Fed bear dead bear

Two of the three cubs pictured, which frequented the Signal Mountain area in 2018, were sent to Michigan’s Oswald Bear Ranch after Grand Teton National Park euthanized their mother for habituated behavior. When people feed bears, the bears can become aggressive toward people, prompting wildlife managers to remove the animals due to safety concerns.

Following reports of visitors feeding bears and a bluff charge by a grizzly with two cubs, Grand Teton National Park has closed the Signal Mountain Summit Road and surrounding area.

Park staff first received reports of visitors feeding bears along the road Tuesday evening but couldn’t confirm the species. The same evening, park spokeswoman Denise Germann said vehicles were lined up along the road and the park’s volunteer Wildlife Brigade was managing the situation when the grizzly mother bluff charged.

“It may be in response to the people,” Germann said. “It may be in response to a food source, with berries in the area ... to protection of cubs. It’s unknown.”

The park closed the road Wednesday with no estimated time for reopening.

“We want to provide the wildlife, the bears, some space,” Germann said.

The park also wants the public’s help cracking down on feeding wildlife.

“Feeding wildlife is irresponsible, dangerous and illegal, and we take these incidents very seriously,” the park’s Acting Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail said in a news release.

The public can report feeding wildlife to a nearby park ranger, the visitor center or by calling Park Watch at 307-739-3677. The maximum penalty for feeding park wildlife is a $5,000 fine and up to one year in jail. Visitors are required to maintain a distance of at least 100 yards from bears.

Signal Mountain is not the only area attracting bears this time of year.

“Bears are in areas where the berries are ripening, so be thoughtful as you are hiking and traveling through the park,” Germann said.

The park also recommends carrying bear spray, making noise and traveling in groups.

Contact Managing Editor Rebecca Huntington at 732-7078 or rebecca@jhnewsandguide.com.

Managing Editor Rebecca Huntington has worked for newspapers across the West. She hosts a rescue podcast, The Fine Line. Her family minivan doubles as her not-so-high-tech recording studio.

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