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.

Grand Teton National Park rangers made the call Wednesday to reopen Signal Mountain Road and nearby trails, which had been closed because of a string of conflicts with berry-foraging bears about a week ago.

“The road, the trail, it’s open,” park spokeswoman Denise Germann said.

There were three observed and reported conflicts Aug. 13.

A park visitor called in an eyewitness account of a fellow visitor feeding an unknown item to a bear, and twice that same day overcrowded bears bluff-charged people.

A grizzly sow with two cubs — likely the famous animal known as 610 — was involved in the first altercation, which took place while the park’s volunteer Wildlife Brigade was trying to keep the scene in order.

“The volunteers were outside their vehicle, and the grizzly bear was on the other side of the road,” Germann said. “The bear started huffing a bit, and charged the wildlife volunteers.”

The brigadiers darted to the other side of their vehicle to avert the testy grizzly, Germann said. There wasn’t even time for the volunteers to unholster their bear spray before the bruin called off its pursuit.

The other bluff charge, reported the same day, involved a black bear. A video of that incident captured by park visitor Jeff Lang has been embedded.

Signal Mountain Road’s “bear jams” are almost impossible to police, Germann said, because of the steep, tight, curvy nature of the road.

It’s a similar situation to Moose-Wilson Road, which closes routinely when grizzlies are active in the corridor.

No progress has been made on finding the person who supposedly fed a Signal Mountain bear, partly because there was almost no information to go on.

“There’s no reason to doubt the individuals that gave us the information,” Germann said, “but we were unable to follow up on it.”

Last fall, a Signal Mountain sow black bear was trapped and killed, and her cubs sent to an outdoor zoo, after the animals became dangerously habituated due to being fed.

Contact Mike Koshmrl at 732-7067 or env@jhnewsandguide.com.

Mike has reported on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem's wildlife, wildlands and the agencies that manage them since 2012. A native Minnesotan, he arrived in the West to study environmental journalism at the University of Colorado.

(2) comments

Eugene Kiedrowski

There has to be some accountability for these people feeding wildlife and also for those that approach without caution. Bears and other wildlife are going to be way stressed this year due to forage availability and this may happen more often if actions are not taken to deter guests from these actions.

Lanny Lammers

Come on man, don't feed the wikdlife!

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