Park closes area after 4 bears steal dead elk
By Mike Koshmrl, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
October 26, 2012
An elk hunter returned to his kill in Grand Teton National Park Wednesday morning to find four grizzly bears having a feast.
The pulse-raising encounter ended without injury, but prompted park officials to close a 1/4-square-mile section along the Snake River just north of Schwabacher Landing. The hunter, a Cody man whose name was not released, left the carcass overnight, which is discouraged but not prohibited, park spokeswoman Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles said.
“The hunter had reported to us that they were black bears, but all indications point to it being a grizzly bear,” Anzelmo-Sarles said. “We did see grizzly tracks in the area, and we have had confirmed sightings of grizzly bears in that area over the last couple weeks.”
The bears on the carcass were likely a family — grizzly 610 and her three cubs — Anzelmo-Sarles said. Given the circumstances, the Cody man acted appropriately, she said.
“He did the correct thing and retreated and notified the park,” she said.
According to Anzelmo-Sarles, there have been no other known incidents this year with bears and hunters in the park’s “elk reduction program.” Jackson resident Timothy Hix was mauled during last year’s hunt, sustaining two bite wounds.
Jackson real estate agent Tim Mayo, a critic of the park hunt, responded to the temporary closure with tempered approval.
“The annual concentration of black bears and grizzly bears drawn to fresh elk gut piles and elk carcasses discarded and abandoned by careless park hunters mixed with unsuspecting visitors has finally been recognized by Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott as a recipe for disaster,” Mayo said in an email. “I speculate that the tremendous liability of ignoring repeated warnings of the dangers created by the park’s flawed policies has finally sunk in with the superintendent.”
The closure will last until at least Monday, Anzelmo-Sarles said, depending on when biologists can assess the area.