YNP Bears


Lost in Nontana
In Montana anyplace that is Grizzly habitat you will get fined if you don't have all food in bear prof container or left out. My Son was camping at Sun Canyon and eating a bag of chips. Had to go do a #1, set the chips on the table walked a cross the road to out house. When he came back out a ranger was there to wright him a ticket. $50 fine.
I always pack something for bears after my other son was charged by a black bear. My son was only 30 yards away and I never saw the bear, just saw him pull up and fire 3 fast shots. Tanned up nice even with 2 holes in it.


Author, Writer, Photographer
I don't want people to be paranoid. I want them to be alert and cautious and aware.

There's places in large metro areas where a tourist would be well advised to not start flashing a big wad of cash because it attracts a certain element. I've never been attacked by a low life or even seen a lowlife while deep in the wilderness, but I'd be well advised to realize that when I change venues to an inner city environment, I need to adjust my behavior for that.

Two things.

1. Bear attacks that result in human deaths are indeed rare for several reasons. Bears don't generally hunt humans and they are not generally predatorial. They don't generally attack humans with the intent of eating them, but to protect their territory, offspring, or food. So, after you no longer present a threat to them they don't generally try to finish you off. But bear attacks that result in serious human injury are not nearly as rare. Maybe the bear won't kill you, but do you really want a bunch of stitches across your face?

2. Some people will see bears where others won't. I spend a lot of time on a horse and when I'm riding down a trail and my horse suddenly stops and tenses up, I'm looking closely to what spooked him. I have seen lots of bears this way just casually watching us from thick brush. Often times if my horse hadn't detected the bear I wouldn't have likely seen it.



Author, Writer, Photographer
USFS certified bear proof containers doesn't mean the bear can't smell what's inside it. It just means they can't open it up.



Active Member
Excellent post Trapper.
Last spring a few of us were on horses in the Bob when the lead horse tensed up, stopped and flat refused to move. All the horses followed suit. All ears were tuned in to a thicket to the left. We sat for what seemed like an eternity and nobody spotted or heard anything. The horses moved on and for the next several minutes we were all hyper alert.
I've had two close encounters with bears on Prince of Wales island when I lived in Alaska but nothing that required actual defensive measures. Once they figured out what I was, we both went our separate ways. Since I've been in Montana, I've seen a few both black and grizz but nothing up close and personal. I concur with your comment on not being paranoid, just alert, cautious and aware. Nothing wrong with being prepared as well.


Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean there isn't a bear out to get you. :)

Seriously, in and around the YNP area we do not venture far from the road and even then, we do keep an eye open for bear. I realize that a bear is much more dangerous that is accustomed to humans... especially a grizz.

This is why I have no driving need to fish in Alaska on the same rivers as do the bear.

Last I heard, there aren't any grizzly bears in Oregon and the majority of the black bear here are timid and avoid humans. So I don't worry much about them in Oregon. But the YNP area is a completely different story.

When fishing certain parts of the park I am indeed paranoid about the possibility of a bear attack and I do indeed keep alert. The possibility of me going on a trail ride or hike into the backlands of YNP in bear country is zip. None. Nada. Fergetaboutit. There isn't enough bear repellant in the world to give me comfort in grizzly bear country.

So, I kid about it but I'm talking about the timid black bear in Oregon that don't pose much of a threat even if it is a sow and her cubs.

Trapper is absolutely correct when he warns about the bear situation in and around YNP.


Author, Writer, Photographer
I don't know if I told this story or not.

A few years ago I was cooking for summer roving trips in The Bob. I was riding Willy, one of my all time favorite geldings. Willy was a great horse with a big heart. He wasn't afraid of bears although moose really pissed him off, but moose and Willy encounter is another story.

Anyway, there had been a lot of wind and a lot of dead fall across the trails. The guests were off with the outfitter sight seeing while Karl, the packer led 13 pack mules. I rode out ahead of him to move or cut what dead falls I could. For much of the time I just led Willy down the trail carrying my pack saw instead of getting on and off as there were a lot of dead falls.

