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"The good of the one is outweighed by the good of the many." That's one of my favorite quotations ever because it applies to so many issues. It comes from The Wrath of Khan, my favorite Star Trek movie (yep, still a Trekkie, even at my age), and so brilliantly offered by none other than Mr. Spock. But what does it have to do with bears? A lot, it seems.

Killing Bears to Save Bears

“The good of the one is outweighed by the good of the many.”

That’s one of my favorite quotations ever because it applies to so many issues. It comes from The Wrath of Khan, my favorite Star Trek movie (yep, still a Trekkie, even at my age), and so brilliantly offered by none other than Mr. Spock.

But what does it have to do with bears? A lot, it seems.

As I started to write this column, rangers in Glacier National Park were hiking around one of my favorite parts of Glacier, the highlands above Two Medicine Lake in the shadow of mighty Rising Wolf Mountain, trying to find and kill a mother grizzly and capture her two cubs. This female bear, dubbed the Old Man Bear because she hung out around Oldman Lake, had been scaring the stuffing out of hikers for at least a decade, getting bolder and bolder, and anybody in the bear management biz knows there is no such thing as an old bold bear.

Rangers even tried aversive conditioning (i.e. chased her with Karelian bear dogs, shot her with rubber bullets, and other non-lethal stimuli), but that didn’t cure her of her chronic bad behavior. She came back bolder than ever.

Some people oppose such “management actions,” but I hope they can re-think their criticism because sometimes we need to kill bears, not just to save people, but to save bears, too. I understand why people don’t like the idea of killing bears, but then, who does? You think rangers enjoy shooting a mother bear with cubs? Every ranger I ever met reveres bears.

For me, the tough part of this deal is removing cubs from the wild and condemning them to captivity. I personally would prefer the rangers shoot them, too, to save them from a lifetime of exile in a big city zoo. But there is no chance rangers will do that, so say goodbye to three members of Glacier’s grizzly population.

Anybody protesting Glacier’s decision hasn’t studied the tenuous relationship between bears and man. The vast majority of bear incidents, including most fatalities, can be attributed to a bear that has become too “conditioned” or “habituated” to the presence of humankind, often by getting food rewards from us. The Old Man Bear had been walking through occupied campsites, sniffing backpackers’ dinners, following hikers up the trail like a lost dog. This bear was clearly a time bomb waiting to explode.

Bureaucracy is slow to change, but this is a good example of how it finally comes around. You could easily speculate that if rangers would have killed those two female bears back in July 1967 before they killed and consumed two young women, well, we wouldn’t have had the Night of the Grizzlies, and two women who didn’t need to die might be joyfully playing with their grandchildren today.

(More on Night of the Grizzlies next week.)

Ditto for the equally tragic incident on September 23, 1976 when another young woman tent camping with her four companions in Glacier’s Swiftcurrent vehicle campground died a horrible death. One of two grizzlies that had displayed obviously dangerous behavior for weeks prior to the incident ripped into a tent and dragged away a University of Montana student, killing and partially consuming her. At a time, even after August 13, 1967, the night that changed everything for bear managers, the National Park Service was still too gunshy about taking out a problem bear before it became a killer bear.

But no more, and we should all applaud the newfound resolve even in the face of criticism from people who don’t really understand the gravity of the situation.

As I was about half-done with this commentary, I received press release from the Glacier press office saying rangers shot the mother grizzly and captured one of her two cubs. The other cub died during the process of darting and transplanting. Rangers tried to resuscitate the cub by performing mouth to nose CPR, but to no avail.

You have to admire them for doing all they could to save the cub, but as I already noted, I’m not too disappointed they failed. Now, we have only one grizzly given a life sentence without parole of gawking tourists for entertainment and horse pellets for dinner.

“Unfortunately, this entire family group of grizzly bears had become overly familiar with humans.” Glacier Superintendent Chas Cartwright explained in the press release. “Park resource personnel worked to keep this bear and her offspring in the wild for five years, but given her most recent display of over-familiarity in combination with her history of habituation, we determined that the three grizzlies posed an unacceptable threat to human health and safety; and therefore, needed to be removed from the park.”

Incidentally, rangers shot the mother grizzly as they observed her heading for a group of backpackers camping at Oldman Lake–and, of course, young grizzlies learn most of what they need to know from their mother before striking out on their own.

Cartwright also noted that Glacier has an “internationally-vetted” Bear Management Plan and Guidelines specifying that conditioned bears that display over-familiarity must be removed from the wild population. I’ve actually read this plan, and it’s excellent.

If this plan would’ve been in place in 1967 and 1976, perhaps three people (or more) might still be alive.

No zoos, incidentally, will take adult grizzlies. To that, I say, whew!

Concerning the cub that didn’t survive, I say, it’s for the best.

Concerning the cub that did survive and is on its way to the Bronx Zoo, I say, please forgive us. Hopefully, the essence of wildness is not too deeply imprinted on this little brain.

Killing problem bears before they become killer bears protects all bears. Right now, the only reason grizzly bears exist on earth is because we allow it. How remarkably easy it would be for us to remove the great bear from the wild.

We tolerate grizzly bears because there are so few of them in so few places and because, most important, there are so few maulings. Even though many thousands of people hike the trails of Glacier every year, and many of them come within the “defensive perimeter” of a grizzly bear, usually without even knowing it, there are so few incidents. I attribute this partly to excellent management, albeit a bit slow in coming, but mostly to the incredible intelligence and stealth of the creature that so expertly avoids encounters without giving up its spot on top of the food chain, the king of the mountains, the majestic grizzly bear.

The last thing we want is more bloody incidents, which leads to less social tolerance for the entire species. When we see a problem, we must deal with it, precisely the way we just did.

About Bill Schneider

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  1. I think the rangers gave Old Momma every chance. Fecund, yes, which was good, but mentally a “trailer-trash” bear, which was bad in that she had two cubs she was training to be welfare babies. I don’t think either one would have been a good candidate in the wild at all. So….maybe your idea is correct, Bill, but not POLITICALLY correct.

  2. Bill, I agree with much of what you write but you are way off on this one.

    There was nothing “precise” about this. A bear that never attacked, bit or showed any aggresson towards humans was gunned down because of our own ego. To top it off, a cub was killed by ODing on tranquilizer.

    You call that “getting it right”?

    Our society runs on something called “proof” before we hand out sentences. This is what a fair and just society does. We don’t try and predict if John Smith from Chicago will rob a bank in ten years and then try and arrest him now. That would be arrogant and stupid.

    When you enter a part of the city witha higher crime rate, you know you are taking a risk. Whenyou enter grizzly bear country, it’s the same thing. You *know* you have a chance of being killed and eaten by a grizzly bear. That is how the world works. That is how life works. We cannot simply go around, like some heavily armed psychic and be judge, jury and executioner.
    That is complete arrogance.

    Old Man Lake campground is in a berry patch. It’s always been in a bad location. This bear was a victim of human arrogance both in terms of riduclous psyhcic predictions and in the initial planning of the campground. I’ve hiked this area many times as it is my favorite in Glacier National Park.

    I have to say I am very surprised at your nonchalant attitude towards the botching of the cub grizzly. All life should be respected, weather it can be potentially dangerous or not. Your desire to not see the animals in a zoo should not override their right to a life. Yes, zoos are bad, but how do you know that this bear wouldn’t have been well fed and comfortable? Zoos in our major metropolitan areas are actually pretty good.

    If you had a choice right now between ending your own life and having house arrest for the rest of your life but being well fed, which would you choose? I’m guessing you would choose house arrest.

    It’s easy for people to be nonchalant about life or death when it’s *not them*.

    This was a bungled operation from the get go. The Park Service received thousands of calls warning them not to do this, many by experienced hikers who love this area and who have seen this bear, and whom realized the bad location of Old Man Lake campground.

    In the end, the NPS botched the job and killed a cub by what appears to be obvious overdose of tranquilizer.

    But hey, in the end, we think we made a campground in a berry patch safer. We think. Tonight, a 17 year old sow and her cubs who called the Two Medicine area home, and who were part of the great spirit of that wonderful area gone. No human was ever attacked or charged. None of her cubs ever attacked or charged.

    But hey, that’s why we have psychics with guns and lots of tranquilizer. It’s the wild wild west with a sci-fi twist. Fun for everyone.

    Two Med has been made safe for now. We think. Maybe.

  3. Also Bill, I was wondering if you could provide information as to how killing this bear family saved other grizzly bears? Thanks.

  4. Thanks, Bill – I largely agree with your perspective.

  5. Hey Bill, How about we start killing everyone and everything. That’s the answer to everything, right?
    Your point of view is horrifying and violent and you failed to even make a point having anything to do with your article headline as one other comment stated.
    The only reason Bears are on this earth is because we allow them to be here? Ridiculous!… the only reason WE’RE here is because THEY allow us be here. One day nature/wildlife is going fight back because of all the ignorance and damage caused by people like you. I really hope karma doesn’t get you, buddy… because with views like yours, you’re bound to be eaten alive by a bear.
    You have no reverence for life.. just your own.

  6. Mike, let me help you. It’s pretty simple. And SA, you too.
    Bears are relatively intelligent and learn behaviors from their momma. Momma Bear applies aversive and operant conditioning when appropriate. Momma bear also sets the example. If the example is for Momma to raid camp, one of these days, a human might throw a fry pan at either Momma or Booboo.
    Now, did you ever mess with the big dumb kid in your class, and did he ever stomp you good?
    Ah, good for you, Mike, now you get it, right?

  7. Mike,

    You do realize the absurdity of your statements don’t you? We wait until it BITES someone? They really don’t just go up and bite like a dog and then run off you know. You cannot wait on Grizzly bears – you just can’t. As soon as you ignore problem bears and the inevitable happens the public is SCREAMING that they were not protected!

  8. Congrats Dave Skinner, you’ve managed to turn another New West feedback area into battle of the lowest IQ.

  9. Really –

    If we went around shooting everyhting before it bites, there wouldn’t be much wildlife left, would there? There would be no great white sharks, no bears, no cougars, nothing. We’d have nothing but tree plantations full of rabbits and deer with endless miles of ATV trails (Dave Skinners Utoipia).

    This is a national park, a wild place for wild animals. Unless the park service has psychic ability, blowing away animals you don’t like doesn’t really make sense. If this bear had attacked, bitten, charged or been aggressive yeah it makes sense. That wasn’t the case though. Adn instead of one dead sow grizz, we have a cub that was killed by incompetence.

    Hey Really, I don’t like the way your dog is dun lookin at me! Lemme fetch my here rifle so I can protect myself and take care of the problem before it even begins. Thanks much for yer understandin’!

  10. Mike,

    I completely agree with you that this has become the battle of the lowest IQ. I really wish you would educate yourself on animal behavior and the management of our National Parks.

    You see the parks were set aside for PEOPLE to also enjoy. Not just the animals. This bear has been a problem for YEARS Mike.

    No one is calling for all animals to be killed. When an animal becomes a problem – for YEARS it has to be taken care of.

    I have a solution though. Why don’t you start taking the problem bears yourself? Since you are so concerned for them, I’m sure the parks would be very happy with that solution.

  11. For years bears were garbage dump animals, and with some closing of dumps and RECONDITIONING of bears, we no longer have the crowds of garbage eating bears. They didn’t go out and kill all the bears to do it either. The human race is too quick to kill something to solve a problem. It’s a hurry up society, and that is what is destroying this country along with others.
    Why not close that area of the PARK till the berries are gone, move the humans. Supposedly they are the smarter species, but with this type of behavior they are the weaker, and more scared, not to mention lazy.

    A few harsh fines and sentences for disobeying Park rules, could go a long way in protecting what a Park has for future generations. People don’t go to the Parks to see some hiker walking up a path, or roasting their hot dogs.
    Before you know it the Parks will have fiberglass animals for viewing like the Town of West Yellowstone has with those stupid Bison Statues, instead of what the people come to spend their money to see.

  12. The bottom line is that we’ve lost a highly productive female bear and her two cubs, and that’s a serious loss. Just how long will it take to replace those three bears?


  13. Ann

    Actually, after the Park closed the dumps bear mortality was really high as bears shifted from the Park dumps to little dumps. Indeed, the high mortality of bears after the closing of the dumps–shot by the government–is one of the factors in listing the bear under the ESA in 1973. The reconditioning period was long and painful, and in my view, isn’t over yet.

    What we’ve just now seen in Glacier is another reason to put bears back on the T&E;list.


  14. Bill, don’t assume that because people don’t agree with you that somehow we don’t know any thing about grizzlies and their habits. The Old Man Lake grizzly should have been shadowed by a ranger or two to keep her away from people. Grand Teton Nat’l Park did that and it worked. This grizzly had been gone from the campground for all of 2007 and 2008. The second she showed up in 2009, the rangers should have started working with her again and they should have closed the campground. They should have worked with this bear for as long as it took. You can’t kill a bear because “maybe” “perhaps” “possibly” “we think” “there’s a slim chance” that she could hurt someone.

    This breeding female was too valuable to the grizzly population to have been killed. Every single female grizzly is important to their overall survival!

    I think the park administration gave up too soon because it was the easy thing to do. I bet every single administration person and every single ranger in Glacier now regrets what happened.

    If the general public would have been given enough time to donate money for this cause, I believe enough money could have been raised to either shadow the grizzly with a couple of rangers or even bring the bear dogs back again to work her or even a combination of both.

    Bill, it’s not realistic to think that you can have thousands of hikers and campers in Glacier and no one would ever have a conflict with a bear. Most people who enter Glacier know that it can be a dangerous place but they’re willing to take the risk. It would be completely impossible for a conflict to never happen.

    The “gentle soul” deserved better !

  15. Yes Robert, I worked with the FW&P;in the late 60’s & 70’s collaring and all, the grizzlies. Many times chains would break or cables causing the bears to fall to their deaths. Intended? Some were. We have a sow and cub now behind the cabin with a campground not a 1/4 of a mile through the swamp. She’s stayed out of trouble. It doesn’t take much if you do what is necessary to keep the conflict from happening. But people are stupid, and then blame their idiotic mistakes on the wildlife.

