A “scrawny” coyote bit two people at Old Faithful within 15 minutes. It was later shot. Story: Coyote killed in park after biting 2. by The Billings Gazette Staff.

How come wolves seem to be the only predatory large animal that don’t bite anyone?

– – – – – –

Update: I was surprised to find a very similar incident reported Dec. 31 at Death Valley National Park in the Park Services daily “morning report.” Ralph Maughan

THE MORNING REPORT
INCIDENTS



Death Valley National Park (CA)
Bobcat Attacks Result In Employee, Visitor Injuries
On Monday, December 17th, park staff were informed of an incident in which a bobcat had attacked a park visitor at Furnace Creek Inn. Rangers found that a 64-year-old woman had suffered scratches and bites on her hands, face and scalp. For several days thereafter, there were numerous bobcat sightings around the inn and resort. Rangers saw several bobcats that showed signs of habituation to humans, but were unable to determine which one was responsible for the attack. On Friday, December 21st, rangers responded to another report of a bobcat attack at the inn. An adult male employee of the resort had reportedly been smoking outside the building when the bobcat attacked him, inflicting bites and lacerations to his head and neck. Since the attack occurred on private property, California Fish and Game and the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office were notified. Fish and Game officers asked the park to euthanize the bobcat to ensure public safety. Necropsy results, received last week, revealed that the animal was not suffering from rabies. Rangers and Fish and Game officers found that several resort employees had been feeding wildlife, greatly contributing to the bobcats’ habituation and aggressive behavior. [Submitted by Aaron Shandor, Acting Chief Ranger]

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

72 Responses to Coyote bites two in Yellowstone

  1. avatar Salle says:

    Perhaps it’s because they aren’t very numerous and have had little opportunity for habituation like some of the other animals, like coyotes… there is one particular coyote in the Gibbon Meadows that is truly habituated and actually begs when there is an “elk” or “bison-jam” along the roadside.

    Americans think that the rules don’t apply to them, personally, so they can feed the wildlife ’cause they’re so cute… and what could it hurt?

    I’ve seen and heard this reply and action many times. When I approach them to tell them why their actions are harmful, they tell me to “f%#8-off, bitch. You just want to ruin my vacation with my kids.”

    Happens at least three or four times a summer when I approach a blatant offender.

  2. avatar Jay says:

    Doesn’t take too many baloney sandwiches for them to learn where the easy meal is…that coyote obviously knew from experience that packs mean food.

  3. avatar JB says:

    “Americans think that the rules don’t apply to them, personally, so they can feed the wildlife ’cause they’re so cute… and what could it hurt?”

    That’s a blatant over generalization. I’m American, visit YNP regularly, and am fully aware that the rules apply to me. Fortunately for us (Americans), the U.S. is not the exclusive source for idiots…though we seem to elect them in disproportionate numbers.

  4. avatar Salle says:

    JB,

    I see it so often that I have to say that you may be in a minority. I have been told that nasty bitch comment so many times that I wish I could evict these clowns from the Park for life. It isn’t just in YNP that I see this sort of thing happen so many times a day…

    How often do folks run a red light, throw trash somewhere other than a trash can/dumpster/bin, skate on some rule or other?

    It happens every day and it is part of a conditioned response to a mindset that springs forth from a belief in self-appointed-superiority. If you haven’t seen this, you probably don’t really watch people with a discerning eye, perhaps.

    I see people feeding the wildlife every time I go into the Park, every time. And how many millions of people go into the Park each year?

    I see this so much that I would almost rather stay in the house every day. I live right outside the Park and the trash I see all over the place reminds me that I am in the “good ol’ US of A” for certain. I have never seen this much disdain for nature than in the US.

  5. avatar Salle says:

    And you know we’ll never hear the end of it if a wolf ever bites a human in the Park.

  6. avatar JB says:

    Salle,

    I’m sorry you’ve had such a negative experience, but I can say in no uncertain terms that such behavior is not limited to Americans. If you want to see a total disregard for the environment, travel sometime to Mexico City–trash everywhere, smog worse than you’d find anywhere in the U.S. (people take the catalytic converters off their cars to get better mileage).

    And our neighbor to the North is not immune either. A little over a year ago I was visiting Vancouver for a conference and went to Stanley Park (Vancouver’s large metro park). I saw a large group of people feeding 3 raccoons that had gathered near a dumpster. I watched a women give a bag of popcorn to a two-year old to feed to the raccoons. Before I could say something, one of the raccoon’s rushed the child, and knocked the popcorn out of his hands. The women screamed, and grabbed her child. Afterward, the crowd dispersed; hopefully, having learned a lesson about feeding wild animals.

    Anyway, my point is that the U.S. doesn’t hold any patents on idiocy.

  7. avatar Mack P. Bray says:

    Salle, why don’t you put YNP numbers on speed dial in your phone, take license numbers and call?

    It’s what I do, in Yellowstone and elsewhere. 🙂

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

    wildlifewatchers@bresnan.net
    http://wildlifewatchers.jottit.com/

  8. avatar Salle says:

    I agree with you but I still hold that Americans seem to feel they have some sort of right to be and act that way. Most of my friends aren’t Americans and the majority of them don’t act that way. I have been to Mexico, lived along the border many times over many years. It would appear that the other cultures are imitating ours, in all aspects, including trashyness.

    Perhaps it’s a product of capitalism…

    To which I always say,

    “You may be an American, however, contrary to popular and successful marketing strategies, you cannot have it all.”

  9. avatar Salle says:

    Mack, I think that’s a great idea, I believe I’ll do just that.

    By the way, everybody….

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

  10. avatar Jim says:

    If you hate Americans so much why are you here?

  11. avatar vicki says:

    I think this is about habituating animals. Not a debate over anti-American sentiment. Jerks come from all over, not just America. the problem is not that all American’s are jerks, but that animals are suffering because of humans behaving badly.
    Every year I travel to YNP, and I see numerous violations of park rules. Feeding coyotes has long been a problem, and a few years ago read that people began road-side feeding of a wolf. Feeding bears was common practice for a very long time
    Not everyone is smart enough to refrain. Maybe we should punish those who break those rules by having them participate in the fate of the animal that they think is soooo cute. Maybe if they saw it’s lifeless eyes, knew that they had irreperabley harmed the lifecycle of every animal in the park…they’d stop. But I doubt it.

