Bear spray is an important tool for reducing bear-human conflicts and keeping both bears and people safe. To help keep Yellowstone's environment safe please recycle your used, expired, or unwanted bear spray canisters.
The best possible outcome of hiking the Yellowstone region is to come back with an unused can of bear spray.
Safe and appropriate disposal of bear spray, whether it’s been used or not, can be a challenge for visitors, and the park. It can’t be taken on airplanes. And it doesn’t belong in the trash, where it can injure others, and become a hazard in landfills.
A group of private and public partners has developed a machine that safely removes active ingredients and propellant from each bear spray canister. The components are sorted for recycling and diverted from landfills.
Dozens of locations throughout the region accept bear spray canisters for safe and sustainable recycling. Drop off points include park hotels, visitor centers, backcountry offices, area camping stores, and the Bozeman airport.
More information about hiking safely in Yellowstone is available at visitor centers, in the park newspaper, and on the park website.
You Tell Us: What does it mean to say that something is wild?
WOMAN: Wild to me is something that you can’t see around your home, and you have to go into the wilderness and such to see. It’s not tame.
BOY: Hmmm, well, it’s like, not touched by human civilization. And like, hmmm. People don’t like, mess around with it. Like, trim the trees to look pretty. It’s just like, what it was by itself. And not touched.
WOMAN: Wild, it does whatever it wants to do.
MAN: Whatever it was intended to do. We saw a grizzly the other day just walking across –
WOMAN: It was amazing.
MAN: We followed him for about three miles as he walked from one side of the valley to the other side of the valley.
WOMAN: He didn’t care about bison. He didn’t care about the pronghorn. He didn’t care about the car. He had a mission. He was going from there to there and he then wasn’t letting anything get in his way. He was so cute. Well, not cute. But …
MAN: Something’s wild is doing their thing regardless of the fact we’re here or not. They’re able to do their thing.
INTERVIEWER: What does it mean to say that something’s wild?
MAN: Not tamed. That was too basic. No, honestly, just, untouched by humans.
MAN: Yeah, that’s a good question. I guess, freedom to roam, and live as they’ve been accustomed to in the past. You know, with little human intervention, as little as possible, you know.
WOMAN: It’s kind of a loaded word, something that’s wild. But that something is able to survive in a habitat that’s somewhat natural and have those features that you would associate with not necessarily being tampered down by other people or things. The idea of a national park being wild is that, you know, these geysers that we have here aren’t, you know, cased off or anything. We’re able to walk right amongst them. We’re able to walk on paths and see bison in a way that you wouldn’t be able to see them at a zoo. And you’re able to come here and experience things and be human and be wild in these places. And that’s really important.
INTERVIEWER: Have you seen some wild animals here?
GIRL: Yeah. We saw a buffalo, and deer, and elk.
BOY: Not moose yet, or bear.
INTERVIEWER: So it’s special to see a wild animal?
GIRL: Yeah. We don’t see wild buffalo very often.
MAN: Yeah, we have seen buffalo in Colorado. But not wild, huh?
You Tell Us: What will it be like to visit Yellowstone 500 years from now?
MAN: Little more advanced, but basically the same thing. Well, when I say the same thing, completely different because of the geological, but, you know –
INTERVIEWER: By advanced, you mean, human society advancement?
MAN: Uh-hmm. I think similar to any national park, it’s going to be the same as long as we maintain it and make sure that we do all the right things, and basically, go forward from there. Make sure we maintain the park, don’t let people do bad things, and it’ll be there for generations.
BOY: It would probably be a lot smaller because more people will have to, like, live around here. And like, some may like cut down part of the forest so they have wood, and build on top of it for farmland so they can have food to eat.
GIRL: I think that there might be less …
INTERVIEWER: So there’d be fewer boardwalks, and sidewalks, and things.
GIRL: You wouldn’t get to see as many things because you couldn’t go on the boardwalk.
WOMAN: Ahh, because we learned that they might have to move the boardwalks, didn’t we? Because the ground is getting so hot.
WOMAN: I would honestly hope that I would have the chance to come 500 years from now just to see what people have done with the park in terms of how they are interpreting the features, and the cultural and natural history of the place. And to kind of, maybe see if there have been any unique geological changes with the caldera. With the population of the United States kind of changing how other people incorporate national parks into their heritage and history as well.
MAN: Hopefully it will still be here.
WOMAN: No, it’s not 500 – Well, it’ll still be here. There will just be more things. It’s going to be constantly changing.
INTERVIEWER: Okay, so we’ll still have a good park, a good park experience?
WOMAN: Oh yeah, I’m not saying it’s going to be gone. I’m just saying it’s going to be –
MAN: The volcano goes again, it’s going to be a different experience.
WOMAN: I don’t think the volcano is going that soon.
MAN: It’s due.
WOMAN: Ehh, yeah, yeah.
INTERVIEWER: Can you imagine 500 years from now coming back? Can you imagine what be like to visit this park 500 years from now?
WOMAN: Sort of, because England is getting that way so quickly. It would be a lot more built up around the park. And where we stayed last night in an RV site, you can imagine that would be enormous. The people that would be around here, unfortunately would be spoiling all of the walkways and things like that. And people would want to see it. And you would have more people from worldwide, because the world gets a smaller place. Isn’t it?
INTERVIEWER: But the experience of actually being in the park and walking around in this setting, do you have a sense of what it might be like here deep into the park?
WOMAN: Well, hopefully you would try and keep it unchanged. That would be great, yeah.
Did You Know?
Even though the animals of Yellowstone seem tame they are still wild. Feeding the animals is not permitted in any way, and all visitors must keep 100 yards away from wolves and bears, and 25 yards from other animals.