Grizzly Bear Struck And Killed By Vehicle
Second grizzly euthanized after multiple campsite raids
Two grizzly bears are dead after separate incidents that brought them into contact with people in Yellowstone National Park. One grizzly died when struck and killed by a vehicle Tuesday night on the west side of the park. Another bear that had been raiding occupied campsites in search of food was captured and later euthanized.
The vehicle accident happened along the road between Old Faithful and Madison Junction about 10:00 p.m. Tuesday night. The driver of a Chevrolet Suburban struck and killed the 13-year old adult male grizzly about ¼ mile south of the Nez Perce trail head in the Fountain Flats area. The 473 pound bear had been captured for research and tagged in 2001. The force of the collision with the bear bent the driveshaft on the vehicle.
Six bears have been killed in motor vehicle accidents in the park this year. All the accidents happened at dusk or after dark, when it is more difficult to spot animals on or near the road.
Park managers don’t know why so many bears have been struck and killed by vehicles this year, since on average, one bear a year is killed in a motor vehicle accident. Bear biologist Kerry Gunther believes this year’s poor whitebark pine nut crop may be at least be partly to blame. “Whitebark pine nuts are a favorite and important fall food of bears,” said Gunther. “This means more bears are likely to be along park roads foraging for food.”
Most of the roughly 100 accidents a year involving vehicles and large animals like bison, elk and bears happen at dusk or after dark. Concerns over motor vehicle accidents involving wildlife had already prompted Superintendent Suzanne Lewis to appoint a group to make recommendations on ways to reduce the number of accidents. “We’re working to improve our protection of wildlife and to make traveling through the park safer for visitors and employees,” said Superintendent Lewis.
Park visitors and employees are encouraged to be especially cautious and to slow down when driving through the park from dusk to dawn or in rain or snow, because wildlife are more difficult to see under those conditions. Drivers who accidentally strike an animal in the park are asked to report the incident at the nearest ranger station.
The nuisance bear was captured Tuesday morning after entering occupied sites at Pebble Creek Campground three times Monday in search of food. The same blonde, 170-pound sub-adult female grizzly had earlier gotten human food raiding an occupied backcountry campsite in the Lamar Valley. “This bear had learned to associate people with food,” said Gunther. “When that happens the animal is a threat to visitors and has to be removed.” The bear had to be euthanized when rangers were unable to find an approved zoo that would take the animal.
- NPS -