  12. avatar mike w says:

    salle, thanks for stepping up for the wildlife & the park. Seems like something we all need to do. National Parks are an American (U.S.) idea; one of our better ones. There always have always been forces in opposition to wilderness. We need to fight to keep what we have.
    I’m reminded of Edward Abbey’s essay on “Industrial Tourism” in Dessert Soliatre when I read these posts.

  13. avatar skyrim says:

    Relax Jim. Criticism of Americans is not a testimony against America. When will people like you see that fact? Salle’s points are spot on, and I would guess that if you spent any time in YNP you would know that fact.

  14. avatar timz says:

    Once I saw two very young children feeding a coyote out of the back of a camper in the parking lot of Old Faithful. As I was walking around I mentioned it to a park ranger whom I passed on the walkway. She just chuckled and said “Yes that little guy is pretty acclimated.” When I said I thought it was illegal, not to mention dangerous, to feed wildlife she just gave me a dirty look and walked away.

  15. Look around a little bit folks and be assured, littering and vandalism is not unique to the Americans – sorry, you did not even event it. Many others on this globe are at least as good or even better :-))
    It´s not related to a nation or a cultural circle, it´s related to the indviduals and there mostly confinded to the unemployed, the frustrated, the uneducated. At least you seem to have a more stringent law enforcement and higher fines for vandalism and littering compared to e.g. Germany. Sometimes (especially now, after the New Year celebration) I think that a certain level of vandalism has been quietly accepted by the public. I´m just back from a long walk in the woods with my dog. You would not believe the amount of trash you´ll find in the underbrush! Terrible!

  16. avatar Rick Hammel says:

    I have to agree that Americans are trashy. I went to Germany and Austria a couple of times in the past seven years. I could not believe the difference! No graffitti, no trash along the autobahn. Just a tidy roadway. I did see one thing out of place: a “cowboy” herding six cows on a bicycle!

  17. In reply to Rick:
    Glad you only saw the clean spots! All our cities are contaminated with graffiti. Not the “art” graffiti but only those dumb tags. It´s a nightmare ! Communities try to keep the city centers and tourist areas relatively clean but have surrendered on the outskirts.

  18. As a long-time observer of humans, I am convinced that we are hard- wired to feed animals. Very young children will share their food with pets, as do many adults. It is this trait that helped us domesticate many of our farm animals that provide us with food today.
    While feeding wild animals is not a good idea, I think you will be very busy if you decide to police everyone you see feeding animals in Yellowstone and other places. You are going up against millions of years of human evolution.
    Excuse me, I see that my bird feeder is empty!

  19. avatar Buffaloed says:

    Hey Rick, How did he get the cows onto the bicycle?

    I think that feeding wildlife in most situations is not a good thing for wildlife especially for animals that can cause harm to humans or would really put them at risk of becoming prey or that would transmit disease. I however, feel that feeding birds could be beneficial as long as it is done responsibly.

    I live in a Valley County, Idaho which has an anomaly in that foxes are a protected species due to county ordinance. There are many foxes here and most of my neighbors feed them. I haven’t determined any bad effects of this other than it is undoubtedly increasing the number of foxes even in downtown Cascade and McCall. In fact they can commonly be seen hanging out at Howdy’s or Maverick waiting for a handout.

    Anyone have any thoughts about this?

  20. Somewhere along the line a large portion of the public quit taking responsibility for their actions. {That covers quite a few topics, other than wildlife.} The result is a lot of killing of our wildlife, ie. leaving garbage out, feeding wildlife, and the livestock industry killing bison, polluted streams, etc. Along with the lack of responsibility, is that of entitlement. Just for being born they are entitled. {This is another topic which is difficult for me to stay on the subject of wildlife and the environment}. There are many example of this too; ie, The folks who pollute streams because it runs thru their property, and if it walks onto their property it becomes theirs. Also the attitude that everything is disposable and can be replaced. A woman selling tigers “parts” replied to officers, {paraphrased], “So what. I am entitled to make a living. When all the tigers gone, people can go to zoo to see them.” Where people exist on the globe, there exists these attitudes. I think we have probably all seen the “garbage dumps” out in rural communities, in nat’l forests, BLM land etc.

    Back to feeding wildlife. I feel the same as buffaloed, i only feed birds. I have made exceptions when I felt it was necessary for injured animals, until i could get them to a proper facility. Feeding wildlife is a disruption to the natural order of nature and in most cases harmful and lethal. I do not think it is respectful to creatures/nature to alter that natural order.
    Unfortunately, humans have not been able to keep from causing harm which also can be a viscous cycle. There are folks who beleive that helping by re-establishing species should not be done. But I beleive that to right a wrong with the best knowledge available needs to be done and then they need to be protected ,ie our wild bison, wolves, grizzlys etc.

    The FOXES—–having been fed for so long in a sense is similar to the Elk Refuge but on a much, much smaller scale. How do we undo an un-natural situation? So many things to be considered…. Has it caused disease? Is there a plan in place if there was a rabies outbreak? Are there any foxes remaining that remember how to hunt and feed theirselves? Are the adults still teaching offspring to hunt? Has the increase in the fox population been harmful to the ecosystem. That is such a difficult situation. And as i mentioned before the animals almost always suffer. It seems the best that can be done at this point is to continue. I do not think it would be possible to get the community to slowly decrease the amount of food available, but would it even be effective if they do notknow or remember how to forage? How does one teach a fox to do what should be natural? Would feeding them only what they would eat in the forest work? One small act can create dozens of problems and a multitude of questions. If there would be a need to remedy the situation, one thing for sure it will be difficult.

  21. avatar JB says:

    “And as i mentioned before the animals almost always suffer.”

    I would like to play devil’s advocate for a moment and point out a couple of things. First, individual animals habituate to humans because it helps them obtain food, and thus, actually avoid suffering. Some are killed/controlled or otherwise punished for this, but not all.

    Second, it is adaptive (and thus, natural) to obtain food from the easiest source. Why would an animal wander around looking for a source of food when one is readily available? A regular source of food obtained with little or no work allows individuals of a particular species to outcompete others, providing those individuals with an adaptive advantage.

