Yellowstone National Park

Last week, a group of five backpackers encountered an aggressive black bear at a northern Yellowstone National Park backcountry campsite roughly 3 miles from the Hellroaring Trailhead.

Around 5 p.m. July 6, an adult female black bear wandered into their camp. The backpackers, three adults and two children, were sitting outside their tents.

The bear approached one adult woman and bit her right arm and head. It also attempted to nip the right hand of one of the children. Their injuries were minor, only bruises and abrasions, according to a National Park Service press release.

After advancing on the campers, the bear redirected to their food, which was not yet hung on their storage pole. Responding rangers found the bear still eating at the campsite and decided to kill it, according to the press release.

Rangers did so because the bear entered an occupied campsite, bit the backpackers and received “a considerable food reward” for its behavior. Linda Veress, a Yellowstone public information specialist, confirmed that these are common reasons a bear might be euthanized.

Veress recommends that campers carry bear spray and keep their food stored at all times unless they are actively using it. “Smelly” items, including toothpaste, deodorant and sunscreen, should be treated like food and stored accordingly.

“The risk of being injured by a black bear while in backcountry campsites in Yellowstone National Park is approximately 1 in 850,000 overnight stays,” Yellowstone bear management biologist Kerry Gunther said in the release. The risk may be low, but it’s never zero.

Contact Lillian Bissell by emailing

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