Grand Teton National Park officials euthanized a momma bear in Wyoming after humans fed it. Two cubs survive the mother. The baby bruins are now in Oswald Bear Ranch in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where they will live out the rest of their days.
Witnesses spotted two different vehicles illegally feeding the animals on Signal Mountain Road on October 5. Ignorance is not always bliss. After feeding the bears, rangers noticed the mother began approaching vehicles and people with more confidence; which creates a problem.
The convenient meal may seem like a nice gesture; however, it sets off a chain reaction that can ultimately put the bears, and humans, in danger. The Grand Teton National Park science and resource chief reported that a bear stole an apple from a hiker’s backpack at Jackson Lake after becoming too comfortable with human interaction. Remember when your mom told you not to feed the neighbors’ cat because it would only come back expecting more food? I hope you’re picking up what I’m putting down.
“The bear responded in demonstrating much more bold behavior, coming around cars and making contact with cars,” said Grand Teton National Park science and resource chief Sue Consolo-Murphy.
Park rangers understood there was an issue with human safety as soon as they received reports. The day after the incident, they set up a culvert trap to apprehend the family of bears. The family was held captive for five days while park officials searched for a home or zoo for the three. Tragically, the 5-year-old mother was killed after failed attempts of finding a suitor. The mother’s cubs were shipped to Oswald Bear Ranch in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
“The opportunity to place wild bears in an accredited facility is not always an option. Park staff followed National Park Service policies as well as guidance from agency veterinarian to conduct all actions in a humane manner,” stated park officials in a press release. The reasons are unspecified as to why the momma was not a good enough candidate for another home.
“Feeding wildlife in a national park is a serious offense and presents severe risks to the animal and humans. Human carelessness doesn’t just endanger humans, it can result in an animal’s death,” the release also lectured. “Animals that are fed by humans also have an increased likelihood of being drawn to roadways and killed by vehicles.” Rangers have said they’ve noticed bears have been seen in popular areas, like Signal Mountain, since June.
“Park staff and volunteers spent hundreds of hours trying to keep park visitors and these bears at safe distances from each other, near a busy park campground and lodging area. The Female had three cubs born this year, but by late summer the bear was seen with only two cubs. The fate of the third cub is unknown,” said park officials.
Reports in August show that a bear near Signal Mountain Boat Launch surprised campers and stole their pack of food after they left it unattended.
“Due to the bears’ comfort with humans in developed areas, and, most importantly, behaviors that associated humans with food, posing an unacceptable risk to public safety, the three bears were captured and removed from the park,” stated the press release. “It was a difficult decision for park managers, who are responsible for the welfare of both wildlife and people in the park. The loss of these animals removes the opportunity for this bear family to contribute to a healthy, wild population and for visitors to enjoy them in their natural setting.”
The people who fed the bears were sanctioned and are facing up to $5,000 in fines and six months in jail.