  16. People just don’t read do they. ANN THEY DID ALL THAT ALREADY. It didn’t work. This has gone on over a period of 5 YEARS.

    They tried, and tried and tried and tried to get the bear to move on and change its behavior. It didn’t work. Even the people who are doing this for a living have said that the Park worked hard to change the bear and did all they could.

  17. Bill
    Did you bother even contacting the Wind River people to get their perspective on this bear? I doubt it…that would take a bit too much research. Their dogs worked with this bear for years and know her better than anyone.
    Why not check with them and come back and write a factual, accurate, unbiased story.
    Hoskins……’re “right on” with your comments. This is a huge loss.

  18. I spent ten years full time in bear conservation, most of it focused on grizzlies, and I come away from this latest debate wishing that just a fourth as much passion and interest could go into protecting the bear’s native habitat, which is still threatened by the likes of housing sprawl.

  19. REALLY I know how hard (or not) they tried. Just like with kids consistency and repetition do wonders. Not the once or twice a week or when somebody reported it. People are lazy and pampered. How many ‘rangers’ rehabilitaters will actually stay in the field to do the job right? It’s not one of those go home at dusk or at the 5:00 whistle. Bet you can’t tell me for absolute certain the amount of actual effort was put into the job? It’s easier to ‘dispose ‘ of the problem than to fix it. Heck people give the domestic animals more time to ‘absorb’ their training.
    So go yell at somebody else.

  20. As someone who has worked on grizzly conservation for >30 years, I agree with Bill that it is regretable but necessary to sometimes kill bears that pose a risk to people. Waiting until such bears actually kill or injure someone is a strategy counterproductive to grizzly conservation and exposes the agency to potential litigation. In this case the Park Service did a good job in emphasizing that it was the pattern of human behavior that caused the problem to get to the point where killing the bear was the best of a range of bad options. One hopes that making this clear will serve an educational function on how best to avoid the need for additional killings of habituated bears.

  21. People kill bears – this is news? Educate visitors to the park better – if they don’t get it, tough.

    If campers insist on being unsavvy, then who needs ’em?

  22. Could they not have totally closed the area, especially the campground…at least for this year? I’m not familiar with Glacier, but if that would have kept her out of contact with humans, at least the cubs would not have learned to associate food and humans.

  23. A little Institutional Memory can go a long way. I’m amazed that nobody here except Hoskins alludes to the early days of Grizzly endangered species act listing. There’s some hard won knowledge to be had from recounting the 1973-1985 anecdotes.

    But it goes back further. My youth in Cody WY has many episodes of roadside Bears in Yellowstone. We kids and our parents ” adopted” certain bears ( mostly black bears) on Sylvan Pass and interior eastern Yellowstone in the late 50’s and early 60’s. We could count on seeing the same bears in the same places alongside the road week after week, and they us. We hand fed the bears from our convertible Pontiac , and had nicknames for them . The sows even let us rub the cubs fur. We teased them. Wyoming State Senator Hank Coe in his reckless youth got caught slipping a Sylvan Pass bear a hamburger with a cherry bomb or M-80 in it from his Ford Thunderbird convertible , and he killed the bear. It was a grizzly if I recall. Being from a wealthy connected political family, he got off without hard time. Henry could well have rotted in rison for all our sins.

    We’d often drive over to Old Faithful for the ritual dusk ” feeding” at the Old Faithful “zoo”, where the grizzlies were pseudo-tamed with food to not be troublemakers. The bears had a pecking order- which bear got first helping of the slop buckets and leftovers from the restaurants and cafeteria. An oldtimer in Cody had a remarkable 8×10 black and white photo in his collection of the dump at Old Faithful with 64 bears in the scene.

    Fast forward: Once the Craigheads estabished that grizzlies were ecologically aberrant in Yellowstone and Glacier Parks , having habituated to an unnatural food chain ( the dumps and roadside handouts, etc), things began to change. By the time the bears were formally protected in 1975 , Park service managers had decided to wean them from human feeding. And that became a fiasco. Having been forced to go cold turkey on ham and steak and hot dogs, the habituated bears got really really ornery . To put it mildly. There were of course fully wild bears who never became habituated. And they saved the Yellowstone grizzly population.

    Hundreds of Yellowstone grizz were killed following listing; those that couldn’t adapt back to the wild. They began aggressively breaking into cabins and cars and harassing camps…all manner of bad behavior. And paid the ultimate price in ar too many cases. When I was working in the Crossed Sabres Ranch hunting camp on Mountain Creek just outside Yellowstone’s eastern boundary in 1975 and 76, we saw a great many Department of Interior helicopters with tranquilized bears in the cargo net, flying a bear to the backcountry to ” relocate” it. Sometimes they were dumping a dead bear. Whether it died of too much PCP or other drugs, or was unruly , or woke up too soon and clawed its way out of the net, or just went berserk on its own , it died. Many of those bears were ” relocated” alarmingly close to established hunting camps and wellknown campsites and trails in the Bridger Teton wilderness or Shoshone forest / Absaroka Wilderness. We had lots of problems with bear incursions in our camps. Especially when Interior dumped a bear in an area already populated with very territorial local grizzlies. For a full decade the Learning Curve by both grizzlies and humans was a wild roller coast ride of trial and error ( mostly the latter). One of my saddletramp buddies , guide Jack Kincaid , had the pleasure of finding the first pieces of the Swiss woman backpacker in the Pelican Valley of Yellowstone who was attacked, killed, and partially eaten by a raging grizzly. Jack’s dudes got more than they paid for on that ‘genuine backcountry Yellowstone horse trip experieince ‘.

    Let me cut to the chase here. It only took about 25 years to pretty well re-educate the Grizzlies. The sows were quick to teach their cubs to avoid humans, or at least be discrete . We are still trying to re-educate the humans, to this day —-especially the backcountry gung-ho Great White Hunter crowd who believe the best solution to a grizzly bear encounter problem is a large caliber gun.

    There are w-a-a-a-a-a-y fewer negative human-grizzly encounters today than there were 35 years ago when the Endangered Species sea change occured in Greater Yellowstone. For the most part, the grizzly recovery has gone well. The Bears got to the finish line first . We humans are still putting our arrogance in front of our intellect , though.

    I’m going to say something that’s bound to infuriate the gun crowd here. Guns are seldom the solution to a grizzly problem. Most human-grizzly encounters these days are the fault f the human . not the bear…specifically the human’s lack of understanding of bears.

    Yes, bears do on occasion need t be put down. The occasional problem bear. But far too often the backcountry bear that gets wasted has done nothing wrong or is merely using its own ways and means to defend its territorial imperative. And the human needs to realize first and foremost that YOU are encroaching on that bear’s domain. While you may claim the absolute right to self defense, that bear has an absolute right to survive that trumps your right if that bear is not in the process of actually seriously purposely killing you. With grizzlies it is NEVER shoot first and ask questions later . Each and every Yellowstone grizzly is the equivalent to his population of bears as 722,000 humans are to the American people of the lower 48 states. One Grizzly is equivalent to 722,000 humans, by the numbers…450 griz set against 320 million people.

    Some bears must be taken out, regrettably. Are you educated enough to know which ones and the why and wherefore ? We have to learn to coexist with Grizzlies, and now Wolves.

  24. I’d like to hear an explanation from park personnel as to why it was preferable to kill park inhabitants than to “inconvenience” human visitors by closing the Oldman Lake campsite for the long-term…remove it, move it, whatever. Yellowstone designates Bear Management Areas and restricts HUMAN usage to give bears the room they need when they need it and to avoid conflict. The Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribe closes thousands of acres of the Mission Mountains every year–with the support of tribal people–to honor bears and to accommodate their habitat requirements. What’s wrong with Glacier???

  25. Dewey,

    All that salt you and your comrades illegally carted into the wilderness area at Mt. Creek must of addled your brain. I was there (at Lake and fishing bridge, the core hot spot) before the closing of dumps and I directly worked with trapping and relocating bears from its campgrounds and campsites in ’72 and ’73.

    No, there were not hundreds of bears killed or even flown. there weren’t even that many bears in the Greater yellowstone ecosystem. I know of two. You and your little buddies, including the maintenance guys in Yellowstone always talked of bear dumping sites in the Park but no one could ever quite pin down those locations. That is because it wasn’t happening.

    Yes, there was some transplanting into the wilderness areas but nothing like you infer.

    And as far as the Cross Sabres camp on Mt. Creek, it was the worst garbage pit of any camps in the Wilderness during the years you talk about. Remember that slimy chalk colored 2’X 2′ swill hole immediately to the left (as you went out) of the cook tent door? This is where the cook and her helper threw all the waste and food concentrated dish water after each meal. talk about drawing bears in!!!

    Forget Yellowstone dumps the outfitters had the worst dumps of all.

    And as for your “sadlle tramp” buddy JK FIRST finding parts of Swiss Miss it belongs to the same war story category of all those Walter Mitties, Park Service (office jocks) and Private wanna be’, who want to believe in a life they don’t have. The remains were found by my supervisor oh buddy, o pal. And I was the one who put the campsite in back in 1972. (there never should have been a site there, but the powers above overruled my saying it was too spooky of a bear area. they took it out after this fatality.).

    Maybe you don’t remember your bud,JK, getting caught by me leaving a blood trail out of the Park from an elk he and his dude shot in the Thorofare? Did he tell you I pulled a bloody snow ball out of his jacket pocket? The one he was using from to plant blood on two day old snow melted elk tracks?…and then got very angry for me shooting the antlers off his “hunters prize bull” when lo and behold, he sighted another bunch of bloody snow (and still not melted into the snow even though the shooting was on a warm morning and it was 5 hours later) just outside the Park (in those days if you could prove a blood trail going from outside to in…and didn’t disturb it you could keep it after getting a ranger to see for himself).

    Did he tell you he collapsed to his knees after I pulled that snow ball out of his pocket and forcefully threw it to the ground….and his boss, owner of the camp and I then walked away leaving him there? Did he, did he???

    Ya there are some real salt of the earth cowboys in them thar camps and they spread as much stuff on the wolves as they do the bears. The best I ever heard was a Jackson hole guide saying Thorofare alone had over 400 wolves.

    I will tell you one thing …there was a big white boat that came out of the Bridge Bay marina that would head into the South arms of the Lake up to a lot of no good. And during the period you talk about, during the summers I found several gun killed elk left as bait along the SE arm and along the east shore of the Lake. There were some dudes up to some heavy bear killings post Craigheads. And the same was going on in upper Pelican Valley. Can you tell me anything about the illegal horse trail going up Sedge Creek? Or does this info stay inhouse and at the Irma?

    Come on, stay out of the bars and forget about all those hero camp bosses that had all those stories for your young ears, my man. I caught most all of those guys poaching… and all of them, when the gig was up ….would break down, miles from anywhere, just the two of us most times..and the head would lower and tears would stream down their faces. Not saying a word, I would get the note book out of my shirt pocket, hand it to them open to a fresh page …and say just right it down. Some terrific confessions, I must say.

    The griz killed in glacier I agree probably never should have been needed. I’d say the Park did a lot of things through the years before that made the final decision self determining. Just my guess without further info. Enough for now.

  26. Larry Lilly, a hiker in the park took some pics of the bear family on the day they died. You can see them here:

    He had a great quote about “just shutting down the trail and dealing with it”.

    Couldn’t agree more. It’s not Disneyland.

  27. Pronghorn…..great questions, and I just emailed and called requesting answers.
    For those interested, the Park Superintendent can be reached at 406-888-7800

  28. Bob jackson: My father took me to Yellowstone when I was 5 years old, I am now 70 & have visited the Yellowstone area 60 or so times. I enjoy your comments that are based on experience & not opinion. And thanks for all of the good work you did as a true warrior and someone who cares.

    In terms of the griz in Glacier, it is easy “to stand back and throw rocks” and, therefore, I will forgive the the rangers for shooting the bear. National Park rangers deal with thousands of “fools” who must be protected. One additional comment, I wonder if the rangers tried bear spray on the critter. I always carry bear spray & once I inadvertly hit myself in the face with this spray & it is effective….it immediately shuts you down.

  29. Late 60’s to mid 70’s is when we were tagging and weighing the Grizzlies right in my back yard. We had better than 10 different Grizzlies a night. And a couple of those were sows with two or more cubs. So there were lots of bears in this area. We named most of them too. Katrinka was an old sow that didn’t have cubs but was in the yard every thursday night come hell or high water. The bear that ate the tourist at Rainbow point campground in the early 80’s, we watched grow up. And of all the Grizzlies, rarely saw a black, only one of those was a rogue. And he isn’t any more. He was killing cattle like a kid steps on bugs. Actually heard him catch a calf, and was eating it on the move. I’ve got plenty of pictures too. I know of at least two grizzlies that were dropped from the helicopter. And they weren’t dead when they were airborn. They were being relocated deeper in the park. Really is too bad that the ‘authorities’ and I say that lightly, have to have a human get hurt before they act. I was always taught Prevention is key. Again the conflicts start because the humans over step their bounds.
    Not many Grizzlies go into town and break into houses to eat people.

  30. Sadly these bears died to protect the environmental hikers who used the “back country” campground. If the bears had been gone for two years, why not close it this year at the first sighting of her, the cubs would not have learned any bad habits yet.

  31. I agree the mother was dangerous and I feel so bad for the two cubs. Fortunately, one does not have to go through a long long life in a zoo. However, why couldn’t the other baby cub go to the Grizzly Encounter place in Bozeman? It was our first visit there this year so I don’t know alot about it but Andy raised a baby and Brutus is now 5 years old. Why couldn’t this happen with that baby cub?

  32. Ann,

    The only way I know of bears being transplanted into the woods from helicopters was for them to be slung in nets or in culvert traps. I infer you saying “dropped” means the net or culvert with bear in it was released from the long line also. To do so meant the crew then had to land and retrieve the banged up culvert or messy net. Both these and the trip chockers were too valuable to leave behind.

    One time we had to helicopter an outfitters dead mule off the East shore trail because of the number of back country users on that trail. The day turned out very hot, so the pilot, worrying about power to haul that carcass, had to cut loose the sling half way to the intended drop zone. For a year any employee in to travel to this area was to search for this equipment.