    Moreover, benefits are not just limited to individuals; human food sources (while sometimes detrimental to populations), could also help increase survival in some populations, ultimately leading to more stable numbers and greater diversity. I’m not citing research, just being logical, but it seems species such as polar bears that utilize human dumps to obtain food in the warm seasons, may ultimately benefit from anthropogenic food sources.

    Finally, I would argue that certain species (song birds are a great example) can be readily habituated to human feeding with few negative consequences for individuals or populations. My point is, I don’t think it is okay to summarily condemn human feeding/habituation; its effects need to be judged on a case-by-case basis.

    JB

  22. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    The way I see it the issue of feeding animals is one of several issues. . one is that the foxes should be controlling the rodent population, if they are full of other food are they doing that? Second is that feeding an animal seems benign until animals become demanding, and often the person who taught the animal to solict food from humans is long gone by the time the animal tries to push someone else to be fed. . and then comes the two most dangerous attitudes of people: those who don’t think animals are scary, and those who do. People who feed and then want to pet a wild animal or let the animal control the situation are teaching the animal that humans are pushovers. . then there are the people who run, which is equally a lesson to the animal that humans are pushovers. SO, the only way the park rangers, forest service, or others in charge are able to control those situations is to make it illegal to feed animals in the first place. Not because feeding a starving animal is bad, but because people have become so clueless about being around animals. PS Sallie, I understood your comment about Americans. . we expect Americans to be more knowledgable and responsible because we are not a starving nation without the means to find out things. Unfortunately, these expectations are usually dashed in tourist situatioins.

  23. avatar vicki says:

    Salle,
    I’m sorry hat you’ve had negative interactions. I’ve only been to two countries besides the USA. They were equally as bad as here. The people who the same, some nice, some not. I travel to YNP atleast once or twice a year. I spend every weekend between April and December observing wildlife, largely in Colorado, and the worst experience I ever had was with a foreign tourist. I saved his son from nearly being trampled on and gored by a moose, and he had he nerve to curse at me for throwing the kid out of the way! (I bore the brunt of the bull’s rage to the tune of bruises in 80% of my body! I was lucky too!) The man wanted me arrested for touching his kid!!! I watched an entire bus full of non-American tourists get out and approach a herd of bison in the Hayden Valley, within a few feet. They caused a huge traffic jam. A ranger pulled up, warned them and asked them to get back into their vehicle and proceed. They waited until he left, and got right back out and stood feet away again, snapping away the pictures.
    I take photos, and I am always offering to take a family photo so that others can have a photo of their entire family on vacation. I have done this for over 100 families. On the two occasions when I had negative reactions to the offer, I was told to “sod off”, and was yelled at in German (I couldn’t tell you what he yelled, but it didn’t seem pretty!).
    By and large, I come in contact with many nice people. Most of them want what is best for the environment, some are just very uneducated. There are, ofcourse, some very rude folks too, but the are the exception, not the “American” rule If you consider how many people go to YNP each year, I’d say that it’s well preserved. And since the visitors number over a million anually, and the majoity of those visitors go primarily during the summer, it’s a testimony to Americans being tollerant. I doubt there are many other places on earth where you could place so many people into one wildneness area with limited places for road travel, and still have the limited crime levels you find in YNP.
    Let’s hear some of the good stuff…like how each year I see dozens of people offering to let others use their scopes in hope of getting a tiny glimpse of a wolf or grizzly, or how I have watched people offer assistance to others who have fallen or been hurt, or how children will give little bits of their new knowledge to others who stop to see an animal….or how I watched three grown men who never met a certain wheel chair bound woman before- take turns piggy-backing her to the bottom of Tower Falls and back up, so she and her husband could see the falls. (It made me cry.)
    SOME Americans are jerks, but so are many people from other places. Don’t let a few rotten apples spoil your opinion of a beautiful bunch.

  24. Is it necessary to add “generally speaking” or “this does not apply to all situations” to my comments? Or, some other disclaimer to cover every possible situation? Perhaps i was mistaken in thinking most people realize a post does not include every scenario. I may be remiss in thinking the obvious does not have to be rehashed with every additional post.

    RE; The FOXES, in my earlier post, was about the complexities that arise when the balance of nature is upset. Many questions are necessary to attempt to find a solution or conclusion and in some cases there are none as with the spotted owl. Others, as with the wild bison in the GYE, clearly are at opposite ends of the gradation scale. Or more colorfully, so as not to discriminate; it is either burnt ochre or cerulean blue. No muddy colors when speaking of bison. Either the truth reigns or not.

    Salle—I understand your comment. It is difficult to stay focused on the good, when things as you described happen so often. Some days i just don’t have the energy.

  25. avatar vicki says:

    d. Bailey Hill,
    It may not be necessary, but it is polite… and since the topic was shifted from feeding wild animals to rude Americans, (RUDE /AMERICANS), it was my feeling that that was rude to generalize.
    I don’t know of a time when generalizations are either accurate, or polite. If you are attempting to recruit allies in your battles against the bison, ticking off the American public “in general” is probably not productive.
    I often agree with your opinions, and I even agree that people can be quite rude…which I believe I expressed. Ofcourse it is not necessary to say “generally speaking”, or even “his does not apply to all situations”. But would it be so darn difficult to say “some rude people”? It is much less offensive than generalizations. I’m so sorry to have offended your delicate sensitivities by asking for a little sensitivity to others. I am seriously beginning to feel that Elk Hunter about the hypocracy that occasionally occurs here. Maybe a little more positivity would beget positivity.
    But this was not about Americans, or even rudeness.

    Maybe if we allowed ourselves to be distracted from the problem, and remain focussed we’d make more progress.

    On that note, there was a man (back east maybe) who did lengthy study on feeding bears. He set food out for them, and I don’t believe he ever had a violent interaction with one. Although I doubt that itis ever wise to feed wild animals, maybe there would be some lesson of value in that study.
    Also, we do have some productive human interference, as with Mexican wolves.

    Coyotes adapt quickly, and are known for living in close proximety to humans. (Foxes also) Lately, coyotes in Colorado are in the news a lot. They are eating dogs and approaching people. They aren’t being controlled in these situations because of the location. The people effected aren’t feeding the coyotes, and are trying to deter the behavior.
    Normally I’d say it was their decision to move into coyote habitat. However, some of the coyotes have been in very populated city locations. What should happen here?

