction and Old Faithful inside the Park.
The unfortunate bison had blundered into one of Yellowstone Park’s hot springs and was badly injured. As events unfolded, the bison managed to outrun the bear, but it was subsequently concluded to be too badly burned to recover and was put down by Park rangers. It seems a pity that the bear lost the race.
It is always a good day for NYM when we are able to add one more dire effect to the Warmlist catalogue.
Julie Cart, at the LA Times, consults the environmental seers who explain that grizzly bear predation on humans in Wyoming and Montana results from Global Warming.
A number of complex factors are believed to be working against grizzlies, including climate change. Milder winters have allowed bark beetles to decimate the white-bark pine, whose nuts are a critical food source for grizzlies. Meanwhile, there has been a slight seasonal shift for plants that grizzlies rely on when they prepare to hibernate and when they emerge in the spring, changing the creatures’ denning habits.
The result, some biologists say, is that bears accustomed to feasting on berries and nuts in remote alpine areas are being pushed into a more meat-dependent diet that puts them on a collision course with the other dominant regional omnivore: humans.
Why would anyone possibly want to carry a weapon in a National Park?
In classic liberal newspaper fashion, the Yellowstone Insider performs some grave chin-stroking over the successful passage of Senator Tom Coburn’s S. Amendment 1067 (Text: pg. 1 — pg. 2, attached to bill H.R. 627 regulating the credit card industry.
Wyoming does indeed have a concealed-carry law — you can see for yourself on the state’s website — and does indeed recognize concealed-carry permits from other states. … However, Wyoming is one of the many states that allows citizens to openly carry a legally registered weapon. …
(T)he fact that Park Rangers must add gun enforcement to their list of duties is not the most desirable of outcomes. Generally speaking, the vast majority of gun owners are responsible citizens. The problem, however, doesn’t lie with responsible gun owners; it lies with irresponsible gun owners, and they, too, exist; there were issues raised by gun owners openly brandishing their weapons during Obama speeches in Arizona and Minnesota this summer, as they went out of their way to openly carry legal semiautomatic weapons in large crowds waiting to see the President. Poaching, too, is still an issue in Yellowstone. And, quite bluntly, we can’t think of many instances in Yellowstone National Park where anyone would need a weapon; we’re not talking about an environment where animal attacks or human crime occurs with any degree of regularity.
In the Daily article, local attorney Kent Spence of Jackson’s Spence Law Firm says he would feel more comfortable camping in the Yellowstone backwoods carrying a weapon capable of taking down a bear, though he admitted pepper spray would be his first line of defense. We’re not so sure every other gun owner would be as comfortable or responsible should a bear attack.
You really have to admire liberal journalistic reasoning in action. Making something legal is alleged to create a new law enforcement responsibility for Park Rangers. Most of us would have supposed that eliminating a potential violation would have the opposite effect.
And you certainly would not want to be “irresponsible” in the event of a grizzly bear attack. Who knows? The indignant bear might sue.
Yes, Pepper Spray is definitely the answer. (Old joke)
I favor the .500 Linebaugh brand of Pepper Spray myself.
A grizzly bear that appeared in a recent Will Ferrell movie killed a 39-year-old trainer with a bite to his neck Tuesday and had to be subdued with pepper spray.
Three experienced handlers were working with the bear at Randy Miller’s Predators in Action facility when the bear bit 39-year-old Stephan Miller on the neck, said San Bernardino County sheriff’s spokeswoman Cindy Beavers. Stephan Miller is Randy’s cousin, she said.
The center’s staff used pepper spray to subdue and contain the bear and there were no other injuries, she said.
A county Fire Department traumatic injury response unit responded about 3 p.m., but could not revive Miller.
The Department of Fish and Game will decide the bear’s fate after an investigation, Tiffany Swantek, a spokeswoman for the Big Bear Sheriff’s Station, told the San Bernardino Sun Tuesday.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Phelps said the bear was a 5-year-old male named Rocky. The Predators in Action Web site says Rocky is 7 1/2 feet tall, weighs 700 pounds and appeared in a scene in “Semi-Pro” in which Will Ferrell’s character wrestles a bear to promote his basketball team.
Two experienced hunters reported sighting (9/20) a female grizzly bear, accompanied by two cubs, in the vicinity of Independence Pass in Colorado.
The wildlife authorities declared Ursus arctos horribilis extinct in Colorado in 1952.
Not everyone, however, believed that they were right. For many years, sightings of grizzlies continued to be reported in the San Juan Mountains. They were all dismissed by the authorities.
Finally, in 1979, an archery hunter named Ed Wiseman was attacked by an extinct Colorado grizzly. Though severely mauled, Wiseman survived. He miraculously managed to kill the attacking bear, stabbing it repeatedly with a broadhead arrow. Officialdom responded by dispatching teams of learned scientists to trap and tag “Old Ephraim” without success. And the bear returned safely to extinction. Until this month.
News of a surviving grizzly bear population in the Centennial State inevitably throws a monkey wrench into the vexatious quarrel between environmentalists and stockmen about whether or not so large and dangerous a predator ought to be re-introduced.
Some writers have taken an interest in the question of the possibility of a surviving Southern Rockies subspecies.
David Peterson published Ghost Grizzlies (1995) reviewing the evidence, and leaning toward the affirmative.
Rick Bass’s The Lost Grizzlies (also 1995) treats the same question more literarily as a personal, and comedic, quest.