    If a bear was supposedly to be dead it would have been a lot more feasible to land, drug the bear and then head out with equipment all neatly wrapped up.

    The only real reason I could see a sling being dropped mid flight was wind coming up and the load below doing a lot of swaying. This happened once to me but it was with a load of 16′ two by six’s heading to a cabin. The equipment was recovered.

    Through the years There were too many nets I had to pack out of the back country on mules. Fire cache DID NOT LIKE LOSING EQUIPMENT. Could the “bears being dropped alive” been something else. Maybe it was undercover FBI agents…just kidding.

  33. Bob Jackson –

    You seem to have forgotten me. I usually rode with Dee Smith on long pack trips in summer and early fall to/thru Thorofare and Bridger Lake-Wilson Camp beginning in the 70’s . I’ve got quite a few photos of you.

    You make some pretty heinous accusations towards someone who’s never packed a gun and never fired a shot and didn’t take part in hunts thereabouts . My guiding was done elsewhere than your YNP boundary territory. For Crossed Sabers ( only my second gig as paid mountain trash, still green ) I was a camp tender and took pack trains in and out , and was paid bear bait between hunts. I hired out just to be in the camps for photo ops and to document the mountain trash cowboy lifestyle. But as a spectator not a participant so I’d appreciate it if you’d not brand me guilty by association , for crimes against wildlife that I did not commit. FYI – also used to hire out to the mining companies on the South Fork at Needle Creek . I was gathering evidence of their illegality and desecrations all the while, in the working guise of prospector , surveyor, and driller. I would’ve damn sure done the same in Mountain Creek if ‘d known of any elk salting or illegal griz kills or other crimes. But I didn’t. All the talk about goings on concerned the way the agencies were moving bears around.
    I really don’t think it was any of Burt Bell’s / Crossed Sabers guides and wranglers who were salting elk on the south Park line and killing griz . But I won’t name names because you already know more of whom I speak than I do. (It was outfits from the Jackson Hole side of things, wasn’t it ?) Burt was actually one of the better outfitters I was ever around, but it was a low bar. The Thorofare was nefarious. The rest whose camps I frequented over the years were pretty much outlaws…lawbreakers all with only a couple exceptions. Sheep hunters the worst of all do to the high stakes and egos. And Jack K. was no saint, as you so clearly point out. Far from it. Good cowboy though , when he was actually working. He said he found pieces of the Swiss Miss and I had no reason to doubt him since he was running pack trips for Don Schmalz there in Pelican Valley at the time.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that nearly all outfitters, their guides, and wranglers are professional liars. For every Tory and Meredith there are 20 scallions. Comes with the territory. We can agree on that . I gave it all up in ’89 because I could no longer stand the company I had to keep…hunters, outfitters, and mountain trash. It was all a scam with a dearth of enforcement from any agency. We never had any trouble getting around them.

    I do hope you publish your little black book of backcountry confessions of poachers and epiphanies of the pine forest privateers, because I’d bet the green shirted tree cops and red shirted enforcers nailed maybe all of 1 percent of them. Even if the stories aren’t true or only semi-true ( but which half?) , they’re probably pretty good stories.

    The griz population in Yellowstone crashed from some much higher number down to maybe 132 bears at the bottom if you believe anyone’s numbers ( I don’t). Only the bears know but they ain’t talking. I’m pretty sure the bears did not kill each other wholesale. The mortality was man-caused by many vectors. For one thing, baiting bears with horse carcasses never really went away , nor did paid trophy hunts for grizzlies on Yellowstone’s rugged eastern boundary between the Little Lamar and Cooke City , roughly. Take your pick if yer running the boundary ridge…follow the old stone survey cairns or just navigate from horse bone to horse bone.

    Just try to get anyone to fess up.

  34. Ha Ha Ha Bob. Probably campground Czars instead of FBI.
    They were hauled in netting type material. and according to the pilots the cable just broke. There was some speculation that it was done ‘accidently on purpose’.
    The Culvert traps were used in my yard and out by the swamp where the bears to this day bed down. They used a snare just once while we were involved with them. Those are a nasty set up plus a little hard to ‘handle ‘ the bear.
    One of the ‘dropped’ bears happened in the park and east of Fir Ridge.
    We never had a bear die at our hands. We did, once, have a sow with two cubs, and one cub had a growth over the bottom of his jaw on the right side. Just skin up over his teeth. They didn’t know what it was from, nor do we know if it survived the winter.
    The bear that ate the camper had a bare patch on his right rump they took scrapings, and tested it and couldn’t figure out what had happened to him either. They said it didn’t act like a burn scar, nor was it ‘buggy’ just a bare patch about the size of a small dinner plate. But watching them in the dump sitting in the burning trash and eating away even when the spray cans exploded, it could well have been a burn. We called him Dum Dum. He was pretty skittish, and not liking the fact that momma gave him the boot. The guy he ate was sleeping in the same clothes he cooked in, had Pot in the tent, and a few other things that should never be practiced in bear country. Again the human paid for their mistake.

  35. I agree with Wild Bill that this bear had to go but the sensible thing to do now would be to ALSO move that campground away from the berry patch or eliminate it. Why leave a problem that might start again..

  36. “I was always taught Prevention is key.” [by Ann]

    Okay Ann, you’ve convinced me! Since last spring, I’ve monitored a den of fox very near our ranch house. Four finally emerged, and we watched them tumble and grow in our pasture. Fun. Three seem to have made it to juvenile stage, and now they walk our gated pipe each early morning, apparently more easily to get to the mice and vole in the pasture. I enjoy watching this balancing act as I sip my early coffee in the darkness.

    Ah, but alas, as we all know, rabies is indigenous to fox! And our small grandchildren will be visiting soon. A DEADLY COMBINATION!

    So Ann, per your admonition, I’m loading up the ole 12 gauge as I speak. Sure, it’s sad, [and probably illegal…] but I’m heading out into the pasture at first light to pump several loads of #4 birdshot into their cute but deadly asses!

    Thanks for the inspiration, Ann…

  37. Dewey,

    I am bad at remembering names. The only Dewey I know is the “Dewey Cox” from the movie, Walking Hard. My kind of movie. The two of you I do remember, especially as the guys with the hair on cowhide panniers.

    As for the cowboy lifestyle in those mts. we all want to have heroes and we all are influenced by the “environment” we keep. As a youngster in these camps I am sure you never put it together that outfitters and help could use any transplanting of griz as justification for looking the other way at not cleaning up their own griz drawing messes.

    Plus one has to realize before the listing for bears the outfitters killed all bears coming into camp. The change was bigger for them in attitude adjustment than it was with any closing of dumps or not allowing feeding of road side bears in the Park. The swagger mentality didn’t allow the outfitters to change. Thus, all the uproar in camp about “those helicoptered bears from the Park”.

    The only way they would change, poaching or camp clean up, was by putting the hammer down. That is how I treated it. When I went to Thorofare, catching poachers was easy, just like it was in the Parks Gallatin region when I first moved into there. The first survey in your country showed one couldn’t go a quarter mile along the boundary during hunting season without seeing fresh horse tracks going in and out.

    No poachers had been caught, (except for a guide who was turned in by a feuding outfitter…and the game warden, not the Ranger handled the case), in the forty years before I came to Thorofare. So, yes, you are right when you say very few poachers were ever caught by the “agencies”. I wish I had enough years to have gotten into the upper East boundary poaching areas. I guarantee it would have been payback time.

    The change in modfying hunting “boundaries and the even more important prevailing attitude of they could do whatever they wanted, was hard to take by the outfitters…. just like the bear regulations. Busting them and their help meant retaliation by them in a way only their type of world understood….. like poisoning my horses and spreading porcupine quills in the mule roll spots.

    I know you want to believe in some things, Dewey, and I would let you go on believing there had to be some good folks you worked with in all your years in the back country with these types…. but since you seem to be asking for verification from me, I will tell you the guys you mention, I consider in the same league as the rest of the poachers of the earth…that is as far as no respect for laws or the environment. There’s was an exploitive, extractive world, and as you know, the abuser always blames the abused.

    The longer these guys were back there the more this was ingrained. Those guys hated me and all I stood for. It was war for both sides.

    To get those “savvy” camp bosses (these were not the owners but rather the long time camp cowboys who usually were without regular jobs in the “outside” world), it took understanding that image was what they lived for. These were the guys I sought out because, just like the mother bear of this article teaching the young, they were the ones who passed on the dishonest life to young bucks.

    It took a couple younger guide poachers caught from a particular camp to draw the old boys out. To do this I would have to concentrate patrol that year on a single camp. The heads down boys would come back wimpering after trajedy in the Park, “It’s not like you said it would be Burt”…or whomever. The rest of the young studs, of course, thought the guy caught was just not up to snuff. Then I’d catch a second young en and others started to not believe in this “legend” who had supposedly moved at will in the Park killing all those elk, griz and sheep.

    The camp bosses honor and standing was at stake and then the real busting would unfold. These were the dramatic times and it took lots of concentration and focus to pull it off. Breaking them down on the spot was mostly a test of who had more personal strength at that time. They all physically cried, I will tell you that. Like beaten babies.

    Burt, I never caught, He left for a number of years before giving it the go again. I worked him then but he couldn’t travel to a lot of his old haunts. I did set him up for it, however. My fellow ranger did catch him…and. I think the legal outcome was being cited for firearm in the park and pushing elk out of the Park to guides and hunters out of the Park. It was within a mile or so from camp and on an easy part of the boundary. This is what Bert Bell had been reduced to in showing the boys how it could be done.

    Wish I could have been there. I would have waited a bit more before making contact. I don’t know that he ever came back to the mountains after that. And one other thing. Burt, ole boy, was known for his griz mauling story… when he went in on a griz wounded (legally shot) by his hunter. Truth, according to a guy I believe, is this seasoned salty man brought into the backcountry a 303 british enfield that he had never fired. Turned out it had a broken firing pin. Wounded bear charges and nothing happens. Ta Da.

    I use Burt, rest his soul, as only an example of what image was… and why it was so important for life back there by so many. i hope his sons didn’t pick up the same style of life.

    Salting went on everywhere, including Mt. Creek. Mt. Ck camp was a locked in area with little room for elk to live as residents. Plus it was too easy with any amount of hunting pressure to flush those elk out of this basin. Thus, the camp had to depend on elk coming out of the Park. Fine, when the snows come but what about most of the season. It was draw them out with illegal salt. Tinelle Basin, across the creek from the camp, has three illegal salts in its meadows. It is the area the camp uses to get all that film for outdoor programs. Mt. Ck., below the camp, even has a blind set up over the illegal salt. One time Forest Service guys, when coming up from the Park, packed up the loose salt (still not in solution yet) and dumped it on the camp doorsteps so to speak.

    Your Dike Creek travels, the place Burt got mauled, has one in the big meadow as you come over the ridge. As a packer you were within 250 yards of it. All those hunts guides from your camp took dudes every morning went directly to these salts. The owners and camp bosses told all who inquired further these were natural licks. Licks don’t happen on dry ground. They come out of seeps.

    Too long a narrative but I think you want to know. I am a bit concerned, however, about your statement,” We never had any trouble getting around them” (law enforcement agencies). I know you had to be a part of what was happening in order to document, but is the reason you didn’t pass on illegal activities afterwards was because you didn’t think you had anyone to go to that would do anything about it? Just wondering.

    And Monty, thank you .

  38. Beau; Whatever flutters your putter. How are you going to ‘handle’ the mosquito’s? After all they carry West Nile. You going to kill all the pigs in the area? With your reasoning it would keep your precious, (but obviously not so respectful/obediant) grandchildren from getting ‘swine flu’. Are you a leftist? A Czar of disease eradication? And people wonder why nothing gets done. Your grandkids better not go see you until the Bats have migrated, or you’ll be out there shooting ‘skeet'(bats) all night.
    Enjoy the killing spree!

  39. Wow, I never imagined this would turn into an Action Jackson thread. Fascinating. But if Dewey was really so much into documenting all of this, where’s the book?

  40. Two things that have not been addressed yet:

    1. Why should we applaud the tranquilizer OD of a grizzly cub as outlined in the title of this article?

    2. How did wiping out this grizzly bear family tangibly save other grizzly bears?

  41. Beau……so what guage do you use on bees? After all, bees kill an average of 20 people each year. And of course there’s snakes. Living in constant fear seems to be the norm in Montana.

  42. A couple of things to keep in mind about Bob “Axin'” Jackson (his self-endowed nickname):

    1) While Bob’s career contains more convictions for poaching that all other Yellowstone ranger’s combined, his ideas about “mountain trash” and unnecessary impacts are somewhat hypocritical. Bob himself has created illegal horse trails in the Thoroughfare. He also has illegally altered historic structures at the Thoroughfare RS, as well turned the RS into quite the backcountry “complex”, completely reducing the wilderness ethics of the place by creating his own, unsanctioned “improvements.”

    2)Bob has a history of verbal attacks upon his NPS colleagues, including fellow LE rangers, NPS maintenance, and backcountry trail crews. While criticism is often certainly justified toward many NPS employees, Bob’s arrogance and rudeness have left him with few real champions of his ideas in the NPS. In other words, to hear Bob tell it, he is just about the only NPS employee who wasn’t an idiot or corrupt.

    3) Maybe it’s unfair, but I take many of Bob’s claims with a grain of salt, for the following reason: Bob claims to have seen Bigfoot stalking a deer in the Thoroughfare.

  43. Oh, Finally a fight. always being a lowly seasonal ranger in Yellowstone the only way I could defend myelf was to answer the smear. I love it. Mr. Maintenance must of heard the Park Service rhetoric when they were trying to trash me before the Office of Special Council.

    His accusations come straight from the Parks charges to OSC. This had to do with the Park trying to terminate me and stop me from talking about the illegal salting going on in Thorofare country. Administration was 100% for me until dickie and his rogues in Interior pressured them to cover it up. You see Dickie was real good friends with one of the worst illegal salters of all (Brought in up to 2000# of salt per year to place at intervals for 15 miles along the boundary). Because of this association the Forest Service would do nothing against this outfitter.