    I don’t know that a fox would ever need to bite a human, so long as their food supply is always at the ready. Are these townsmen hand feeding the animals or just placing food out? If they hand feed the foxes, I’d guess it is only a matter of time before it becomes a very large conflict.

  26. avatar vicki says:

    p.s. I meant your battle on behalf of bison, my apology for the typo.

  27. avatar mike w says:

    This is a well informed group, so hopefully we lead by example & gentle comments. Feeding wildlife almost always leads to poor consequences. Keep in mind most rangers aren’t supposed to write tickets, but are supposed to call on the law enforcement rangers (or LEs). Of course the animals suffer when poorly informed people do unfortunate things; and I’m sure everybody here has a favorite tale of stupidity.
    There is a tale of two cities, Aspen & Vail. One had many kind-hearted people feeding wildlife (including foxes); the other enacted strict restrictions. You could read it at: http://www.gjsentinel.com/news/content/news/stories/2007/12/28/122807_3a_bears.html

  28. Vicki and all—
    Both of my posts were are wildlife feeding with additional references to some other environmental concerns.
    Please do not take my comments out of context.

    The ONLY comment i made in reference about rude people was the following;
    “Salle—I understand your comment. It is difficult to stay focused on the good, when things as you described happen so often. Some days i don’t have the energy.”
    EXPLANATION—I don’t always have the energy to keep from being in a down mood on some days when so many negative/bad events happen.

    My post on January 2, at 5:50 pm——
    All that i wrote was about wildlife feeding except for some environmental issues and some other animals adversely affected by wasteful ideas.

    My second post on Jan.3 at 2:49 am—-
    The paragraph Vicki mentions is also about wildlife feeding as explained in the next paragraph starting with RE: The FOXES.
    Would it have helped to eliminate the space between paragraphs? I know i don’t always move my pinky finger quick enough from the enter key, nor do i always ‘fix’ the gap, and i am careless with puncuation.
    Since my comment is at the root of a most unfortunate misunderstanding, I apologize for any confusion that has resulted and for the disruption from the subject of the coyotes. It has never been or will be my intention to generalize anyone or anything and i am confident that my comments on this blog has reflected my belief that nothing should ever be generalized. Again, i apologize.

  29. avatar JB says:

    “Is it necessary to add “generally speaking” or “this does not apply to all situations” to my comments? Or, some other disclaimer to cover every possible situation?”

    DBH- It was not my intent to attack your position; my apologies if this is the way my post came across. As I mentioned, I was playing devil’s advocate.

    My point was/still is, that it is not appropriate to summarily condemn wildlife feeding as bad. This isn’t just because for some groups of species (e.g. song birds) there are few negative consequences associated with feeding. It’s also because, if done correctly, wildlife in general can be fed with few negative consequences to individual animals or people. For example, I know that wildlife photographers sometimes habituate animals to take food from particular spots. The food (which might be a carcass) is not associated with human presence, and so there are benefits for both the photographer (great photo opps) and the animal (free food source).

    Anyway, my point was to add another point of view to the discussion. Sorry if I offended.

    JB

  30. JB—no worries here. I am not offended. Maybe just reiteratimg that i do not beleive all wildlife feeding is harmful , but i do think that more often than not, it presents harmful situations, could have sufficed. I guess i felt misunderstood which is an assumption on my part. Making assumptions is a major pet peeve of mine.
    Sometimes two people say the same thing, but in a way that neither understand or even different viewpoints. A perfect example is an artist and an engineer describing the same item/problem. I have almost 12 years experience with that, and after a couple heated debates, i found a way of explaining my thoughts in a way that made sense. No more heated debates and/or arguements. Just good discussions.
    I was a bit cranky from falling down the stairs and was trying too hard to be understood.

    I didn’t know that photogs set food out to get good shots. That’s a bit of a let down. I prefer the adventure in finding those chance magic moments.

  31. avatar vicki says:

    d. Bailey Hill,
    My apologies as well. I do have to say, we are on the same page. By the way… how goes it with the bison research? Anything new? We have began an educational out reach… will be starting with some girl scouts.
    Again, apologies for any misurnderstanding on my behalf…. I too disagree with any generalizations.
    I am trying to figure out what the name of the program was regarding the man who fed bears. I know he was also profile in a show on Discovery about rouge bears, myth or fact.

  32. It was Grizzly Man by Werner Hertzog

  33. vicki,
    Apology accepted. I knew something was ‘off’ having exchanged emails with you outside this blog. With issues that stir such passion it is easy and inevitable that we may miss a key word or phrase that is essential to a post.
    Thank you for posting again about it.
    I’ll see if my good luck has returned and search for the bear show.

    buffaloed asked earlier on this thread if anyone had any thoughts about the county ordinance protecting the local foxes. I was only able to come up with a list of more questions. Anyone??

  34. With the info given about the coyote; maybe it is just an anomoly or previously it may have been harassed by a person /persons. If it was due to abuse i doubt anyone will will confess, and it will remain a mystery.
    The bear that killed Tim the Grizzly Man and his companion had been captured numerous times. In the movie he stated that if any bear was going to attack him, it would be that bear.

  35. avatar vicki says:

    Ralph,
    I actually found some info. the Discovery Channel had a series called Rogue Predators. One of the predators featured was bear. The host , Samonli, actually visited where Tredwell was killed. But he also vistied an older gentleman who had actually raised black bears. The man practiced making food available, under controlled circumstances. If I rmember right, he set out bins, on his porch, full of seed for bears. He made all the other food sources off limits. I’d have to watch again to be sure, but I recolect that he summized the bears were content with that food source, and did not attempt to get other food when the seed was made available.
    I guess my question would then be , “What happens when you can’t put the seed out anymore?”
    The man swears to be able to predict behavior, and the show’s host went with tis man into the woods to contact bears that were habituated to the seed feeding, and my have been raised by this gentleman. The bears he raised were released and did let him very near their young after they reproduced in the wild.
    I am trying to get more info.

  36. I remember that show! Was the fellow who met the man named Dave Salmoni ? I can’t recall the interveiwer….
    Your description should make it less difficult to find.

