Yellowstone offers some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities in North America, if not the world. Without fences to limit movements, animals can decide where they want to go...as long as people give them space and the right-of-way.
Bears often grow accustomed to people and feed in roadside meadows with hundreds of people watching and taking pictures. Park rangers try to manage these situations, but it happens too frequently for us to be present all the time. If you stop to watch a roadside bear in Yellowstone, you have a responsibility to behave in a way that doesn’t put people, or the bear, at risk.
We realize sharing a landscape with wild animals is unfamiliar to many people, so here are some guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience:
- Do not stop in the road or block traffic.
Use pullouts to watch bears and let other cars pass. When you park, make sure your car is entirely out of the lane of travel.
- Stay in your car.
Some of the best views and photos of bears come from the safety of a car. If you choose to leave your car, stay close so you can get inside quickly. Bears are curious and may approach people to search for and test new foods.
- Do not feed bears or leave food where they can get it.
Allowing bears to obtain human food even once often leads to them becoming aggressive toward people. Aggressive bears can be killed. Throw all garbage in bear-proof containers.
- Honk your horn and drive away.
Do this if a bear approaches your car to discourage the bear from continuing this behavior.
- Do not approach bears, or follow them when they leave.
The animals in Yellowstone are wild and unpredictable, no matter how calm they appear to be. Always stay at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears. Use a telephoto lens or binoculars to get a better view or picture.
- Do not stand in the road.
Make sure tripods are set up off the road.
- Do not surround, crowd, or block a bear’s movement.
If you affect a bear’s behavior in any way, give the bear more space.
- Do not run or make sudden movements.
Sudden movements can provoke a chase or attack. Be extra careful with children since they may run when excited.
- Report conflicts.
If you’re involved in a conflict with a bear, regardless of how minor, contact us or report it to a park ranger as soon as possible. If cell service is available, dial 911. The lives of other people, and the bear, may depend on it.