    Yellowstone wasn’t as knowledgable as the Forest Service was of this association until the Washington DC boys stomped all over them. Then the Park abruptly shut down the accolades of me and started to tap my front country phone and opening my mail (including a package from Tom Brokaw).

    The story went nationwide for two years and with the help of my senator, environmental groups and PEER I won. In fact because of the outcome the boys of Washington cleaned house in the Park. Reductions of GS, early retirements, forced transfers to the forest service ….you name it. They also had a thousand cases thrown out at OSC. dickie and the boys were sore losers.

    I still remember negotiations in Washington when the OSC lady came back from the other room with the Parks initial volley, “Bob, they say they have a lot of stuff on you”. My reply, “They have nothing!!”

    So it is with Mr. Maintenance today.

    Start with number one, the one he is right with. Yes, I asked folks to call me to Axin Jackson. From my early Park days I was annointed Action Jackson by the nurses of Lake and my fellow back country comrades. I could ski, hike and catch poachers forever…. the nurses labeled for another reason…I was glad to leave the strict life of my Baptist upbringing and never had any problems with “Action”. But times were changing, the supt. no longer allowed Playboys in the back country cabins (where all the repressed administrative types went just to read those magazines…and yes, the Gal rangers said fair play was needed and thus put Play Girl magazine in every cabin) ….and I asked those addressing me with that to change it to Axin. I was always proud of what I could do with a double bitted axe.

    Some folks changed and others wanted to remember themselves through me. Thus Action also stayed. I just applied it to my present life.

    Number two.

    The horrible Thorofare improvements. The Thorofare station was a Ranger Station because it was so far from the road (32 miles). It still had its own subdistrict designation when I first was assigned there. The Thorofare had been there since the 1880’s. Since the “modernization” of America in the “50s knowledge of back country ways and needs slipped…a lot.

    The beloved Forest Service quit putting out their field guides on how to ride and pack and how to use things such as axes in the 50’s. Old way Yellowstone rangers retired and were being replaced by guys who didn’t care about the outdoors. They took things such as the PACE test to get in the NPS. I never forget my district ranger, someone I’d call a ***** backed individual, tell me on a back country trip that he could have either taken a job in Chicago tracking down VD leads with Social Services or work for the Park Service. He and a fellow high scoring PACE test guy checked out both. He decided on a career in the Park Service but 20 years later didn’t know if maybe the Chicago job shouldn’t have been pursued. Here he was, only a GS 11 and with VD he could have attained that within 3-4 years.

    On that trip he broke my favorite ax by missing a fallen 18” diameter lodgepole and on his solo way out he put the biggest wither sore on a horse anyone could. Yes, he road down a 2,000 ft drop in less than one mile like the sack of S***t he was.

    So, yes, if I deride some of the Park careerists as M&M;says I guess he is also right on that too.

    But on to the horrors. Thorofare had what it needed when rangers knew what was required to do the job, but since the 50’s each year it fell into more and more disrepair. The bottom logs of the cabin were rotted out because they were placed directly on the ground. The wood shed finally fell over and not replaced and the outdoor shower rusted out. The root cellar caved in and they filled it with trash. The 15 acre pasture, by default, was reduced to 3 from the original 15 and the corral was very dangerous because it had become smaller and smaller through the negligent years.

    All the past was documented with historic pictures and log entries and I asked the administrative and historical powers in Mammoth if we could start replacing these structures. With the help of SCA, trail crew and YACC we did a lot over the years. All projects were written up and went through all the neccessary channels. One can’t get crews for five weeks at a time without doing this, M&M;.

    M&M;must of forgot this or maybe he thinks I am herculean in what all was accomplished in Thorofare. The SCA and other crews were very proud of what had been done. They used it in their literature.

    The Supt. also had annual “death marches” with a lot of administration heads, and if any way possible, they included Thorofare in their ten day stint. They saw and complimented what was done. They even helped in finishing some of the projects. My latest supt., Mr. Finley, even went around Thorofare with me and noted what else was needed. When he got back to the front country he gave these needs to the maintenance head.

    Any variation from original historic structure went through a LOT of oversight. For example, the “platform tent” was meant to replace the wood-tool- shed ….. and wall tents that had been set up every year. We combined them to allow for a smaller imprint. Same location as the wood shed of the years before. Administration histoians and I combed the NPS books and used the platform tents of NPS in Alaska as the appropriate design concept. Plus Yellowstone already had similar structures…just on the ground and not bear proof, not in the air… in its SW corner. SCA put the platform up after the work was approved by Mammoth.

    There is a lot more of a rebuttal…all of it was written up and ready to go to trial if the Park tried to go ahead with their Dickie induced smear. But you get the jest of it. Seems like M&M;doesn’t.

    As for the illegal trails, the only ones I know about were put in by others in other areas of the Park. The only thing I did was reclear the sections after the 88 fires, all blazed and recorded for 80 years mind you, that were now impassable. These were ADMINISTRATIVE USE ONLY trails by the way and cleared only of debri one couldn’t go over or get around. They were for poacher patrol and had been put in (and continually used) by my fellow comrades for their patrol long ago. My district ranger and I did some on the boundary and I got approval to do what I did myself. We’re talking a afternoon of work here. Total distance was less than mile.

    I think M&M;needs to shift his attack on those multimile GENERAL PUBLIC use trails put in by others who had not one iota of approval from above…like Fan Ck, Mirror Plateau, Cub Creek and routes in the Bechler.

    as I said what M&M;is repeating is “evidence” the Park had compiled against me in their national defense case. He should have looked into it a bit himself…like read the Thorofare log books in the Mammoth Archives. They go back to 1938 and even have Bob Marschalls signature in them.

    How I wish the “govt.” had gone through with trying to use this “evidence” M&M;talks of. I could have nailed everyone of those bastards who submitted these items (in order to gain favor at the moment) when the park was compiling this material.

    I’d have to summize ….when it came down to their lawyers asking for the nitty gritty proof of these horrorable transgressions was when it all fell apart for the Park. Thus, the consequent hits on the Yellowstone Administration from Washington after me “winning”.

    If anyone wants to read more on the outcome just go to the internet and google “Bob Jackson, park ranger”. Look under “Yellowstone ranger vindicated…” by Cat Lazaroff of the Washington Star ….if you don’t want to see all the pages of articles on it.

    And another thing. I’d say M&M;is also right when he says there are those in Yellowstone who are adverse to my name…or what I stand for. Even as of two years ago, whenever I came into the Park the word still goes with a pat on the back to whomever reports my presence to those wanting to know in Park administration. And if a ranger or biologist wants to talk with me today there are still too many who are looking over their shoulder to make sure the coast is clear. This case was in 2002 and they are such sore losers.

    Why would folks like M&M;be like they are. I guess, for one, they have to degrade anyone who unlike them, has the conviction to say things as they are…and not capitulate to unjust powers. Everyone in Yellowstone knows what is happening there and too many employees hold their mouths shut and just get bitter. How do they face themselves? they can’t. They adjust by trying to knock down those that don’t bend over. Or maybe it is for another reason. Maybe it is like the movie, animal house. To paraphrase in the Animal House trial, “Some rangers long ago may have had too much fun with ….. (I suggest filling in the blank with whatever hits your fancy…and then replace the name of M&M;with Dean Vernon Wormer”. then you get the reason for lives like M&M;’s. Oh, Ta Da, Ta Da

    P.S. How did you find it in yourself to put down I had caught more poachers than all the rest combined, M&M;?

    P.S.S. Oh, One last thing, look for me on TV some time soon, M&M;. It’s going to be with that BIGFOOT thing. Stay tuned.

  44. Well, I guess I’ll have to get cable to see Bob & Bigfoot on TV together…

    Otherwise, my comments have nothing to do with the smears etc. that Bob alludes, too. They have to do with on ground experience, coupled with real time thoughts, actions and opinions of Bob’s NPS colleagues.

    Can’t really add too much–I’m confident that Bob can carry on the “fight” all by himself.

  45. So “Noaction” is trying to be the victim. Anyone with the well heeled enviros and Finley who is famed for irrigating Old Faithful area with broken sewer line sewage, was no victim.

  46. Well, I’ve never been in the upper Thorofare, although I have been to Old Man Lake. In fact someday, I really, really hope I have time to make it over into upper Nyack Creek that way. At least I doubt you’d run into any poachers up that way. Who knows, though…?
    All I know is this is some of the damnedest stuff I’ve read in quite a while. “Entertaining” doesn’t even come close… This is stuff that really happened, that leaves the Spectator Culture completely in the dust.
    Getting back to this bear and her cubs, though…
    I can see both sides, although my faith in wildlife “management” continues to erode. And killing this bear and one of her cubs (and sending the other one to a zoo!) doesn’t leave me with a good feeling.
    Personally, I’ve had more grizzly encounters between Lone Mountain and Fan Mountain than the rest of the places I go put together. And so I just kind of bear that in mind, so to speak, that maybe I’m not the dominant species in that neighborhood.

  47. Bill;
    Very well put.

  48. To Bob Jackson, Dewey, and others:
    I guided in mountain creek in the late 1980’s and saw no salt being placed, nor hunted any “salt licks”. The outfitter there at the time and up until this year, did not participate in such endeavors. Or if he did he was so damn good at it none of us knew about it and he never told a soul. I think the former. The elk hunting was tremendous without poaching or illegal acts. I also guided on the Yellowstone river near the Thorofare and know salting was common practice all over the place, although the blocks or loose salt was placed well before the hunters and guides came to camp. I discovered a few, I found 2, well hidden salt locations. The outfitters apparently saved these secret places for “select” clients and didn’t share with most guides. Most of my associates were not trash, they were good people who loved the wilderness, and the money guiding hunters provided allowed a sort of free life style that is not found elsewhere. A couple were crazy losers and were let go. Once again I see DV leaping to his grand oblique generalizations of people, showing his hatred of anyone who wears a cowboy hat, and in effect his own history. Dewey is such a negative person with so much ability gone to waste…….As for Bob, what can I say that hasn’t been said? He is what he is, another colorful character in a remote area that both bred and drew and celebrated characters. He can’t be wrong all the time I reckon. And now he’s gone from a badge and a gun, and attitudes have changed for the positive in YNP backcountry (enforcement has stepped up in a bit more polite manner), and Bob is living in remote Iowa I believe. I’m still here and will be on a wilderness sheep hunt in two weeks with some of my trash friends. Let’s see, of the four of us three are professionals pulling down a good income, and the other one is way beyond our means, but we wear cowboy hats, hunt, and that is a sure fire give away that we are trash. Hopefully Bigfoot stays away from camp…..don’t want him getting into the $60 bottle scotch…….

  49. Dear Codycountry—

    When you positively identify a big game outiftter with integrity, please let me know so I can marvel at this rarest of rare creatures of the Absarokas. The last one I worked with was Henry Purvis up the South Fork when he was 82 years old. That was in 1976, the last time Henry rode in. The other four “outfitters ” that had him surrounded up there were pretty bad. Same same for the camps in the Thorofare… all of them got busted for the full spectrum of offenses against fellow man and nature. I gave up wanting to be anywhere near commercial hunting after a notorious sheep poaching incident in Fishhawk in 1989 that you may have heard about. What got me so down on outfitters and guides with few exceptions was hanging around the canvas and leather shop run by my on-off girlfriend for ten years. Every piece of mountain trash came thru that shop with something needed fixing, and they all talked liberally of their exploits and what they’d gotten away with or to stab another guy in the back or to mark their territory with bragging rights. Quite the clearinghouse. And they were nowhere near a barstool or trailhead when they bared their souls to the pretty blonde stitchwithes.

    I can only think of a couple of outfitters I would even begin to recommend these days. Which is sad, since I grew up in the shadow of giants like our neighbor and my dad’s close friend Max Wilde and listening to the stories from Roy Glasgow and Bob Rumsey and their peers. That’s my baseline for judging outfitters. Nobody much measures up these days.

    You can call me negative if you wish, but I would respond by saying cynicism is what’s called power of observation by those who do not have it…

    The Thorofare , all of Mountain Creek/Howell Fork / Trident , and Snake River headwaters and upper Yellowstone River should never have been mapped out of Yellowstone Park. If you recall, Yellowstone was originally just a vague dotted line drawn to make a square in the mountains f the Wyoming territory. The boundaries weren’t even fixed till 1929 when the east side of the Lamar was finally incorporated. The south line and southeast east straight line boundaries are more arbitrary and do not reflect anything on the ground. ( The west boundary of Yellowstone is also a joke, but that’s out of my territory and knowledge). Had we put Yellowstone Park’s boundaries where they should have been , we might not be having this conversation today.

    As is, I also have yet to meet a modern backcountry Yellowstone Ranger who’s worth his own salt or even belongs in the widerness. Whatever criteria the Park Service uses to gleen ranger stock, it’s failed big time. College wonders , yes, but far from the real westerners and contemporary mountain men they so sorely need.

    Yellowstone is 137 years old now . Almost the first hundred years were atrocious examples of how NOT to manage a Park as anything close to working wilderness and ecological capital. What went on immediately outside Yellowstone in the national forest lands was Multiple Abuse , not the least of which was the “management” of big game hunting. But at least it wasn’t as bad as the era of Market Hunting and downright sodomy of the mountains that preceeded it. If you doubt my opinion on that , read Osborne Russell’s “Journal of a Trapper” daily diary ( unabridged edition if you can find it) from his 9 years of traversing the Rocky Mountains where he describes in excruciating detail the actual conditions of the Rockies from 1843-1934 when only a few dozen white men worked the hills from the headwaters of the Colorado to the future Canadian border. Then you’ll realize how much we have altered or damaged the mountains to get where we are today. As I write this, I fear that our grizzly population is on the verge of a severe downturn from yet another year of overkill and junks science and lousy bureaucrats plus some really bad men prowling the mountains for personal gain who think they are entitled to a living courtesy of the public’s investment in the greatest idea America has ever produced: wilderness and parks

    The sow Grizzly and her cub that started this thread?—-did not need to die in that manner for those reasons. It only reinforces my beliefs that we humans are not really competent when it comes to managing our natural resources if there’s a few bucks to be made exploiting wildlife . In fact, the more we learn about wildlife the less we seem to know. Ask a wolf.