  37. avatar vicki says:

    bearstudy.org was interesting, a lot of similar info….itmay be worth reading

  38. avatar vicki says:

    Yes! Salmoni is the zoologist who went to the man’s house.

  39. avatar mike w says:

    “A feed bear is a dead bear.” It’s more than a saying, too many documented cases show it’s truth.
    The same thing can happen with wolves. It did happen in Canada’s Algonquin Provincial Park. Dr. Halfpenny cites the problem in his Yellowstone Wolves in Wild book, pages 80-82. He also discusses early problems with Yellowstone Wolves, specifically 163M and Druid pups during the 2001/02 season.

  40. avatar Salle says:

    My point, from a couple days ago might have included the concept that perhaps there are juts too many people and we should control our population increases, wild~land encroachment and behaviors affecting the wildlife instead of the other way around.

    That’s what I was working into.

    I, too, apologize for any offenses. But to be clear, I am just not in favor of humans when it comes to humans vs wildlife and their habitat.

  41. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    The man’s name you are looking for is Dr. Lynn Rogers who feeds black bears. . and Tim Treadwell did NOT feed bears. . I don’t know where that rumor started. Even Warner Herzog who got most of his life and information about bears wrong did not say Treadwell fed bears.

  42. Vicki,
    The documentary you are looking for is titled-“The Man Who Walks With Bears”. here is where to go;
    http://www.wildliferesearchinstitute.com/Video_Book_CD
    It can be purchased at the site for thirty dollars.

  43. avatar Jim says:

    I spent time in yellowstone park, and what I saw was someone from a foreign contry trying to put his daughter on a buffalo for a picture, another that tore off into the woods after a bear when warned there was a black bear just off the trail, and another getting arrrested for disregarding the orders of a ranger. I find it amusing that people come to this country and bash it and disregard the fact that it isnt just Americans that are ignorant.

  44. avatar Mike Post says:

    One of the darkest moments in my public service career involved the killing of a two year old little girl by a coyote and the subsequent slaughter of every coyote found within a 5 mile radius of that event. There are significant unintended consequences to the habituation of predators to humans as food sources. The fact some cases can be cited where it seems to work out (so far) is not relevent. That is exactly what the humans in that little girl’s world would have said the day before her death to justify years of feeding. Justifications for the recreational feeding of wildlife are never more than emotional self-indulgence and represent an ignorance of the dynamics of the natural world. One of you said it yourselves, the day this happens with a wolf, all of your efforts will come tumbling down. Thank goodness the wolf seems less enamored with our temptations than does the old Trickster.

  45. avatar JB says:

    MP says: “Justifications for the recreational feeding of wildlife are never more than emotional self-indulgence and represent an ignorance of the dynamics of the natural world.”

    Okay, I take exception to a couple of these comments. I sympathize with the horrible situation you were put in, but disagree (as I stated earlier) that recreational feeding can be summarily condemned.

    First of all, pretty much all recreational human behavior centers around “emotional self-indulgence,” so condemning the recreational feeding of wildlife from this perspective simply doesn’t work: it doesn’t differentiate recreational feeding from any other recreational activity. You might just as easily condemn fishing (which, now that I think about it, also constitutes the recreational feeding of wildlife), or playing video games–we engage in behaviors because there is a positive (and often immediate) emotional consequence.

    Second, there are many conditions under which wildlife can be recreationally fed that benefit both the person doing the feeding and the individual animal. People feed song birds, waterfowl, squirrels, fish, deer, and a host of other species–often without negative consequences. In some cases, even feeding that results in habituation to humans is unproblematic. The case you mention is only problematic because the particular animal habituated to human feeding was a mid-sized carnivore capable of inflicting serious injury, and it was apparently hand-fed (my assumption) so as to become completely unafraid of humans.

    Feeding wildlife (especially birds) can benefit both the individual animal being fed, and also the individual feeding (positive emotional consequence). In fact, research suggests interactions with animals can have positive health benefits for people, which brings me to my final point: I believe I just justified the recreational feeding of wildlife without displaying an “ignorance of the dynamics of the natural world.”

  46. JB,
    Addressing ignorance; Most people can’t comprehend anything past the end of their noses. So, people who are feeding animals as fun/recreational are probably ignorant of the consequences or feed because they could care less about the consequences and gain some sort of emotional comfort which would be very selfish on the persons part.
    So it makes sense that there is a law telling people to not feed the wildlife. Persons who specialize in wildlife issues won’t feed them. So why should people not educated in such matters feed wildlife? Simply because they are physically capable of giving to an animal? Or because it makes the person happy? That is both selfish and arrogant.
    It is well known that contact with animals has positive health benefits and there are several kinds of “pets” at animal shelters the world over. For example, dogs were domesticated for many reasons but i wil focus on companionship. People decided certain physical attributes were more liked than others, and bred to create a new breed with specific attributes pleasing to people. There are llists of problems with health and motors skills those breeds have to deal with, ie, French Bulldogs; The females cannot breed without human help. They are not physiologically capable of carrying a litter to term and in most cases the litter is delivered by caeserian. Not a pleasant experience for the dog. Other breeds have gastrointestinal defects and problems digesting; Animals producing gas in their bellys that just sits there, can experience or is in excruciating pain. Joint pain is also an issue. Is it not thoughtless and selfish in the first place with breeding techniques, but then allow to keep breeding an animal that can or will suffer ? I bet that there are persons who euthanize animals because they are not “up to par”.
    Is it worth taking a chance feeding a wild animal for personal enjoyment , when in most cases the effects are negative? ie. Someone mentioned the phrase “a fed bear is a dead bear.”

    You stated that “you justified the recreational feeding of wildlife without displaying an ‘ignorance of the dynamics of the natural world'”.
    So you feel that it is okay regardless, as long as it “can have positive health benefits for people”.
    As i stated above, that is both selfish and arrogant.
    It would be better and beneficial for the person and animal for the person go to a shelter and visit and play with those animals who spend most of their day in a cage.
    In general or in most cases I think it is inapropriate to feed wildlife because of the potential harm that can result to both human and animal.
    I am really trying to understand your thoughts. Having said that, can or would you interchange “summarily condemn” with “generalization”?
    Are there situations that you beleive are inappropriate to feed wild animals?

