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Out of concern for public safety, Grand Teton National Park staff euthanized a 3-year-old female black bear on Thursday afternoon, June 11. Earlier in the day, the bear exhibited bold behavior and appeared to have little concern regarding the presence of humans and their activities, which prompted park officials to make the difficult decision to remove her from the population in order to reduce future threats to people and their safety. This is the first bear to be euthanized in Grand Teton this year. Two black bears were euthanized in 2014.
The brown-colored bear climbed into the open—and temporarily unattended—trunk of a vehicle after guests of Jenny Lake Lodge removed their luggage and entered their cabin to settle in for the night. While in the trunk, the bear found food items, which she ate. She then climbed on top of the same car. Witnesses reported that the bear appeared to be trying to gain entry into the passenger compartment. The bear then proceeded to visit other cabins before she ripped into items left in a parked housekeeping cart and stole a purse, which she carried off into the woods. Witnesses also reported that the bear stood on its hind legs and pressed its front paws and face against the windows and doors of several cabins in an apparent attempt to enter.
The bear was estimated to weigh approximately 125 pounds and had no ear tags or other identification that would mark it as a previously captured bear. While attempting to catch the bear, Grand Teton personnel closed off the Jenny Lake scenic loop road for about one hour. After capturing the bear, park biologist transported it to a remote area so they could gather information on its physical condition. Biologists then euthanized the black bear using established park protocols for such management actions.
In the past two years, park staff have seen numerous food storage violations by visitors using the String Lake beaches and picnic areas. People have left coolers and tote bags with food items unattended while they enjoy wading, swimming and boating on String Lake. Because of the repeated reports of black bears getting easy access to these coolers and tote bags, park officials discussed possible restrictions against food items.
Once a bear acquires human food, it often loses its fear of people and may become dangerous. Park officials strongly remind local residents and visitors that proper storage of food items and disposal of garbage is vitally important. Thoughtless actions of people can literally lead to a life or death situation for bears that can easily become corrupted by the availability of human food and garbage. Human carelessness doesn't just endanger people;it can also result in a bear's death.
Bears roam near park developments and throughout the backcountry. For the health and safety of both bears and people, park visitors must adhere to food storage rules. With information and proper actions, people can help keep a bear from becoming human-food conditioned and possibly save its life. Detailed information about how to behave in bear country is available at park visitor centers or online at www.nps.gov/grte.
Last updated: June 12, 2015