  50. Dewey,
    The great bears have now filled up the Great Shining Mountains ecosystem, at least in our part of Wyoming. Please note a sow with two cubs recently attacking a man in the desert, at Robertson draw, five miles from the nearest tree. Pity she had to die to save the mans life. Why do you think she was there? Likely she was a good mother protecting her cubs from all the male grizz up on Bennett or Line or numerous other creeks on the Beartooth plateau. Male grizzlys kill the young bears, you know? They don’t eat them, they just puncture their little heads with their canine teeth and drop them. I’ve found several. Strange behavior for a species that is so threatened, eh? Why do you suppose the males kill the cubs? What kind of survival adaptation could it be? Elimination of competition for future forage? Species didn’t evolve for the hell of it. Ah, call Chuck Neal, I’m sure he has the answer. The bear that was killed up by Clark moved out of a fully filled bear ecosystem to protect her cubs. The bus, the magic bus, Further, is filled here in Cody country now with the mega fauna. People to me are more important than bears, and even though I had several beers with Ed Abbey and followed his wild country paradigm for most of my adult life, I’ve come to the conclusion that the plan should be that people’s lives are more important than the bear. At least most people’s. The ones that deserve to meet the bear head on are mostly elected officials who do not usually cohabit bear country anyway. Add the lobby groups that file all the lawsuits and live back east or a long way from those of us that live and interact normally quite well with grizzly. The most amazing thing is how tolerant the bears are with people, having not been legally shot at (hunted) in Wy since 1972.
    Sodomy of the mountains? HA! Try talking about sodomy of the US Constitution currently if you want to speak of something of intrinsic value.
    Strange you mentioned it, but I’ve got Osborne Russell’s book packed for spare time reading on the sheep hunt. It will be the first time I’ve read it in nearly a decade, but at U.W. in my western literature class I first opened it thirty years ago, and have read it several times since. Perhaps it will give me new insight now knowing there is some sort of secret message hidden in there. Bigfoot!
    You are a lot of fun intellectually, quit being soooooo negative, and put your artistic powers to work, again. The grizzly is doing very well in the eastern part of Yellowstone ecosystem. Celebrate all the cool people you have known and how blessed you have been in your life in Cody Wyoming. If you don’t ride, don’t hunt, don’t spend time in the wilderness around here, then how the hell are you qualified to speak? Another Irma barstool fountain of knowledge, in my estimation, minus the Irma part.
    If nothing else—It’s about time for another “Boobyprise”.

  51. Dewey,
    One more thought:
    “Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen subjectively to the howl of the wolf”. from Aldo Leupold “Thinking like a Mountain”
    I actually remembered something from college…………

  52. cooty country,

    I know it is hard to admit to yourself that all that “excellent” guiding you did and all those palm leaves you laid in front of your hero river boat gambler boss on Mt. Ck. was a time period where you were HAD day in day out!!! …..all tainted with the lie of fakery…but it was. Yes, what you were “had” with was no different than somebody being so proud of stalking and then bagging a “wily” royal head, and then when, there you are….. in the middle of so proudly telling all, everyone there, all the pranksters, everyone in collusion, lets you know they had hamstrung that elk so he couldn’t get away. Every time you packed an elk back to camp and were so proud …..remember you had a boss who knew the real reason you got this animal.

    Yes, you got HAD at that camp and most all the elk you guided on……. in an area you should have wondered why the elk hunting was so “tremendous” for the amount of area there was. Yours was the same type of hunting as scorned by most hunters….guiding for game farmed elk behind fences.
    Ya, you and the Cody rodeo heel grinders were feeling so good at giving a quality experience to those pawns in the rigged game called fair chase outfitting.
    Didn’t you ever once wonder why all those elk kept hanging around the bottoms of Dike Ck.? So much pressure, a pack trail going right along it and all open?…. but every hunt more came out of the Park for you to kill?

    Your hero camp placed the salt in August, and one year there was a torrential cloud burst within a week of when it was placed. It wiped out the trail and lots of debri was left on the bottoms. There had been so much salt placed upstream on the stream banks that for three weeks the elk licked all the sand bars.

    The whole creek each year in August and the first hunt had such a sweet smell. Did you not have a nose? Did your riding horse not want to lower his head and start EATING, yes EAT, NOT LICKKKK the 30×40′ barren area below your camp on the Dike Ck. – Mt. Ck. confluence. You went by it at least every third day on your way guiding to Tinelle. And when your horse stopped, or your pack horse pulled the lead rope out of your hand to stop there, did you just think they wanted to roll? Did you not smell this molasses again later in the season when the KILLING FIELDS were “freshened up” again?

    The whole wilderness area was so full of molasses and its smell, but maybe the desire to have that “free life style” meant you stuffed your nose up with Red Man chaw so you did not have to admit it.

    Your river boat gambler was a little shrewder than most of the other real “cowboys”. You see, by placing salts on the dry slopes of the stream bank most of his salts were not given way with depressions …. as compared to his illegal salts on Tinelle meadows…..the ones you yourself must have wondered why those bare earth depressions were there as you rode within 5′ of them.

    No I guess you didn’t want to question anything when you wanted those hunter tips and an invigorating life style.

    The slope salts always had elk pounding the ground to cover up most of the licking going on. Next time you and your “professional” buddies get up that way look at the very top of those slopes, right next to the grass. Here is where all the evidence of undisturbed licking was.

    I guess you had no need to question why you always found those elk in this spot…unless, of course, you just might think, “Hummmm, I am trying to become the best guide possible, the most knowldgeable of animals ways, and I should find out why these elk bolt from this bare creek bank every time I take my hunter here”.

    As I said your hero would come in with a very small party in August. Maybe three guys and a lot of salt laden pack animals. They rightly preferred a mix of loose brown mineral salt and molasses. And as you know, one has to pass through a bit of Park to get to Mt. Ck. camp …..and thus all I had to do was follow horse tracks after they left to find the salts.

    The elk (and the sheep he salted on the side of the Trident) could smell this laced salt from miles away. Within a day of him placing, elk tracks would fill the bottoms of Mt. Ck. (in the Park) and they would run inmass upstream following the sweetness.

    Where you worked had more molasses than any cattle feedlot in Kansas. I have pictures of my horse EATING this dirt. The photo of this was in a lot of newspapers. I have photos of lots of salt licks in Mt. Ck.

    God, how do you have such a state of denial?

    Please, please enjoy yourself on this up and coming high country sheep hunt…and rest assured whereever you hunt most every bighorn sheep taken has been game farm inprinted. Maybe you will get lucky and stumble onto one of these high elevation farm fields with a salt fenced sheep waiting for you and your wily hunter friends to bag. Maybe you should just get rid of the Red Man and follow your nose. That isn’t high alpine flowers you smell when there’s snow on the ground. Maybe the sheep you bag will turn out to have the sweetest tasting molasses flavored meat you could ever imagine.

    When you do kill this big game trophy just remember I will be there to raise my shot glass over my shoulder saying, “job well done my so naive friend”.

  53. For “codycountry” and the benefit of anyone who has not read it, here’s the text of Aldo Leopold’s “Thinking like a mountain “. It’s right up there with the Gettysburg Address and 23rd Psalm for short succinct prose with purpose. What Leopold writes here concerning Wolves applies as much to Grizzlies , et al ….

    Thinking Like a Mountain
    by Aldo Leopold

    ӬA deep chesty bawl echoes from rimrock to rimrock, rolls down the mountain, and fades into the far blackness of the night. It is an outburst of wild defiant sorrow, and of contempt for all the adversities of the world. Every living thing (and perhaps many a dead one as well) pays heed to that call. To the deer it is a reminder of the way of all flesh, to the pine a forecast of midnight scuffles and of blood upon the snow, to the coyote a promise of gleanings to come, to the cowman a threat of red ink at the bank, to the hunter a challenge of fang against bullet. Yet behind these obvious and immediate hopes and fears there lies a deeper meaning, known only to the mountain itself. Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of a wolf.
    Those unable to decipher the hidden meaning know nevertheless that it is there, for it is felt in all wolf country, and distinguishes that country from all other land. It tingles in the spine of all who hear wolves by night, or who scan their tracks by day. Even without sight or sound of wolf, it is implicit in a hundred small events: the midnight whinny of a pack horse, the rattle of rolling rocks, the bound of a fleeing deer, the way shadows lie under the spruces. Only the ineducable tyro can fail to sense the presence or absence of wolves, or the fact that mountains have a secret opinion about them.
    My own conviction on this score dates from the day I saw a wolf die. We were eating lunch on a high rimrock, at the foot of which a turbulent river elbowed its way. We saw what we thought was a doe fording the torrent, her breast awash in white water. When she climbed the bank toward us and shook out her tail, we realized our error: it was a wolf. A half-dozen others, evidently grown pups, sprang from the willows and all joined in a welcoming melee of wagging tails and playful maulings. What was literally a pile of wolves writhed and tumbled in the center of an open flat at the foot of our rimrock.
    In those days we had never heard of passing up a chance to kill a wolf. In a second we were pumping lead into the pack, but with more excitement than accuracy: how to aim a steep downhill shot is always confusing. When our rifles were empty, the old wolf was down, and a pup was dragging a leg into impassable slide-rocks.
    We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes – something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.
    Since then I have lived to see state after state extirpate its wolves. I have watched the face of many a newly wolfless mountain, and seen the south-facing slopes wrinkle with a maze of new deer trails. I have seen every edible bush and seedling browsed, first to anaemic desuetude, and then to death. I have seen every edible tree defoliated to the height of a saddlehorn. Such a mountain looks as if someone had given God a new pruning shears, and forbidden Him all other exercise. In the end the starved bones of the hoped-for deer herd, dead of its own too-much, bleach with the bones of the dead sage, or molder under the high-lined junipers.
    I now suspect that just as a deer herd lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain live in mortal fear of its deer. And perhaps with better cause, for while a buck pulled down by wolves can be replaced in two or three years, a range pulled down by too many deer may fail of replacement in as many decades. So also with cows. The cowman who cleans his range of wolves does not realize that he is taking over the wolf’s job of trimming the herd to fit the range. He has not learned to think like a mountain. Hence we have dustbowls, and rivers washing the future into the sea.

    We all strive for safety, prosperity, comfort, long life, and dullness. The deer strives with his supple legs, the cowman with trap and poison, the statesman with pen, the most of us with machines, votes, and dollars, but it all comes to the same thing: peace in our time. A measure of success in this is all well enough, and perhaps is a requisite to objective thinking, but too much safety seems to yield only danger in the long run. Perhaps this is behind Thoreau’s dictum: In wildness is the salvation of the world. Perhaps this is the hidden meaning in the howl of the wolf, long known among mountains, but seldom perceived among men.

  54. I have been looking for a photo of the Old Man Lake bear. I want it as kind of a memorial to her. Does anyone have such a photo. It would seem strange that if this bear has been so fearless and close to people for all these years there would be hundreds of photos of her, but I can not seem to find any. Please direct me if you can.

  55. The problem with Grizz and people is that Grizz don’t like them. So if you want a Grizz population, you have to not have a human population in the area you want Grizz. The best areas are the interior of areas where people just are not. National Parks play a role. But they have too many people through them. Wilderness could play a role, but you still have too many people through them. That leaves the large private holdings surrounded by public roadless lands. They just might be the best place to have Grizz away from people. The kind of person who owns that kind of real estate usually has no interest in sharing it with people. Unless, of course, the person is a developer like Blixeth. Then Grizz is last on his list. But, whatever we do, we cannot leave large private landowners out of the process and loop to keep Grizz alive and well.

  56. The park service tried covering up the bear cub slaying today by saying the cub cut it’s jugular vein. Then, a few hours later they decided to edit their press release and admitted to shooting the bear cub in the jugular vein with the dart(or too close to it).

    Stil think we should “applaud” this action as the title of the article indicates?

    What kind of “pro” shoots a bear cub in the jugular?

  57. What happened to M&M;and cooty country?

    Come on M&M;, those “pound and ground experiences you had… coupled (I like that word)….with real illusionary thoughts, actions and ‘like its only your opinion, man’ of Bob’s Oxford colleagues” COUPLED with cooty’s bowing before outfitter mecca to validate his life …..all I can say is what Mia said to Vincent Vega at Jackrabbit Slim’s (in the movie Pulp Fiction),…… when Vincint inquired as to whether Marsellus killed Tony Rocky Horror because he gave her a foot massage. Mia’s reply, “when you little scamps get together its worse than a sewing circle”.

  58. Still no hard evidence as to how slaughtering this grizz family saved other bears.

    Still waiting…….

  59. Ursine Eugenics…played for Boston College in the ’50s.

  60. You can’t drill for oil on the slope because it will have negative effects on the environment, you don’t want the state and the feds selling oil and gas leases because of adverse effects on the enviroment (nobody has produced real solid truthful evidence of this) but you will codone the killing of a mother bear and her cubs because people are getting to close to her. So why not shut the public off from the areas where the bears are? After all, out of state environmental groups have gotten real good at shutting everything else in this state down.

  61. Because the dirty little truth is that is a hiker (enviro) campground, and every thing they do is good irregardless, so the bears had to go.

  62. As this self-righteous fellow keeps wining:

    By Mike, 8-25-09
    Still no hard evidence as to how slaughtering this grizz family saved other bears.

    Still waiting…….

    If you want hard evidence, read Night of the Grizzly: Several bears were killed because of the crimes of two bears. Park mgmt was panicked into action and killed several innocent bears in the process of killing the two guilty ones. They did the right and necessary thing then and they did the right thing this time.

    Or read the history of westward expansion: Thousands of grizzlies were killed because a few bears attacked humans.

    Look, you really don’t know what you are talking about. You don’t know brown bears, you don’t know human nature, and you somehow think bears have more rights or a senior title to the land than people.

    I am a Blackfeet Indian and we kid (though it is true) that no Blackfeet in modern times has been killed by a Grizzly. Yesterday I was talking to another Tribal member and mentioned that I was a little worried about all the bear activity around my Babb home and that, with little kids around, I might have to shoot a bear if it came near (I’m not going to stand there with bear spray –which I also carry– and wait to see if a charge is a bluff –I’ll be dead about the same time I learn the answer). A hunter was charged by a big old male bear on my property 2 years ago and was forced to fire, so bear encounters do sometimes turn ugly. Not often, but sometimes…and the bear decide which, not the human.