For one stretch we were out of the dead falls and I was able to ride. I felt Willy tense up and turn his head to the right. An adult Black bear came out of the brush and trotted across the trail in front of us about 10 feet in front of us. Willy watched him but didn't get spooked. I gave him a little nudge with my boot heel and he continued down the trail. I called out to Karl who was about 30 yards behind me and the bear stopped and sat down just watching the parade go by. He finally turned and took off into the brush.

A half hour or so later the trail dropped down to a small creek lined with thick brush. As we turned around a tight turn there was a burnt black stump next to the trail. Willy came off the ground and jumped sideways downhill, into the brush and nearly dumped us both into the creek. He finally got his legs under him and I turned his head back uphill and toward the trail and kicked him. He busted through the brush and back onto the trail.

I turned him back up the trail toward the stump and he didn't want anything to do with it. Finally, I nudged him closer so he could smell it and then he finally relaxed.

A real bear? No problem.

A pretend bear stump? Big problem.



Author, Writer, Photographer
The possibility of me going on a trail ride or hike into the backlands of YNP in bear country is zip. None. Nada. Fergetaboutit. There isn't enough bear repellant in the world to give me comfort in grizzly bear country.
Horses are great watch dogs in the back country. So are mules. In camp, generally, if there's anything going on the mules and horses will let you know with plenty of noise. In my opinion, they are much better than actual dogs. I don't worry about bears attacking me while I'm on a horse. I'm guessing the bear looks up and sees a very large 1100 - 1500 lb animal with a big ugly 200 lb growth on it's back and doesn't want any part of it. If you're with a pack string or with a group of riders I believe it's even more intimidating to the bears.

The only bears I really worry about are those habituated bears in YNP. They've seen too many tourons with cameras that posed no threat to them and sometimes even a food reward. That's a very dangerous bear.

The timid black bears, even with cubs, are not generally the problem. I wouldn't put my grandkids on their back for a Kodak moment though . . . :eek:



Lost in Nontana
Horses are great for letting you know if something is around even if you never see it. Just looked up some quick facts on Black vs Griz as to which is most deadly. 20 people killed by Black Bears in US & Canada, 17 by Griz since the year 2000. On 2 attacks the Griz killed more than one person. The Griz attacks where in the YNP-Mt, Alaska and Canada. Black Bear attacks ranged from Alaska to New York to Arizona.
So my conclusions are you are more likely to be attacked by a Black Bear, but only because there are more of them in more places.
But then again I know more people that have been accosted by Moose than bears. My self having experienced both with the moose the scariest.
I don't want people to be paranoid. I want them to be alert and cautious and aware.


You are absolutely right Trapper and Richard, and I hope it was clear that I was just joking. Awareness and common sense or being proactive are absolutely the best way to think about our interactions with nature.
I did see quite a few Brown bears in Kodiak, and even though they would get very close (and had a couple bluff charges), they were more interested in eating that messing with us.
However one interesting story is that one time camping on the upper St Joe roadless section, I woke up in the middle of the night with something grunting and sniffing the end of my sleeping bag (no tent). I was literally frozen with fear not sure what to do. Do I sit up and say something, do I make noise to scare it off, if I sat up would it be spooked and attack me.....I didn't know what to do. So I laid there for an eternity it seemed, and heard it shuffle off into the brush and I eventually fell back asleep. I woke up the next morning to find a pile of bear scat about 10 feet from the end of my bag. I had no food near me, so he must have just come over to check me out and then leave me a reminder that I was in his house. Don't know what kind it was, probably black, but it makes a great story now. Man was it a long paralyzing night though.

Thanks for a good thread Trapper and I hope my attempt at a joke didn't come off as callused.

Old Man

Just an Old Man
The small difference with bears is that a Grizz will maul you are drag you off to ripen up before he eats you while a Black bear will just eat on you if your dead or alive. They just don't care.


Purveyor of fine hackle, wine & cigars!

This vicious creature came in the shop today! I had to tax him and then ship him out to Dillon, MT!

Red Arch

Active Member
Ok so now a question not related to the elephant statistic,

Is there a holster you can get that attaches to your wading belt for bear spray?
As I am going to Yellowstone this July I would love to see a Grizzly, however preferably several hundred yards away, better yet through bino's.

And the best thing to do is walk away if they are getting close, and unlike cougar's look away correct?