  47. avatar Jay says:

    JB–kicking a dog for sport is an emotional self-indulgence, but I think any sane person would agree its not right and can be condemned, don’t you think? So, from that standpoint, not every emotional self indulgence is acceptable, yes? Some self-indulgences are acceptable, others not, despite what you say.

  48. avatar JB says:

    Jay says: “Some self-indulgences are acceptable, others not, despite what you say.”

    Jay, I think you mis-interpreted my post. I NEVER suggested that ALL self-indulgences are acceptable, I stated that all forms of recreation are undertaken in order to elicit a positive emotional response. In other words–we do things in our free time because we like the emotions associated with those activities. Thus, condemning the recreational feeding of wildlife based on the fact that it is an emotional self-indulgence does not really differentiate it form any other form of recreation.

    I agree with you completely that not every form of self-indulgence is acceptable; then again, I never stated otherwise–despite what you say.

    DBH:”I am really trying to understand your thoughts. Having said that, can or would you interchange “summarily condemn” with “generalization”?

    JB: First, thank you for trying to understand–I apologize for not expressing myself more clearly. In answer to your question: yes, definitely!

    DBH: Are there situations that you beleive are inappropriate to feed wild animals?”

    JB: Of course! I just don’t believe its right to summarily condemn these activities (for the reasons mentioned above).

    Would like to type more, but I’m off on a date with my wife tonight (undertaken to fulfill an emotional self-indulgence). Sorry guys, but she takes priority over you all! 😉

  49. avatar vicki says:

    d. Bailey Hill,
    Thanks for the link! I think I will buy it.

    Linda Hunter, I don’t think anyone meant that Treadwell fed bears. I think Ralph was trying to help me figure out, based on my bad clues, who Dr. Rogers was, and what the name of his documentary was.
    I know Treadwell was never thought t have fed bears, but he is, sadly, just as dead.
    JB, Jay… it may be right, in some situations to feed wild animals. Maybe it is just not right to bait them, or hand feed them. Maybe their consumption of human supllied food should very closely resemble how they would find the food in the wild? ie: Wolves getting road killed deer, bird getting seeds from feeders that look like flowers. I’d think it would only be appropriate to feed any wild animal if man made circumstances limited their ability to feed themselves.I don’t think anyone with an ounce of sense would suggest hand feeding wolves or grizzlies. I am sure that hand feeding wolves has been done though. I know at one point wolves who were getting some sort of human hand outs were venturing into roadways in YNP.
    However, I am going to watch the film about Dr. Rogers again. I think he fed the bears from designated feeders, not by hand. I also think he did so out of the desire to prove that bears were not mindless killing machines or menaces, and that they could be conditioned to seek food in specific ways…like not in trash cans or through windows of houses… I’ll know when I watch it.

    Salle, Thank you, very much, for clarifying.

  50. avatar vicki says:

    Linda, I meant to add… sadly just as dead. He made other huge mistakes. I personally believe he took risks that everyone should know not to take. He was well intentioned, but gave the very bears he sought to help a bad rep. I showed my children his films, and the one about him, as an example of what not to do when we got into bear habitat.

  51. JB,
    Thanks! That cleared it up.

    Vicki,
    This may be a completely wrong memory; was there a documentery in which a biologist or someone had used negative reinforcement to deter/train black bears to be afraid of the standard metal garbage cans. They were the local bears, {not vacationing bears}snicker, snicker. This person or persons had experimented with many ideas to make the bears not want to come to houses. I do remember that i was very ill at the time, so i could be completely confused in what i think i am remembering.

  52. avatar JB says:

    No problem, DBH! As I said in an earlier post, to some extent I’m playing devil’s advocate here. Anyway, call it a reaction to the Bush administration, but lately when I hear someone say something is “bad” or “wrong” or “evil,” I immediately start looking for examples to the contrary. In my opinion, Black and white, or polarized depictions of issues are very effective as political communications, but they are always oversimplifications of more complex issues.

  53. avatar Jay says:

    Not trying to be confrontation here JB, but I think the same could be said that maybe you misinterpreted DBH’s post where he mentioned “emotional self indulgence”. I don’t think he was trying to describe the human psyche and drive for rereational fulfillment. I’d suggest that his statement was intended to comment on the misguided activity of feeding animals to somehow make ourselves feel like we did them some good. And certainly there are cases where feeding does no harm–birds being a good example. However, there are exceptions to every rule, and for every exception, I can rattle off 10 examples to the contrary. Case in point–some folks north of where I live throw out hay for elk on their pasture, which is situated right next to a rural highway. There’s perfectly good winter range directly above their pasture, but elk being elk, they choose the easy life of daily feedings of alfalfa. And not unexpectedly, there are always a handful of elk carcasses laying next to the highway from being drawn down from the hills and unnaturally congregated next to the highway, where they get hit by vehicles. So, in this situation, not only are elk being killed by kindness, people are being put at risk too when they have to drive 1-2 mile gauntlet of 500-pound road obstacles. Just because some folks think they’re doing a good thing by feeding the wildlife.

  54. avatar JB says:

    Gave this some more thought, and wanted to share a story…

    Several years ago, my uncle asked me to come out to the Elk’s club to try and get a few photos of raccoons that the club had fed. You see, each evening someone would take a basket of popcorn and dump it outside. An hour or so later, a couple of raccoons would come to gobble up the popcorn, much to the delight of the patrons. I reminded him of the dangers of feeding wildlife–especially animals known to commonly carry rabies, but he just shrugged.

    Anyway, I went out to the club and I took a few photos as the raccoons approached, but was losing a lot of light shooting through the tinted windows. I slowly stepped out the door to try and get a better shot, and both animals immediately high-tailed it into the woods. Apparently, they had never learned to associate the food with people, they only learned that if they showed up at this location at a certain time, there was usually a pile of popcorn awaiting them.

    Now, this isn’t something I would advocate–in fact, I would discourage most people. But its also an example of a situation where the feeding was mutually beneficial for animals and people people involved.

    Another example. I know of at least one photographer that would get his shots of predators by finding a deer carcass along the road and dragging it deep into the woods. He would then set up a blind and wait to see what kind of critters came. In this scenario, he may actually have helped save wildlife, as scavengers feeding on roadside carcasses are more susceptible to being hit by cars.