    Anyway the Tribal member expressed the sentiment I always hear from us Indians: “If the bear bothers you, you have to kill him, just like you would if a bad man attacked your family.” He also said, “We’ve probably been too nice to the bear, perhaps out of deference to non-Indians. One Tribal child mauled and the local bear population will “mysteriously” disappear” he said. And I think his viewpoint is prevalent on the reservation.”

    I had a similar conversation with an elder in the little restaurant on 89 near Thorsons a few weeks ago. “What do I do if I am forced to kill one” I asked…call F&W;?” “Are you nuts? Dig a hole real fast and forget it happened.”

    So listen, Mr. high-minded nature boy from the city, take it from someone who belongs to a people that loves the bear and has forever shared the land with him: If you want the bear to survive, you have to kill the bad ones before public (or Tribal) sentiment turns against all bears. Otherwise watch them disappear. It has happened before, it can happen again.

    I might mention that in Glacier during peak season, the human population is dozens per square mile near the trails. On my property, right next to Glacier, it is maybe 1 person per 5 or 10 square miles. So the bears that come near me may be trying to avoid people, which makes us all the more nervous in encounters.

  63. Bill: You’re right on in your analysis of how Glacier handled the habituated sow and her two yearlings.

    Some friends and I recently camped up near Bliss Pass in Yellowstone and had a grizzly sow with three cubs of the year appear 150 yards away from our site. However, when we alerted her to our presence (we had been sitting out of view eating dinner), this mother showed a healthy disdain for us and retreated to the forest. The family eventually returned to the meadow and continued to forage about 300 yards off and moving down creek away from us.

    Unlike the Glacier bear, this one showed sense, and her caution and distrust of us was obvious. We slept well the two nights we spent in her home. I couldn’t imagine sleeping in a tent with the Old Man Bear nearby.

  64. So why not close back country camping to accomodate grizzlies in “the wilderness”, it seems reasonable to suppose bears in back country are there to try to avoid humans. There is no amount of sacrifice that ordinary folks cannot be expected to give in in the name of protection, including pets and thousands of dollars worth of livestock. On the other hand enviros cannot be expected to give up a camp trip in grizzly territory.

  65. Bob Jackson,
    I’ve been in the wilderness for the last few days, and will be for a lot more upcoming, doing good non-consumptive and quite legal work and enjoying the wildlife. Wolf and grizzly bear viewing included. I hope the Iowa corn is growing tall as you continue your self endowed “legend” status. What venom and hate of local culture and untruths you spew. If you think your words are a threat to me you are just kidding yourself. That’s why you are no where near this place you claim to love so much. You could not handle it if you lived here. People who live here would not put up with your crap anymore now that the badge is gone. You ran away scared. No wonder they threw you out of Yellowstone, and in fact, out of Wyoming. We need to boot more of your kind out of this country. Your hate of pretty much everything should be apparent to all who read your posts. I truly doubt you even care about wildlife. You just care about your own notoriety. PS I am ex-Federal law enforcement and know a bit about the process. You were a rude, irritating, arrogant SOB when I met you on the trail, and for no reason at all……..and,,,,,I did reply…… out for Bigfoot when they combine the Iowa corn……..they’ll be looking for cover.

  66. Thanks Dewey. Hair on ‘ya. It is good reading the whole thing again. They used to teach that stuff at UW to wildlife management majors. I wonder what they teach today?

  67. Codycountry

    Why, these days they teach game ranching. That’s what it’s all about, that and privatizing and commercializing the commons. There’s a lot of profit in artificial antlers. There’s disease too, but who cares about that?


  68. Thanks, Edwin, for so expertly answering Mike’s question.

    Mike, I’ve been gone fishing since this column came out, but I suggest you just re-read the last part of the commentary. It’s all there. We must do what we need to do to prevent maulings to keep our tolerance for having grizzly bears at a high level, not to mention saving some backpacker’s life aka Trout Lake and Granite Park of 1967 and Swiftcurrent Campground of 1976 and others.

    Right now, I believe most people welcome the thought of the grizzly roaming wild and free in the wilds of Glacier and other remote mountain ranges in the northern Rockies. We need to make sure that never changes.

    I revere grizzly bears as much as you do, but this was the right thing to do.


  69. So what were campers doing at Old Man Lake if there was a “dangerous griz” in the area.

    Looks like a set up.

  70. cooty,

    Cooty, If you remember my discussion with you was addressing why your refusal to acknowledge all the salt and molasses oozing around you on the Mt. Ck. drainage ….. and thus the ease, because of this, in you procuring elk for your clients. Do you still think this camp did not salt …no different than the camps in the Thorofare? You are in a state of denial if you don’t…which leads me to believe you are probably basing too much of your “western” identity on the need for a Walty Mitty utopian type of life.

    As for me getting thrown out of Yell. you must have not read any of the news accounts, not even the one you could have read the other day by googling the Washington release I told of in an earlier post.

    Thus I have to inferr you just want to believe the same as you need to to make your life still another form of this Walter Mitty path of life.

    All this documented “evidence” makes you look fairly foolish by saying things such as I “getting thrown out of the Park”. As it was when I was exonerated of all I said and I won the Washington boys cleaned house in Yellowstone. Those initiating the slander and libel were the ones “thrown out” not me. And since you try to stick with the fallacies, again I must say you are the one living a life of image…not me.

    As far as scared I must remind you I caught a lot of your cowboy peers poaching in those thirty years and most all of them were armed incidents well away from any reinforcements. Your peers did do a lot of intimidating of law boys in this country I will admit this …they would literally pick rangers up off the ground in this wilderness in times of confrontation and illegal activities. The violated ranger(s) would not radio me this when it happened and I’d have to find it out from the guides I caught down the trail (they’d try the same intimadating on me the first years).

    Only after these incidents would I confront the ranger and let him know it was ok if he was outgunned in the back country…but then he had the obligation to tell other rangers.

    Your “professional” peers tried a lot of ways to get me out. I always had to check every roll spot for porcupine quills with a flashlight after riding in after dark. The “boys” tried to poison my horses twice. My riding horse came real close to death one time. The guide had come in the middle of the night and laid out an Army poncho with laced grain on it. Another time they came to the back of the lean to barn and threw it the cubes in on a rolled up grain sack. I got to it just in time.

    One of the Thorofare hunting outfitters charged his horse at me when I was staked out on the PARK SIDE of the boundary not 200 yards from the G and F cabin. I stayed my ground and was wishing he would not of pulled up from a rein wiping run not two feet in front of me. I was so close to sidestepping and yank down on his reins (too many years of being a pitcher and having it ingrained what to do when a batter charges the mound). He then accused me of wrecking their hunting (over illegal salt mind you) and as I was walking away he threatened me with getting shot someday. I said, “then it had better be with the first shot.

    I could have reported this to the law above. Legally this outfitter was in a world of hurt. (and it was witnessed by his two Texas hunters, who under oath would have spilled the beans). You don’t try this thing on an officer without going to jail. But I was in this for the long term and one and one is what these guys understood.

    I had this man and his hunter cry a couple of years later. You see, they shot an elk in the Park no more than 50′ from where I staked out on the first incident. He was the one who sold out and left the country, soon after. He became too paranoid to live the life of swagger anymore. Thus, he left a beaten man and the good of the resource was much more positively impacted than if I had turned him into the law for the charging incident.

    After some years of nailing your buds it actually became easier…because of the FEAR you talk about. The outfitter of the life you so wanted to have the Walter Mitty experience to draw on even responded once to me when I was interrogating him with an elk just shot 3 miles in the Park with, “which one”. He was ready to confess to the lesser of evils and I didn’t even know of the other one.

    So would people in your Walter Mitty world “put up with my crap”. I guess they did whether I had a badge or not since it made little difference to them if law enforcement in general had legal authority.

    I retired when federal govt. mandates of the time said I could no longer legally shoot bad guys after the age of 57. Why stay around and “volunteer” like other backcountry rangers who, like you, also identified, with the image of, not the substance of that life.

    It was back to the farm full time where I had split half of each year with ranger duties for 30 years.

    Your red neck propensity to talk of kicking out of the country all not like you does not make you look very good, by the way.

    And P.S. you being ex federal law enforcement matches a lot of the same, types I saw “enforcing” the laws back there. They were the ones who defended the life style of the Old West to the max. The worst salts of all surrounded the G&F;cabin in Thorofare. The outfitters had no respect for G&F;. They would rest their guns on the log walls for better shots on their illegal wilderness baited elk.Your law dogs would keep Park poaching information from me not share it like I would of them. A number of their citations for illegal hunting back in this wilderness was because I’d catch the outfit camps in the Park and then the violations would extend outside of the Park…like the outditter you probably worked for in Thorofare (the one who kept a few hidden salts for his own clients). I caught him shooting a mountain lion way up on the cliffs of the Trident. He had stuffed the skinned carcass into a crevass but the ravens and eagles gave it away a couple of days later.

    I tracked him to this camp where he had bragged about shoting this lion with, ” **** gets pussy” written boldly on the back of the hunter lodge tent. Now how does one get out of this one. You don’t. But he also said he had a state of Wyoming lion tag…which, of course, he didn’t . Your local law dogs cited him for this after I gave them the info and the Forest Service put him on double secret probation.

    One more thing. He was voted in as Wyoming Outfitter president that same year and one of his employees was voted ” Wyoming guide of the year”. Only thing was this guide could only wrangle that year because his guide license had been taken away by the G&F;for repeat violations. He was the one who stole the chiseled Parks hundred fify pound SE corner boundary stone. He so hated what the Park stood for, and by extension me.

    Ya, you are part of some fine Walter Mitty life style, yes sere. Please tell me more so I can “brag” some more as you call it. When I was alone in those woods all this time defense to statements like yours is the only way it all comes out. Please, please do write out more vile.

    Maybe you can start with telling me more of how I was so rude to you. Were you the one with the German shepard in the back country on Mt. Ck. trail who claimed it wasn’t yours and it had just followed along from the Eagle Ck. Trail head (20 miles and two days later)? Then I told you and your Cody riding group “if that is so I only had I no option but to shoot it” beings it was so far from the front country? Then you yelled, ” some people are worse than dogs”. Was that it? Maybe something else, maybe?

    As I said, I’ll tip my shot glass over my shoulder your way as you savor that $60 bottle of Scotch. Your coveted life and life style becomes more obvious the more you let me talk of it. Your life has nothing to do with REAL life in the WEST or MID WEST for that matter.

  71. Bill

    Not that the public cares much for this argument, but as an old soldier and woodsman I know as well as anyone that when it’s your time, it’s your time. I’ve made it through some bad times in the Army and since then I’ve spent I don’t know how many months in bear country with nary a scratch and only one bona fide bear encounter. Other people don’t make it at all, either in the Army or in bear country, and others have had far more bear “encounters” than I’ve had. Old dame fortune really does call the shots. All skill does is even the odds a little, although it does seem that most of the people who run into bears and get hurt, like the retired Maryland policeman who got mauled near Clark, Wyoming, earlier this summer, didn’t know what they were doing and had made little effort to learn. Sometimes it takes a little trouble to learn. Or maybe all trouble does is make people more ignorant. When I look at the anti-bear/wolf crowd, I see an awful lot of ignorance and twisted perception.

    In short, it’s not clear to me at all that by killing the Oldman Lake grizz that we’ve made things “safer” for people. It’s all perception, and I’ve been around long enough to know that perception is rarely truth. The whole “night of the grizzlies” narrative is just plain BS, a form of eco-porn. I’m certainly not willing to countenance killing very rare bears to make people “feel” better. Unfortunately, a bureaucrats and politicians deal in is perception. And we lose bears because of it.


  72. Robert;
    I agree with you. Killing that bear and her cub, (never in all the bears we trapped and collared did I EVER see anyone try to tranquilize a bear from the front, {INSANE}) has basically given people a false sense of security, thus allowing them to ‘think’ the woods are safe. Only to have some fool do something stupid, and get themselves either killed or hurt. When are humans going to wake up, and realize, they need to ALWAYS be aware no matter where they are, in the forest or walking down the street in suburbia USA.

  73. Robert,

    I couldn’t have said it as well. right on!! I agree we shouldn’t kill rare bears to make people feel better. Even the thought process that if we have a problem we can take care of it (for humans)diminishes the value of bears in all humans eyes.

  74. WTF, I too am at a loss to understand why the campground and hiking area were not just closed. The bear had been no problem for a couple of years, closing the whole area would have served to keep her from reassociating humans with anything pleasant. Surely the income from that area was not enough to offset the loss of 3 griz.

  75. If we, laymen, think we can plumb the minds of biologists for the thoughts and ideas the espouse about wildlife “conservation”, we delude ourselves.

    They lost me years ago in Oregon. The Army Corps of Engineers built a flood control dam on the north fork of the South Santiam River. Green Peter Dam. Filled the reservoir. The dam had a fish “elevator” to collect salmon and steelhead and put them in the lake to find the several large feeder streams in which to spawn. And they planted kokanee, a land locked sockeye, in the reservoir.

    Some of the kokanee stock decided some time in the ocean would be dandy, and five years later, here are these sockeye salmon going up the fish ladder at Willamette Falls in Oregon City, and they show up at the elevator. Thirty or forty is all. So they get a lift, and five years later, 300 show up and five years after that 3000. By then they had become a two year returning run.

    But, a biologist decided that sockeye carry IHN virus, lethal to the Eastern Washington strain of hatchery spring chinook the State has propagating on the upper Willamette tributaries (the water out of the dams is too cold for most salmon and the E. WA fish were acclimated to cold water genetically) for the Portland spring chinook fishery. So they proceeded to extirpate this now naturally spawning and robust sockeye fishery, that was not a hatchery fish. Kill the natural spawner to save the hatchery fish. At that point, I lost all interest in biologists as policy wonks.

    Oh, and the Salmon River in Idaho is having great spring chinook runs and the sockeye return has jumped from single digits to two thousand. Where is IHN in that deal?

