Will the public think Yellowstone is safer if this bear is killed?
Agonizing, there is no other word to describe the decisions that must be made at the highest level in Yellowstone National Park. Authorities are doing everything they can to be sure they correctly identify the bear that killed a hiker. Superintendent Dan Wenk has already said the female grizzly trapped in the area where Lance Crosby’s body was found will be euthanized if there is irrefutable evidence that she is the culprit. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Mr. Crosby and also to the dedicated park staff who responded to the scene and must now investigate and make those hard decisions. There are so many layers of consideration-it is never simple. However, there is one question that we would like to be part of the deliberations and that is for the authorities to think very deeply about what they hope to achieve as far as public perception if they decide to kill the bear and her cubs. Will removing the bear actually make people who recreate in Yellowstone National Park safer? There is a frightening possibility that killing this female will simply give visitors a false sense of security that the ‘man-eating’ grizzly is gone. This could lead to complacency where visitors or seasonal employees may not follow the recommendations to carry bear spray, hike in groups and be vigilant for the creatures that live there. Yellowstone National Park-indeed the whole Yellowstone Ecosystem-is now home to many hundreds of grizzly bears. They are large, powerful and supremely protective animals and any or every one of them has the capacity to make an encounter fatal to a human, especially if the human is unfamiliar or unwilling to take standard precautions.. Is there a way that Superintendent Wenk and his staff, together with the interagency team that is responsible for grizzly bears, can either spare the bear involved in the death of Mr Crosby, or ensure that the message gets out that Yellowstone is still not a place to take lightly if they do remove this specific animal? Fear can be a great motivator, it can also be numbing and allow people to ignore what is presented to them. Every park trail in Yellowstone and Grand Teton and many area forests has a “Bear Attack” sign warning people of precautions such as bear spray and group hiking before they set off on the trail. Would it make a difference to add that there HAVE been deaths in the ecosystem and the bears involved remain there? This is harsh, but it is reality. We must regard every large carnivore as having the capacity to kill if we, as humans, behave in ways that defy normal preventative expectations, even though it is an extraordinarily rare occurrence
-this is the only attitude that will keep us and them as safe as possible as we share our ever decreasing wild environment. http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/08/us/yellowstone-grizzly-bear-attack-hiker-dead-feat/index.html