YNP Bears


Author, Writer, Photographer
I know a lot of folks on this forum like to fish and visit Yellowstone National Park. It's beginning to look like Spring time here in Montana and that means the bears will be wandering around looking for food.

Grizzly bear photo shot in YNP.

Black bear photo shot 20 feet from my front door.

I respect bears. I've encountered both Black and Grizzly bears in the woods many times and I know they are generally very easy going animals with an innate fear and distrust of humans. Notice I said "generally". You don't want to be in the middle of an encounter when the exception part kicks into play.

A few years ago we had an early thaw the end of February which brought a lot of bears out. Then, in April it turned bitterly cold and their food supply was gone. They entered the summer very under-nourished and many biologists believe it was the reason several campers in and around YNP were attacked and some killed.

I believe the bears in and around Yellowstone NP and other places where bear-human encounters are frequent, are THE most dangerous in the country. The bears I encounter in the high country generally (there's that important word again) take off when they see you and you generally see nothing but furry butts running away.

This last fall was different. In the hunting camp I cooked for, the grizzly bears were unusually brazen. The guides had to poacher pack out the elk meat to keep the bears off the kill and only once was an elk left overnight and packed back to camp the next day. In one day, one guide saw six grizzlies within 100 yards of him and his hunters. No gut pile lasted until the morning after it was on the ground. The outfitter had worked out of this camp for 25 years and had never seen that much bear activity.

I know several other big game hunters and guides who reported similar bear behavior last fall.

So, for all of you who are thinking of fishing or recreating in YNP or anywhere in bear country, I'd advise you to research what to do if you encounter a Black or Grizzly bear, come prepared, and after you've laughed about all the old worn out bear jokes, get friggin' serious.



Active Member
We saw that very thing last spring in the NW portion of the state near GNP as well.

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Well-Known Member
I think park bears are the most dangerous kind. They are the most likely to be habituated to humans and less likely to go in "furry butts running away" mode. I like the grizzly bears in the AK Bristol Bay region. The natives shoot at them from time to time just to keep them wary of humans, and it seems to work.

On a past trip to YNP, my friend and I hiked into the back side of Lamar to check out elk remains from a wolf kill about 6 days previous. There was only one leg bone and a small piece of hide left. Among the scavengers was a momma grizzly with a single cub. I saw her about 400 yards away and decided it was time to move upslope and out of the valley. With all the wolf watchers and fishermen in that area I figured she was way too habituated to people for me to want to get close to her.

My YNP hiking plan is like AK, bear spray on my belt always.



Purveyor of fine hackle, wine & cigars!
That's why I fish with OMJ when I'm out there.. Honestly I've been out to MT and in YNP and only seen one bear in all my time cruising around that great state! I've had two close encounters in YNP with buffalo and had an elk come running at me and a few others at one of the viewpoints, see us and run the other way.

I've camped all over, but in Glacier NP and YNP and just stay bear aware. Store all of your food in the car/truck and keep the windows closed so it's harder for animals to break in. The real worry is the idiot who camps next to you and does something stupid! I've driven some who I camp with crazy on bear safefy, but would rather error on the side of caution. I do have bear spray that I carry in some areas, but honestly I really worry about people more than I do animal encounters.


Author, Writer, Photographer
I do have bear spray that I carry in some areas, but honestly I really worry about people more than I do animal encounters.
I've gotten a face full of bear spray while testing it out which I highly recommend everyone do. Test out, not get the capsaicin in your eyes, nose, and throat because it burns like hell! Trust me when I tell you that a few second stream of that crap to someone's face and you won't have to worry about that human encounter.

If you're going to carry bear spray don't stow it in the back of your vest. Unless you've got it handy you might as well leave it at home. Most bear encounters I've had it was lightening fast. One second everything is wonderful, the next second there's a scene out of Jurassic Park movie where people are freaking out.

Oh, and if you keep the bear spray in your car, do NOT keep it on the dashboard. It blew up on a friend's wife. Really bad outcome.


Ron McNeal

Life's good!
Having grown up in Michigan, I really appreciate these posts about bears and rattlesnakes. So, thanks!

But, I have to admit they, just like those signs in Montana that begin with, "YOU'RE IN BEAR COUNTRY......," give me the fantods....


Active Member
It may sound silly but my normal fishing partner and I have a little game that we play where at least once during the day on the river, one of us will yell out "bear" and then yell and scream to keep the emotion going. At that point its a time test to see how long it takes the other to pull and ready the spray for deployment. We do the same drill with the handguns. You would be amazed at how slow and clumsy you are on the first few attempts. It doesn't take long before you start making little adjustments in carry positions etc. After awhile it almost becomes second nature which is our goal. Predators, animal or human, don't care about time outs while you dig around your backpack. Obviously, you don't want to do this drill in crowds....