    Anyway, just a couple of examples of how recreational feeding of wildlife is not always a bad thing.

    JB

    PS. The only wildlife I intentionally feed are birds–unfortunately this also means I’ve been feeding squirrels and mice. If anyone has ideas on how I could feed the former and not the latter, I’m all ears!

  55. avatar Jay says:

    Like I said, there are exceptions to every rule, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions, as the old saying goes. I understand your point, certainly there are specific situations where wildlife may benefit in the short term. But the fact is, wherever wildlife and humans interact, wildlife eventually end up losing. In my neighborhood, fed deer end up being hit (just passed a dead one the other day), killed by domestic dogs, caught in fences, killed by hunters (in October, our neighbors went out and shot one of our subdivision deer that was so used to people that it didn’t know to run), all because they’ve been conditioned to easy meals out of peoples’ yards.

    Good luck on your mice and squirrel project…if you find a solution, be sure to patent it because it’ll make you millions…

  56. avatar JB says:

    Jay, I guess we got our posts got crossed in cyberspace. Anyway, I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said, but do have a couple of points I’d like to clarify.

    Again, just a clarification, but my comments regarding indulging one’s emotions were initially in reference to a post by Mike Post. I have no doubt, as you say, that people justify the feeding of wildlife with the often untrue notion that they are helping these animals. But what set me off was the statement: “Justifications for the recreational feeding of wildlife are never more than emotional self-indulgence and represent an ignorance of the dynamics of the natural world.” I’ll stand by my original comments with respect to this statement.

    You stated, “…there are exceptions to every rule, and for every exception, I can rattle off 10 examples to the contrary.” Here we couldn’t agree more, and this was my initial (earlier in the discussion) where I said that, “it is not appropriate to summarily condemn wildlife feeding as bad.”

    In my view, there is nothing inherently wrong with feeding wildlife–the problems associated with feeding wildlife are situational (e.g. elk fed too close to the road, predators fed by hand/habituated to people, etc.). Often (BUT NOT ALWAYS) the same activity can be undertaken in such a way that there is little or no danger to the wildlife or the people involved.

  57. JB,
    Go to http://www.birdwatchers.com where you will a variety of squirrel proof feeders.

    Jay,
    I’m a she. The “he” association happens often when there is just my name. It’s funny!

  58. avatar Jay says:

    Sorry D.! Another good example of the perils of assumptions 🙂

  59. avatar vicki says:

    d. Bailey Hill,
    I do remember a study where bears were conditioned away from homes by using various noises and scents around houses. Also where the bears were shocked when they opened containers…I think it would be a similar effect as when you fire off blanks to scare them, or even rubber bullets. (I only know of one bear killed by a rubber bullet.)
    I’ve seen different proto-types of bear proof conatiners. But I haven’t actually seen any that teach bears by giving them negative reinforcement. I’d be interested in seeing one though.

  60. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    Vickie and DBH . . the first season I lived in Alaska with bears all around I thought that they would need some real physical teaching like you are talking about, rubber bullets, pepper spray, air horns, dogs and stuff like that. . fortunately the bears taught us that just simple body language works with them. . you can show them where your boundary lines are with body language!! In order, however, to be able to project no nonsense body language it helps if you have backup pepper spray or some other plan B. I hope someday that all the professionals who work with bears will be able to teach these things to hunters, recreationalists and anyone else who lives and plays in bear country. It CAN be taught. I think that it isn’t because someone would not do it right, get hurt and then blame someone else. So instead they tell people to put their hands in the air and yell .. which makes bears think you are a lunatic. . and nothing wants to have anything to do with a crazy animal, human or otherwise. . . so it works, most of the time. 🙂

  61. avatar Annene says:

    Hi,

    we are just back from Old Faithful. Most of the cayotes are just fine. I saw 6 in a pack one day when I was out skiing and they behaved perfectly, they went out of my way and stayed away in a respectful distance (well that means to fare away for taking one of those perfect photos with a normal camera……). The problem at Old Faithful in the windertime is (we are there every year), that many visitors don’t know how to behave when there are wild animals ruling the environment. People feeding them, which means killing them, visitors are are not taking care that they stay in a respectful distance because they want to take nice pictures….. Well, no wonder….
    Unfortunately, at the end the animals are punished (killed) for something people are responsible for. It is sad…

  62. avatar Mike Post says:

    Well JB, we will have to agree to disagree. Even bird feeding can have negative consequences. Bird populations that are sustained at higher than normal levels by feeding stations result in bird concentrations that spread disease and set that population up for a cruel crash should the feeding cease for any of a multitude of reasons.

    You can continue recreational feeding when you think it is “appropriate” if you like and the rest of us will continue to pick up the pieces. The question I would ask myself if I were you is why are you seem so compelled to defend this activity when there are so many negative examples and the wildlife professionals of the world speak out against it.

    Now, does every case of recreational feeding end up with a negative result? Who knows? Most of us have not a clue what the overall impact on the local ecosystem is when we interact with wildlife populations on a personal level. For that very reason, one should adopt the position that if there is potential for harm and no exigency at hand, don’t do it.

  63. avatar vicki says:

    Linda,
    I am sure that works the majority of the time. We were talking specifically about animals that have already been habituated, not just deterring any bear we see.
    I also know that body language and common sense are great, but not all bears follow rules. Pepper spray should be as normal a thing to pack for a hike as water is.n Frankly, if we could require a “Common Sense” license we wouldn’t need to have these discussions at all.
    I wonder about (maybe Ralph has input) black bears being more likely to seek trash, or just more likely because of proximety to the trash, and due to larger populations?
    I’m not saying we should just go out and shoot every bear we see with a rubber bullet, but I think once they are a known problem-repeat offender-that my be a viable alternative to shooting them with a lead bullet!
    We make choices, and I would never personally choose to feed a coyote or a bear.
    But we were specifically interested in the research done, as mentioned above, and if he hand fed the bears (which I doubt), or just set very strong boundaries.
    Thanks.

