Perhaps this Yellowstone Visitor Should Have Just Gone to the Zoo
If this Yellowstone National Park comment card were a Yelp review, the headline might read, “One star. Poorly trained bears.”
Apparently a park visitor recently left the following feedback at the lodge where they stayed while visiting the park, as evidenced by the photo below:
“Our visit was wonderful, but we never saw any bears. Please train your bears to be where guests can see them. This was an expensive trip to not get to see bears.”
On some level it’s easy to relate to this visitor’s frustration, right? Bears are a sight to behold, and viewing them from a safe distance can be a truly unforgettable experience. That said, show this card to any conservationist and they’ll tell you, likely with a hint of exasperation in their voice: Bears are wild animals, and it’s our responsibility to help keep them that way.
There was a time when park managers actually encouraged bears to gather in easily accessible areas where visitors could crowd around and watch them feed on garbage. Check out this page on the history of bear management at Yellowstone, or this video on bear management at Yosemite, and you’ll see that that didn’t go so well. Thankfully for bears and humans, in the 1970’s, America’s approach to bear management changed, and everyone involved has been much better off since that time.
If you’re planning a trip to an area of the country where black bears roam sometime in the near future, check out these this guide to safe camping in black bear country by SCA Yosemite Bear Management Intern Dakota McCoy.
Horace Albright, Yellowstone Superintendent (1919-29) and NPS Director (1929-33), picnicking with bears… NPS photo via Big Sky Journal
To the disgruntled visitor who left Yellowstone still hankering for a satisfying bear experience, we suggest a July 2016 trip to Katmai National Park and Preserve’s Brooks Camp where an abundant supply of salmon reliably inspires bears to gather in rather impressive numbers. Or, next best thing, a visit to Explore.org’s famous Katmai Bear Cam.
BELOW: Bears at Katmai’s Brooks Falls. Photo by Christoph Strassler via Flickr.