By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A young adult male grizzly bear had to be relocated within Grand Teton National Park this week after obtaining human in two incidents earlier this month.
On June 11, a visitor reported that a grizzly bear walked through a Grassy Lake Road campsite, sniffed a picnic table and unoccupied tent, which it then put its paws on. No damage was done to the tent.
Visitors yelled at the bear and it ran away.
The next day, Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a report of people feeding a grizzly bear from their vehicle south of the Lizard Creek Campground.
On June 13, there was a report of a grizzly gaining access to unattended trash and a drink at a campsite.
Both incidents are under investigation, although one person was cited for improper food storage, which carries a mandatory court appearance.
Later on June 13, the grizzly was captured and collared. He is a young male around 2.5 years old. All reports and evidence indicate he was the bear involved in each incident.
Park spokewoman Denise Germann told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that the decision was made to relocate the bear to try and break the cycle it had developed of approaching humans in hopes of some kind of food reward.
She added that it was irresponsible for people to feed grizzlies, either directly or indirectly.
“When people take these actions, there are consequences, many of which are for the bear, who can either be relocated or removed,” Germann said. “It’s an awesome opportunity to come to the park and see a bear in the wild, but we also have to be good stewards of the land, which includes not feeding wildlife.”
The bear was relocated on June 15 to the west side of Jackson Lake.
Bears that obtain human food may lose their natural fear of humans and may seek out humans and human-developed areas as an easy source of food.
As a result, bear may become aggressive toward people and may have to be killed.
The proper storage of food items and responsible picnicking are vitally important in bear country. Picnickers should only have out the items they plan to use immediately so that if a bear approaches, food items can be quickly gathered and the opportunity for the bear to receive a food reward is removed.
Visitors should store food and scented items in bear-resistant food lockers that are located throughout the park or in a hard-sided vehicle. Deposit trash in bear-resistant receptacles and do not burn waste in fire rings or leave litter in campsites.
“Feeding wildlife is illegal and dangerous, and we take these incidents very seriously,” park superintendent Chip Jenkins said. “The impacts of irresponsible behavior can have very negative effects for humans and wildlife.”