    Grizzly bears need security to raise cubs. Only devoid of the crowds can you have that habitat. So why not pay the people who OWN that kind of habitat to keep it that way, and expand the grizzly population. Even rich guys with big ranches have conservation ethics, and being able to brag at the boardroom table that you have resident grizzly bears on your chunk of paradise is a probable result. Make the ranch more viable financially, and the grizzly habitat larger. Darn. Another market driven option that will be soundly denounced by the socialists whose problems this story is about.

  76. Bearbait

    I have no interest in encouraging wannabe feudal lords to brag about “their” bears at the boardroom table in Manhattan.

    Markets and private property rights–enclosing the commons–are the single greatest threat to conservation.


  77. Are you equating conservation with communism? That we all should be on a communal piece of ground and the rest is wildlife habitat run by the commissars? Do you want to be a commissar?

    If it is a “them or us” deal, am I to fear that private property rights and markets are threatened by the environmental movement, and I should fight them tooth and claw if I want to benefit from free markets and private property rights?

  78. RH, it is truly frightening to see anyone promoting the idea that they be allowed to take away the property of others for “conservation”. Are you setting an example by donating your home? I thought you were retired military, one of those who fought for the rights we have in this country, now you want that right taken away. I see a guy on Ralph’s site who wants the same thing, what on earth is happening to our Land of the Free”? I never thought I would see Americans being brain washed to this extent.

  79. I hate to tell you people, but private property rights are being threatened Not so much by conservationists, but by livestock producers. We that own our property, are trespassed on, and our rights ignored for someone that doesn’t live anywhere near us, just because they rent pasture for their cattle.
    There are no private property rights unless you own cattle or sheep.

  80. Hey Bill,

    Have you ever heard of the deep ecology movement and reverence for life. Your an egocentric jerk with a lousy land ethic. I hope to see you behind bars in a zoo one day.

  81. I’m glad Bill tried to make readers aware of how gut-wrenching it is for rangers or anyone who works with bears to kill a bear for management purposes. The NPS made the right call by killing these bears–it was only a matter of time before the bruins injured or killed someone. But in addition to killing the bears to prevent human injuries or death, I’m sure the NPS feared lawsuits and tort claims. Killing the bears was the NPS’s way of launching a pre-emptive strike before getting sued.

    Bill doesn’t do the grizzlies or his readers any favors by labeling the Oldman Lake bruins as “problem bears.” The problem is that the bears were habituated to people. They were probably food conditioned. What caused these problems? People. Killing the bears was a classic case of treating the symtoms of a disease rather than the cause–the people responsible for habituating and food conditioning the bears.

    Instead of praising Glacier’s “bear management” policy, writers, reporters, and Glacier NP officials should be asking why it failed.

    In the introduction to Linda Masterson’s wonderful book Living With Bears, retired Colorado Division of Wildlife Conservation biologist Tom Beck writes about the eternal problem of bears obtaining human food and garbage. “Is there any doubt as to the guilty party when agencies refer to ‘nuisance bear’ problems?” Early in my career, I proposed my agency refer to these conflicts as ‘nuisance human’ conflicts. I soon grew accustomed to the look of disbelief and consternation among my fellow wildlifers. But with time and patience the problem soon became identified as human-bear conflicts. More accurately describing the problem opens up new alternatives, including altering human behavior.”

  82. Dave, surely you realize that since this was a back country hike in campground admitting that the bears were food conditioned would mean admitting that enviros are jsut as guilty as John Q. Public in feeding a habituating bears. They will never admit that they could do any wrong at all.

  83. Todd–impossible to know how much political correctness framed the discussion of these bear killings. Glacier NP missed a great opportunity to educate people about bear-human conflicts by failing to emphasize that this habituation/food conditioning happened in the backcountry. It was hikers/enviros. Of course the death toll of grizzlies attributable to hikers/enviros due to food conflicts is inconsequential compared folks living in suburbia, ranchettes, and major bear killers like ranchers. I think it’s fair to say hikers are far, far, far more careful about food storage than folks in developed areas.

  84. I just discovered this discussion site about the Oldman Lake grizzlies, and though the interest seems to have waned I’d like to contribute my 2-cents. First, I’d like to ask everyone to refrain from attacking the park employees who removed the bears. They were simply carrying out the park’s decision. As Bill alluded to in his column, rangers don’t enjoy having to shoot a bear, let alone a mother with cubs. Those involved likely harbor more sorrow and pain from the incident than any of us can imagine. I camped at Oldman Lake the day after the bears were removed, but I wasn’t there when it happened, and I doubt anyone who posted critical comments were there. Even if you were a witness, you can’t know the stress they were under. So, get off their backs! All those involved knew that free-range darting grizzly bears was risky business fraught with potential error, but that was the situation they were in, and they did the best they could under the awful circumstances.

    Bill and Dave, I don’t agree with your editorial conclusions but I can understand why you supported the park’s decision to remove the bears. You simply accepted the park’s news release stating that “Park resource personnel worked to keep this bear and her offspring in the wild for five years”. Makes it sound like there were intense, almost daily efforts over 5 years. But if you consider yourselves serious journalists, why didn’t you bother to find out what that vague statement meant? How did they do that, how intense were the efforts, how many times were the bears treated? At least Bill quoted the news release, but then added “she came back bolder than ever” after belated efforts to turn her behavior around, while Dave added his own embellishments, like “The parkies had already spent tons of taxpayer money . . .” on “aversion therapy” and “Momma was a time bomb”. Other editorialists have made similar interpretations, like “. . . in spite of intense and expensive adverse conditioning . . .” (George Ostrom). I realize editorials are merely opinions, but shouldn’t those opinions involve a little journalistic inquiry? How much actual effort and expense was involved in trying to save these bears, and how successful were those efforts?

    Reports of grizzly bears following hikers on trails and showing other “habituated” behavior go back to the early 1990s in the Morning Star-Oldman Lakes area. During 2004 there were several reports of a female grizzly with 2 cubs approaching people on trails and in the Morning Star and Oldman Lake campgrounds. Were there any efforts to aversively condition these bears during 2004 or in prior years? How often were campgrounds or trails closed during that period? What other efforts were undertaken to prevent bears from becoming “overly familiar with humans”?

    In response to the reports from 2004, the Oldman Lake female grizzly was radio-collared in 2005, and employees from the park and the Wind River Bear Institute spent time during 2005 and 2006 monitoring her movements (2-3 weeks each year, according to park records). They patrolled trails and waited for her to enter the campgrounds, but only had a few opportunities to treat her with aversive (not “adverse”) conditioning techniques, including hitting her with rubber bullets or bean-bag rounds, firing cracker shells near her, barking of Karelian bear dogs, and concurrent yelling. Ask the park for a summary of those treatments, and a summary of the cost incurred during those efforts. And ask the park for a summary of the costs to kill the female and remove her yearlings. Only armed with those facts can you draw any reasonable conclusion about whether enough was done to save the bears.

    After the treatment in 2006, the bears apparently avoided campgrounds and trails, and the work seemed to be at least temporarily successful. The final report recommended that further “booster” work would be needed if the bears resumed their previous behavior. But the radio transmitter on the female failed and there were few if any reports of bears near people in that area during 2007 and 2008, so there were no opportunities for booster work. And there were other bear issues to deal with, so the Oldman Lake bear became a low priority. When she reappeared in July 2009 with 2 yearlings, entering the same campgrounds and approaching people, she was again trapped and radio-collared in preparation for the recommended booster work. Shortly thereafter, the decision was made to kill the female and remove her yearlings. What changed during that period? And was she really “bolder than ever” or showing the same behavior as during 2004-6?

    The park carnivore biologist, who has trapped and handled more grizzlies than all other park employees combined, didn’t feel the female was a “time bomb”. But armchair experts are free to express their opinions. I understand the argument that removing an aggressive or food-conditioned bear is sometimes necessary, and it may buy credibility for bear managers with some segments of the public. Grizzly bears are removed in management actions every year in Montana, usually as a result of human negligence (leaving out dog food or garbage, for example). But did the Oldman bear and her yearlings need to be removed? State grizzly bear specialists have used aversive conditioning techniques for over a decade to successfully treat grizzlies and keep food-conditioned bears in the population. Why can’t the park afford to do the same?

    Most state and federal bear managers seem to agree that habituated bears are not only inevitable but necessary if grizzly populations are to be sustained in Montana. In Glacier NP, the density of roads, trails and social trails/climbing routes, the density of people on those roads and trails, and the density of grizzly bears ensures that bears are unable to avoid people. Some bears can try to avoid us as much as possible, sacrificing good foraging habitat for security. Other bears must accept some level of familiarity with humans in order to take advantage of good foraging areas. As long as human traffic continues in the park and development and recreational activities continue to increase around the park, some bears will have to adjust to our presence. Those “habituated” bears, not the backcountry or wilderness bears, will be the key to grizzly bear recovery and persistence. The Oldman Lake bear was precisely the kind of bear needed, if only her tendencies to approach people could have been arrested. More should have been done over the years to avoid this tragic outcome, to prevent the loss of a bear that may have been important to the long-term survival of grizzlies in Montana.

    Loss of these 3 bears may have little significant NUMERICAL impact on the overall grizzly population. But, habituated bears that have learned to co-exist with people may have unique traits that will be critical for the perpetuation of the species in increasingly human-dominated landscapes. We may never know if these bears possessed important traits that may have been lost from the population. More intensive monitoring and preemptive management actions are needed to keep habituated bears in the gene pool by preventing the more risky behaviors exhibited by these bears.

    The NPS has a legally-mandated primary purpose, that of resource preservation. Glacier NP was established in 1910 to protect resources. It would be another 20 years before the Sun Road was constructed, so the road was not part of the primary purpose of the park. Yet, somehow the park has been able to raise over $100 million for road work. Dave is in a huff over the park spending “tons of taxpayer money” to save bears (probably less than $100K), but shows little concern for the millions in taxpayer money going into the Sun Road (not to mention the $10K+ spent in killing and removing the bears). Little surprise that an industry-oriented part-time editorialist would feel that way. The real issue is why park leaders appear to agree with him.

    I’m less concerned with editorial opinions than with how to channel the anger that many feel into something constructive. If you really care about bears and bear management in Glacier, get informed, submit thoughtful comments to park administrators, and attend the public bear management review the park is planning to hold this fall.

  85. The Park Service of today whether it is Yellowstone, or Glacier, is not there for protection or preservation of the species inside the Parks, but to cow tow to the public (stupidity) safety. ‘They’ feel the animals know the boundaries, not to mention follow the rules, but JQPublic doesn’t have to.

  86. Steve,

    Yes, a lot of park rangers and biologists DO get a thrill out of drugging and or killing bears. I was in Yellowstone 30 years and whenever there was a bear killed or drugged there were always several who tried to claim being the one who actually shot that bear. Any VIP’s coming in …or relatives…I heard so many totally made up hero stories. Talk like, ” I didn’t want to but I had to shoot that griz” happened all the time”. The higher the position the more this identifying self as the one who drugged or pulled the trigger. I listened to my district ranger tell his two surgeon doctor “friends” ..all of us in a backcountry cabin how he so didn’t want to do so … and all the reasons that bear should have lived…. but in the end he had to shoot it.

    It was all bull…and you Stevey are a willing victim of believing those guys don’t glorify those things. Look at the personalities of those hired…all type one’s. Look at what the qualifications are needed to get hired…law enforcement.

    No, there is not the biologist college back ground of days of old…and as for the biologists…if they don’t stay in the “news” then they are not recognized or promoted. Thus all that filming so they can be identified on TV. They may not have come out of college with those compromising intentions but the over mature nature of govt. biologist jobs means they have to get with the status program.

    No I do not know the individuals of Glacier but I know the universal character. And as for the biologist having to do what administration above tells him to do (in this case kill the bear) HE DID NOT HAVE TO SUBMIT TO THEIR WISHES IF HE DID NOT BELIEVE IT SHOULD BE DONE!!!! By him doing so it shows he is basically the same as all others in govt. with Stockholm Syndrome. That is the best I can say for an excuse such as any govt. employee subjigating over what convictions they should have for their job.

    Did this person submit a dissenting paper to this order? No!!! In the end the only thing that happens is these folks either become apathetic or bitter.

    Get real Steve. Please find out how many of these permanent rangers or biologists are on Prozac or are seeing shrinks. I’d have to give an educated guess and say over half. In Yellowstone it fluctuates from 50-75 per cent.

    I’m sure they appreciate your moral support, but can you help them? No. Thus the best they can do is continually hire newbies or talk to visitors who idolize them to make them feel better. This characteristic is a lot more important than if that person is qualified. The Park Service is very dysfunctional and I really doubt Glacier is any different. Enough.