  64. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    Vickie in my experience black bears are sort of the junk food eaters of the bear world. . they will try anything. Grizzlies are more selective if there are natural foods available. If you want to catch up on the hand feeding research, and habituation try “Among bears: Raising Orphaned Cubs in the Wild” by Benjamin Kilham, then “Grizzly Seasons” by Charlie Russell and Maureen Enns. Dr. Rogers does feed bears in several ways. He also walks with them, and puts mini-cams in their dens in winter. He has made some very interesting discoveries. i expect he has a web site but I haven’t looked. “The Great American Bear” by Jeff Fair and Lynn Rogers can be ordered from you local library. Also, you might want to read about habituation at http://www.wildraven.net/carnivores/ursidae/grizzly/habituation/report.html Dr. Rogers does seem to welcome questions but I have not met him personally.

  65. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    OK I found Dr. Rogers web site .. it is: http://www.bearstudy.org

    I think you will be surprised. Look at the field classes page.

  66. avatar JB says:

    “You can continue recreational feeding when you think it is “appropriate” if you like and the rest of us will continue to pick up the pieces. The question I would ask myself …is why are you seem so compelled to defend this activity when there are so many negative examples and the wildlife professionals of the world speak out against it.”

    First of all, MANY wildlife biologists feed birds, which can also have positive effects. I don’t have any literature at hand, but I would guess it is especially beneficial for migrating birds moving through urban areas (where natural habitat, and food sources are limited). The ornithologist down the hall is out for the next week, but I’ll be sure and ask her when she returns.

    At any rate, returning to your question: I’m compelled to defend recreational feeding of wildlife because I believe it CAN BE (not IS, but CAN BE) a legitimate way to interact with, and thus develop an appreciation for, wildlife.

    There is a considerable amount of literature suggesting that people who interact with nature during their formative years are more likely to appreciate nature as adults (see Louv’s Last Child in the Woods). Many of us grew up interacting with wildlife primarily as consumers (i.e. via hunting and fishing). Unfortunately, these activities are often not available to kids today. How will the next generation of conservationists develop knowledge and appreciation of wildlife when we keep decreasing their opportunities for interactions?

    As I mentioned above, I have an inherent dislike for arguments presented as unequivocal. There are exceptions to every rul. I don’t believe that recreational feeding is necessarily good or bad for wildlife–rather I suggest it should be judged on a case by case basis. If you wish to unequivocally condemn it, that is your prerogativ. I can agree to disagree.

  67. JB, And anyone interested,
    The feeding of wildlife, to what i sum up from our discussion, directly relates to making a personal connection with nature, the ultimate result being a genuine interest in the natural world and instilling in young minds an interest in the continuation and preservation of the world that they live in. Or to rephrase;it is essential that one must develope a personal connection to the natural world in order to conserve all things related to the environment if any parts of the world are to be left for future generations. I think of Steve Irwin’s motto that “people want to save the things they love”. Education is the key. “Beyond Ecophobia; Reclaiming the Heart in Nature Education” an article written by David Sobel, goes into great detail about the most effective way to educate children about the environment, which the current educational curriculum does not even come close to- enabling children to connect with nature and have a healthy relationship with their world. If they have not developed the skills necessary to have respect for animals and nature in their own communities how will they understand what the phrase, “save the whales” means? I guess what i am getting at is that it goes beyond whether or not to feed wildlife as it is only one part to a much larger picture.
    I would be interested in your thoughts regarding the article. If you google, david sobel “beyond ecophobia” , there is info about where to find and purchase this. The article is only about 14 pages long. A quick but very detailed read.

  68. Linda !! Thanks for the info. I am putting this on my absolutely have to do list. With the classes already booked for this year and the fact i have a few plans already, i may sign up for 2009.

  69. avatar Mike Post says:

    d. Bailey Hill, thank you for that observation and reference. I could not agree more. It is a “bigger picture” in which feeding is only one consideration. I would just hope that feeding, because of its ease of implementation, almost certainty of “success”, and the well discussed attendant problems would not be the first or only option employed.

    It has been a nice spirited educational discussion which I think has recreationaly fed Ralph’s goals for this site! THX.

  70. avatar JB says:

    DBH-

    Sobel’s work is cited quite a bit in Louv’s “Last Child in the Woods.” Personally, I agree with Sobel, though I think this line of study is in its infancy. At any rate, Sobel’s essay gets right to the heart of my greater concern, when he talks about, “what happened in the childhoods of environmentalists…to make them grow up with strong ecological values? …When Louise Chawla of Kentucky State University reviewed these studies she found an intriguing pattern. Most environmentalists attributed their commitment to a combination of two sources, “many hours spent outdoors in a keenly remembered wild or semi-wild place in childhood or adolescence, and an adult who taught respect for nature.”

    My concern is that we (environmentalists) have become so politically correct about what constitutes a proper interaction with nature, that we’ve stigmatized the subject for children. Thus, they learn nature is something to be feared and revered (which I agree with), but they also learn that nature is to be kept at arms length. I agree that most recreational feeding of wildlife is bad for the individual animals involved–no question. However, I think we should be careful not to overly stigmatize such activities–which are not ALWAYS bad for the wildlife involved.

    Okay, I’m off the stump.

    Mike/DBH: Thanks for your willingness to debate the topic!

  71. I think the biggest problem as the result of political correctness, is that so much over-thinking has stymied even the most miniscule inkling of commensense, leading to both indecision and inaction. Maybe that was the point of creating political correctness…..it went far beyond common curtiousy. Part of the human condition is the innate tendency to complicate matters and at the other extreme using that as an excuse to over- simplify which willingly steps on a lot of toes as a result. Just a “pet peave” of mine.

    Mike and JB,
    Add a big thanks from me too! And another thank you to Ralph for continuing his blog.

  72. avatar roger martin says:

    I live within 500 feet of the Great Smokys nat. Park.

    I work close to the park in Gatlinburg Tn. I see people constantly feeding bear and other wild animals. When I approach and explain what they are doing is harmful, generally I get attitude back. They really don’t want to know that what they’re doing is bad,. All they care about is having a neat vacation.

    I see tourists come here decide they like the “wilderness” and then buy a mtn top home. Then months later they’re callings wildlife folks to come up and “do something about these coyotes howling, their keeping us up all night.” Or complaining because bear are walking thru their “yard”

    They want it both ways, to live with the animals,,, as long as the animals dont come into “their” yard anymore.

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