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I've heard from a FWP guy that the numbers of bears in the park have been increasing in recent years. So that certainly could be part of why the bear/human contact has been on the increase aswell.

Getting stared down by griz and two cubs several years back on the Slough Creek trail is something I consider to be a profound life experience. It won't deter me from visiting YNP's back country however.


A secondary problem with bear becoming accustoming to people is it can end up killing the bear.

This is exactly what happened at East Lake in Oregon.

A black bear sow and her two cubs came down from the high country looking for food and found the campgrounds at East Lake was chalk full of cool human food.

They became a continual feature at the campgrounds. As with most black bear, they were easily scared off with loud noises but some idiot camper freaked out one night and discharged his handgun.

The bear mom and her kids really weren't hurting anyone and were doing no harm -- you just had to lock up your food so they couldn't get to it. But because the dumb-ass human freaked out used a firearm, the feds and ODF&W decided they had to do something about the bear.

Now... in YNP, when a bear(s) become a problem, they trap them and move them far from humans to solve the conflict.

So the ODF&W set up traps in the campgrounds. They used deer parts as bait. Stupid is as stupid does... the bear were not interested in deer parts, they were looking for human food.

After the ODF&W finally figured it out and replaced the deer parts with junk food, they were able to capture the mom and her kids.

But instead of moving them far off to NE Oregon so they would be no problem, they killed all three. That was their solution. They claimed they couldn't move the bear because they'd return -- yeah, right... the ODF&W couldn't figure out some remote spot to move the bear so they wouldn't somehow find their way back to the campgrounds at East Lake? BS. Killing the sow and her cubs was easy so that's what they did.

Now there are now signs in the campgrounds at East indicating that if you feed any bear that show up, the bear will be shot and killed so don't feed them.

That's how our Oregon fish and game manages wildlife.

Idiot humans.

Tacoma Red

Active Member
Bear drinks 36 cans of favorite beer

BAKER LAKE, Wash. (AP) — Rain-eeeeer .... Bear? When state Fish and Wildlife agents recently found a black bear passed out on the lawn of Baker Lake Resort, there were some clues scattered nearby — dozens of empty cans of Rainier Beer.
The bear apparently got into campers' coolers and used his claws and teeth to puncture the cans. And not just any cans.

"He drank the Rainier and wouldn't drink the Busch beer," said Lisa Broxson, bookkeeper at the campground and cabins resort east of Mount Baker.

Fish and Wildlife enforcement Sgt. Bill Heinck said the bear did try one can of Busch, but ignored the rest.

"He didn't like that (Busch) and consumed, as near as we can tell, about 36 cans of Rainier."

A wildlife agent tried to chase the bear from the campground but the animal just climbed a tree to sleep it off for another four hours. Agents finally herded the bear away, but it returned the next morning.

Agents then used a large, humane trap to capture it for relocation, baiting the trap with the usual: doughnuts, honey and, in this case, two open cans of Rainier. That did the trick.

"This is a new one on me," Heinck said. "I've known them to get into cans, but nothing like this. And it definitely had a preference."


When drinking, I preferred Rainier over Busch so the bear knew what he was doing.

At least they relocated the guy... in Oregon the fish and game would have shot him.


Author, Writer, Photographer
It may sound silly but my normal fishing partner and I have a little game that we play where at least once during the day on the river, one of us will yell out "bear" and then yell and scream to keep the emotion going. At that point its a time test to see how long it takes the other to pull and ready the spray for deployment.
I don't think it sounds silly at all! I think it's genius.



Author, Writer, Photographer
Gene - They used to have signs in YNP that read -- A fed bear is a dead bear. Unfortunately, that's often the case. The Park LEOs can fine the idiots, but that's about it.

A bear's sense of smell is amazing. 7 times that of a blood hound and the average blood hound's sense of smell is 1,000 times better than a human.

Keeping a clean camp is essential, but what you'll likely never know is what the guy who vacated the camping spot you're pitching your tent in, did with his food. A bear can detect a human scent on a trail 14 hours after they are gone. If the guy before you drained the juice from his can of sardines onto the grass where you'll be sleeping you may not smell it, but the bear will.

Bears have broken into tents where there was zero food. Zero. The people had taken good care of their bear attractants. So, you would be smart to not get complacent even if you get religious about your food storage.



When animals are killed due to the stupidity of humans, seldom do I side with the humans.

The animals were here first. We are the ones who invaded their living rooms, not the other way around.

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