  87. Thank you Steve for keeping this forum alive. Virtually nothing had been written previously that I felt like responding to until you added your careful thoughts to the mix. Thank you.
    What I like about your letter is the way you question things and suggest that the Oldman Lake grizzly and the likes of her should have perhaps been looked at as a genetic gold mine rather than something to abolish. In other words, Bill’s statement; “Killing this bear to save bears” is basically out to lunch.
    Let’s look at this question with some common sense. What would I/you do if we had the strength of a grizzly, its intelligence, plus the determinedness that we know that most mothers have, especially grizzly mothers, towards protecting their offspring? What would we do if we had to get fat enough to be able to sleep through six months of winter every year and if we did not do this we would die? To have ones efforts along these lines managed by humans who basically do not appreciate the seriousness of it all and put their own needs first might be an aggravation to say the least. What would we do if we had the tools of violence that the grizzly has in their strength and physique and we were getting beat up, dogs sicked on us or we are drugged and carted of by people wearing uniforms while we were trying to live peacefully in a place that was established supposedly for that purpose?
    I am asking anyone to be honest about this. What would they do under these circumstances? I can guess what I would do. For sure it would be a miracle if I was as calm as this bear of upper Cutbank Creek was during all those years. Steve, this is why your questions are good ones. You are the first, I hope not the last, to ask them.
    What has been extremely frustrating is that for 48 years I have been worked toward understanding the two main statements that were made by officials to justify killing this bear and to read about it once again is ridicules to me. The justification that almost no one questions is about those quotes from the Park Superintendent and head of the science program: “We all know that all wild grizzlies are unpredictable” and “Everyone agrees that any bear that loses its fear of humans is inherently dangerous”.
    In 1989 I decided that these two questions were so important to understand that I stopped ranching up against Waterton Park which I had been doing there for 18 years and proceeded to devote full time trying to answer them. I liked bears for many years by then but ranching really got me thinking that there were some serious holes in our understanding of bears. I had been trying to understand what the real problems were in raising cattle in grizzly country. I thought that was an important bit of exploration given that so much of their former habitat has been taken away from these animals because we were so sure that ranchers could not successfully operate while sharing their land with this species of bear. What I found was that it was not much of a problem. I had about 300 cows and caves and in all those years I did not lose an animal to a grizzly. It is not that they never do kill cattle but I found there are quite simple ways to avoid conflict which included making the bears feel welcome on my land. When they came out of hibernation high in the park they were welcomed where my fence joined the park by pile of any animals that had died that winter. I made sure they had lots to eat by bumming some dead neighbors cows as well. It did not concern me that it was cattle they were eating. Obviously it was not a problem. I started this in 1972 and now it is done in many places, but using road kill dear, elk and moose.
    Since then the mission to answer those two questions: Are grizzly unpredictable and are they dangerous if they lose fear of us, became the main purpose of the next 20 years of personal exploration. I liked bears very much and I thought that those questions were very important. Back as far as I have been able to research literature; at least ever since guns were invented; bears have been killed for those transgressions, all because of our extreme fear of them.
    Of course, it would be very difficult to live with this animal if either of these two things are true. I can state now confidently that neither is true. I have written 3 books on this very subject so I am not going to explain all my findings here, but I will try to summarize.
    I lived with many bears for many years that had no fear of me or my assistants. I have gained more experience than any living person in the world, closely living with brown bear.
    I deliberately created a situation in a very remote part of Russia and the thought of what I promoted would be a nightmare of almost everyone who thinks they know brown bears. I wanted a place where there were hundreds of grizzly/brown bears and this place I built my cabin fit the bill because I could hardly go for a walk without having an encounter. I deliberately encouraged bears to like me, to be fearless of me and I did this by never doing anything to them that would make them not like me.
    I was not allowed to conduct my experiment in North America? Everything I was doing was contrary to what every bear expert around the world thought should be encouraged between humans and bears.
    Just to make sure that I would have plenty of bears around who were not afraid I would buy orphaned cubs from a squalid, horrible Kamchatka zoo and take them to my cabin, 10 cubs in all. I had to feed them for the first year as they were very small cubs and sometimes they were even fed as yearlings. I taught them as many survival skills as I could. When they were small, to protect them when they were not on long walks with me, I had a electrified pen for them to stay, but by fall they were on their own. From then on I let them live as close as they wanted. I did not encourage them to leave so some stayed in the same valley for as long as I was there which stretched into 11 years. What was unique about what I had set up in my study area was that for 7 years no one interfered with what I was doing. My orphans and all the other bears (about 400 in that general area) only experience with humans was what they had with me and my assistants. To understand the question of unpredictability this was important because I felt that there are reasons that bears will turn on us that we can not know about because we do not kept track of their history with humans. The general trend of our history with grizzlies has been violent and it is us who perpetuate the violence. What I learned form all of this was that there is a lot of power in kindness.
    The rules were simple and few. I would not interfere with their use of the area if they did not get into my food or garbage and damage my small plane. We would also not hurt each other, except for the shock from an electric fence around the cabin and my plane which reminded them of the rules if they forgot. They did not forget so usually one shock was all it took. The two fences were very close to the cabin and plane so as not to cut off any of the many bear trails that had been in use for hundreds of years. My only other rule for myself and anyone working with me was that I carried bear spray which I didn’t have to use except to protect my cubs from predator males very occasionally. I knew also that I was probably going to meet a few dangerous, to me, bears. It makes sense that there can be a desperateness that comes with age and/or injury or a lack of available food on a particular year. In these situations it is known by the bear that he or she will not get fat enough to make it through a long winter. There comes a time when almost all have to den up and take their chances of surviving the winter and it is natural to die of old age in their dens. Late in the fall there is always a slim possibility that a desperate bear of this kind might think of eating a human. In my lifetime I have only seen two out of thousands of bears I have encountered, with that look in their eye and even those were easy enough to avoid. [Very likely Timothy Treadwell died because he did not take precautions against this kind of bear. He pitched his tent on a trail where he knew that there was a very scary bear around. He never carried bear spray or had electric fence. Letters from his girlfriend to her father revealed that there was a big, old male bear hanging around that really scared them. This bear appeared to be very old, had an eye missing and was much scarred].
    After many years of exploring these questions, what I feel comfortable stating is:
    Ӣ There are dangerous bears but they are not dangerous because they are unpredictable or they have lost fear of humans.
    ”¢ They are dangerous mostly because of what we do to them. Because of what we do to them they lose respect. They have a sense of fairness and if humans don’t play fair bears occasionally will strike back.
    Ӣ They can be dangerous because, for some reason, they become absolutely desperate for food. This is rare.
    Ӣ Bears will become dangerous from repeated unpleasant experiences with man.
    Ӣ Over time it is possible to create dangerous bears by harsh treatment of them and therefore aversive conditioning is not a good idea.
    In a country where litigation is a big fear, that last statement does not make my research very popular, but I am sure that it is true with certain bears. If more people begin to agree with me then the whole management of bears would have to change because the shoe would be on the other foot, litigation wise. Obviously the Oldman Lake grizzly was very forgiving and my guess is that even with the way she was managed she was not about to hurt anyone. That is why what Steve suggested is important.
    I am not likely to ever be asked to manage bears in a public safety situation but if I would have been in charge form the start with this bear I would have been on the lookout for her qualities and then put all my energy, back in 2006 or sooner, not at all towards making her fearful, but into making sure hikers understood how to respond to her and other bears who choose to be friendly. It would mean extra care that she not get food from tents or packs, but if people are not always told that bears are about to kill them, they might act in better ways and not just drop their packs and leave. I can say this with some confidence that my way could work because I have spent thousands of hours within a few feet of bears like her and her cubs and often with my back turned to them and it was all done to make sure that I could answer those two questions. I am 68 years old and still very much alive.

  88. It’s difficult to respond to unqualified generalizations because they are usually at least partly wrong. Bob, I worked in Yellowstone over 30 years ago, though not in bear management. From my vantage point as a seasonal naturalist, ranger and biologist at the time, I’d have to agree that some of what you say was probably true. But times have changed, and while some of those attitudes persist, bear management has become far more professional and responsible, at least in the larger parks with which I’m familiar. That said, bear management needs to keep evolving and improving, and this incident provides an opportunity to nudge it along. Because I know the individuals involved in the Glacier incident, I am completely confident that your generalization does not apply in this case. But I doubt anything I have to say on the subject will alter your views. We can agree on one point, though maybe not on the reason why: the NPS is dysfunctional. Books could be written on that subject; Sellars book on the history of natural resource management in the NPS (“Preserving Nature in the National Parks”) comes as close as any, though Frome (“Regreening the National Parks”) covered similar ground.

    Charlie, I respect the efforts you’ve made on behalf of bears. I think we can find much to agree on, though I can’t accept the idea of befriending bears. Maybe someday that will become an acceptable practice, but I don’t think so, and hope not. My interest in bears and other wildlife is based on the fact they are distinct species, they perceive the world through senses that we will likely never understand, so we (should) appreciate them for their own sake, not for their similarities to us, or their attraction to us (or our attraction to them). If we observe them remotely, without interacting with them, they will more likely retain their inherent wildness. The more we interact with them, the more we rob them of their wildness.

    I support intensive monitoring and limited and targeted aversive conditioning efforts (“bear shepherding”, “tough love”) because, as you point out, bears can become more dangerous due to human actions, and because humans are unpredictable. Some people don’t care about bears, or are unfamiliar with how to behave in bear country, despite efforts to educate park visitors. Even the most caring people may inadvertently drop a few crumbs of food in campground food preparation areas, or along trails.

    I camped at Oldman Lake the night after the bears were “removed” and found 2 unattended packs containing food near the lake while a couple was fishing several 100 yards away. I was pixxed, and told them that 2 grizzlies died there the day before because of the stupidity of people like them (though there were likely other factors in the mix). How many other people drop their packs in their rush to catch fish, or drop them when a bear appears on the trail, or even throw their food at a bear when it appears nearby, as reportedly happened recently. The park will never have an army of rangers patrolling the backcountry to prevent people from doing stupid things that endanger bears and other people. But a few biologists, trained to identify bear behaviors (and maybe learning from your experience with bears), can help avert more serious outcomes like that at Oldman Lake. I agree that aversive conditioning can make bears more dangerous, if not done properly and with an understanding of bear behavior, and that it should not be used on some bears. The idea is not to make bears afraid of humans, but to help bears change behaviors that are counterproductive.

    I didn’t intend to go on this long, because I think this discussion is more appropriate for another forum, like Rupert’s. Or I may contact you directly. I sent the park some suggested “lessons learned” from this incident, including some you mentioned above, and a recommendation to consult with biologists who may not always agree with the park. None of the state bear management specialists were consulted, for example. While I don’t share all your views on dealing with bears, I hope you will contribute your thoughts to the park, and even attend their bear management review (probably during the winter).

  89. Steve,
    Almost all my efforts on behalf of bears; that you say you respect, are towards understanding them better. I feel that by doing this we can create a lot of habitat for them, like my neighbors ranch for instance. Grizzlies were not allowed to be on this large tract of land while it was owned by the previous family because those people insisted that grizzly bear only belonged where no one lived or was trying to raise cattle. There is more and more relaxation about having grizzlies on ranch land in this area now and that has more than doubled grizzly habitat.

    I have never suggested to anyone that they should befriend bears. The reason is simple; because as long as bears are managed the way they are a few are likely to be dangerous and how will you or I know which bears they are? If bear managers could accept that bears are predictable then we might be able to manage toward some kind of friendship. The stated reasons for killing the Old Man grizzly were wrong. I guess I am asking that managers please review any policy they have towards killing bears who try to befriend people and look for a better way than killing or even beating up on them all the time. It is to everyone’s advantage to get along.

    It is not any advantage for bears to be, so called, wild. I wonder why it is it that many people insist that an animal can not be classed as wild if those animals decide not to be afraid. If a bear became unafraid of a wolf, for instance, does that mean they are not wild? Of course not; wild (fear of us), is an anthropocentric concept. Getting fat enough to survive without food for six months is a huge, life or death job for them every summer and fall seasons. Being afraid of people can be a big problem for bears if they are trying to make a living where a human might show up. We ask them to run away in this situation, or else! and the farther the better! They are often running away from some food source that is important to them.

    Your idea of “robbing them of their wildness” is a strange concept. Bears would rather have our acceptance and our generosity than a man made concept of “wild”. Fear is a useful survival trait but what good is wild as you seem to define it? If bears have taught me anything it is that we are a part of nature. What else can we be? The choice we have is whether it be a positive part of a negative part.

    And, why not celebrate how bears are similar to us. Is it not another problem for the bear that we do not do this? Is it not because we can successfully ignore our similarities that we can send them to death row with little hesitation for having traits like Old Man bear had; being too friendly?

    I got curious about how people a few hundred years ago lived with the hundreds of bears where my cabin was situated in Russia. There were remnants of their villages and archeologist told me that the Ittleman people had been there for many thousands of years before they were killed off by the Russians. Because there were so many bear, and because the natives did not have guns in those days, it made sense, that the people would learn how to get along with bears or they would simply have to live where there were fewer bears. Obviously it was because of the incredible amount of salmon to be had if they could get along, that they learned to get along.

    My Russian friends dug up records of what that might have looked like. Here is one passage written by a Russian scientist Stepan Krasheninnikov in 1735 who was recording the lives of the native people who lived at the south tip of the peninsula where I lived for 10 years.

    “In Kamchatka, there are a great many bears and wolves. In the summer the bears graze in packs over the vast tundra in this country. The Kamchatka bear is neither large nor ferocious;* it will never attack a man unless someone comes upon it while it is asleep. Even then a bear will rarely kill a man, being content with ripping the skin from the nape of the man’s neck, slashing him across the eyes, and leaving him on the ground. In Kamchatka, one comes across a few men who have been treated in this manner. They are commonly referred to as “dranki” or “the frayed ones.” One thing that should be made clear is that the Kamchatka bear will never harm a woman. In summer, when the women are out gathering berries, the bears follow them around like domestic animals. Occasionally the bears will eat the berries the women have picked, but that is the only harm they do”. (* Kamchatka bears are about twice the size of Glacier Park bears)

    There are quite a few interesting things in that quote. 1. Typically, Krasheninnikov would agree with you about bears being like domestic animals if they did not happen to be afraid. 2. I have often found records of women being treated differently than men. Could this be that these native men could not resist being macho when they meet up with a bear at close quarters, while women who even took their children with them to pick berries shared the tundra with the bears quite casually? It appears they did not get too fussed up about a bear taking a berry basket away from them occasionally? 3. Apparently it was customary to leave an old woman to protect the fish cashes that were up on stilts. I gathered from other sources that all these old women used was a stick to shoo off the bears if they started hanging around too close. I learned this technique from Stan Price of Admiralty Island and have used it in my experiments around minimum hassling. 4. Krasheninnikov said that he never found reliable evidence of Ittleman being killed by bears, but now Kamchatka has one of the highest human death rates per capita in the world that are caused by brown bears. My guess is that this change can be attributed to how they are now managed. Believe me when I say that Russians are not easy on their bears.

    To sum up: I befriended bears because I did not know how else to understand whether or not they were predictable. Someone please tell me how else this could have been done. How else could you understand if bears were dangerous once they lost fear of people? I wish you would not lose sight of what I was trying to research. Surely if the powers that be in the Parks System had ever spent time around my cabin with the bears that were there during those years, providing I was also there to keep visitors calm initially, it would have been impossible for them to have handled this situation in Glacier the way they did.

  90. Just found this article and would love to speak with the user that posted as Dewey above. I am related to Max Wilde and would love to get some more info.