Island Park Grizzly that Attacked Hound Hunter Found Alive and Well with Her 3 Cubs.

Idaho Fish and Game Press Release

Grizzly with cubs © Ken Cole
Grizzly with cubs © Ken Cole

Date: July 13, 2009
Contact: Ed Mitchell
(208) 334-3700

Bear Who Bit Hunter Located

DNA is a powerful tool.

Preliminary results of saliva from one of the bite marks where a female grizzly bear bit a hunter on June 28 returned a match to a radio-collared grizzly with three cubs.

The hunter was one of three eastern Idaho black bear hunters who got an unpleasant surprise on the morning of June 28 when their hounds surrounded a female grizzly with cubs.

The bear took after the hunters, knocked down Keith Klingler, 38 of Idaho Falls, bit him on the right arm and tossed him around. His brother, Eric Klingler dug his .44-caliber Magnum handgun out of his pack and took a shot at the bear, deliberately firing high to avoid hitting his brother.

He may have missed or only inflicted a flesh wound. A scheduled Idaho Fish and Game grizzly bear monitoring flight in early July in the same area located the collared bear and her three young cubs. All four appeared fine, said Daryl Meints, regional wildlife manager for the Upper Snake Region of Idaho Fish and Game.

Keith Klingler was treated at Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg for lacerations to his right arm. He had no other apparent injuries.

The Klingler brothers and Corey Raichart, all three from the Idaho Falls area, were hunting black bears with hounds on Bishop Mountain near Harriman State Park. They released their hounds on a scent, and the dogs soon surrounded what the men thought was a black bear. When they arrived, they quickly realized they had a grizzly.

The hunters reported seeing two cubs with the female grizzly. None of them noticed whether the bear was wearing a radio-collar.

Fish and Game officials will continue weekly monitoring from the air, but they do not plan to track the bear on the ground unless they get a mortality signal. Officials also recommend that anyone heading into the backcountry carry bear spray.





  1. Virginia Avatar

    Sorry – but I think the “boys” got what they asked for. For once, the bears won this one!

  2. Ken Cole Avatar

    I agree Virginia, I notice that the IDFG has no plans to seek retribution on her as she was not at fault just defending herself and her cubs. She didn’t seek the conflict.

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    So this turned out OK for everyone. I’d say that’s good news.

    There was a time, not too long ago, when grizzlies were usually tracked down and killed if they hurt someone regardless of the reason.

    Folks seem to grown up over the last decade.

    However, if this was a wolf that was the center of the incident, you can bet local politicians would be out there leading a posse to secure the county and protect the populace from impending slaughter by 300 pound “Canadian” wolves.

    Hopefully in another ten years, wolves will be treated like bears.

  4. Robert Bunch Avatar
    Robert Bunch

    This is great news and I am glad to hear it! I don’t see how these guys can be called hunters. It seems like the dogs did most of the hunting while these guys just blundered around in their incompetence. I don’t see how anyone using a high powered rifle or handgun can call themselves hunters anyway. A true hunter would use a bow and arrow or better yet a spear! Most of the these so-called hunters are really just shooter/killlers. They ought to join the army and go to Afghanistan or Irag if they have the cajones so they can hunt the most dangerous predator of all (and one who shoots back.)

  5. Ryan Avatar

    Robert Bunch,

    So what your saying is there is no skill in training dogs, no skill in following them, no skill in tracking, etc? You seem to have no expirience with what you are talking about, care to prove me wrong or are you content to run your mouth.

  6. Tim Avatar

    Well said Ryan!

  7. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    I already did the Iraq thing, and yes the humans are a well versed as well as skilled opponent, but I still say a bear a deer an elk or a bear has far more skill than most humans, they shot at me, and I shot at them in the desert They lost and I lost as well, but I did “hunt” them if you want to call it that…don’t assume you know what hunters experience level is..there are quite a few of us, that did join the Army and did hunt the most dangerous predator of all….

    Unfortunately in this particular instance, I don’t feel the bear won, because if there is another situation that happens with this bear, she will probably loose, the bear was lucky and the hunters were lucky, but if something happens again, the humans may be lucky and the bear will loose…those of you that wish harm on fellow humans, are very scary people…I really hope I am never forced to shoot another human again in my life, the experience was not fun and the feelings will stay with you until the day you die…I will never forget it.

  8. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    I have a very hard time, thinking of some that post on these blogs as conservationists when they continue to advocate humans being injured or hurt…to me that is like trying to stop abortion by bombing clinics and killing people….

  9. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    It’s been decades since state and federal agencies automatically killed grizzly bears that defended themselves from people who (accidentally) encroached on a bear’s personal space, which forces the bruin to fight or flee. Perfectly normal grizzly bear behavior, and the agencies acknowledge that.

    With one notable exception–the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee’s cuckoo, irrational, moronic, demented, nonsensica,l you’ve got to be kidding bear spray propoganda–state and federal agencies usually give people realistic information about bears.

  10. Ken Cole Avatar

    Dave Smith,

    IDFG killed the bear that attacked the guy near Driggs a couple years ago. The bear was just eating a dead moose when the guy went outside to see why his dog was barking and he was attacked. The guy specifically said that he didn’t want the bear killed because he thought the bear was just doing what came natural to it and they killed it anyway. I’m just pointing that out as an exception to what you just said.

    I hope this recent incident is the beginning to a trend.

  11. Linda Hunter Avatar

    The hunters reported the incident, recognized that they had a grizzly and cubs, didn’t shoot the bears expect to scare them away and managed not to get killed. I would call that a huge improvement in hunter behavior compared to some of the reports we read and even though I am not a fan of hound hunting, it must be recognized that there was responsible behavior in the way they reacted and were able to tell, under-duress, that they didn’t have a black bear. I believe that it is easy to call someone dumb or irresponsible based on your personal philosophy but in this case the hunters deserve some credit.

  12. Layton Avatar

    “They ought to join the army and go to Afghanistan or Irag if they have the cajones so they can hunt the most dangerous predator of all (and one who shoots back.)”

    Ever been in that situation Robert?? Or is this just a lot of hot air generated by a bag of wind?? I think that if you had you wouldn’t be so quick to mouth off.

    So called “conservationalists” (are you one?) that root for the lives of animals over those of humans are a bane to the cause.

  13. Virginia Avatar

    I don’t see any posts here where anyone is rooting for the lives of animals over those of humans. Layton and Ryan – you guys are nuts! Most of the people who post on this blog ARE people who love and respect animals and don’t want to see them constantly harassed and killed. I think you two are outnumbered here.

  14. mikarooni Avatar


  15. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    I would say that we are outnumbered here, that is a given, of course I will say I have read quite a number of threads that do put wildlife over humans and don’t seem to want to find a balance between the two, and I base this statement on my time working with Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks and the fact I would not play their game anymore than I will the zealots that claim to be “Conservationists”

  16. Virginia Avatar

    Save bears – what is the game that you would not play while working with Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks? Just curious. And, I wonder where you put the value of the life of wildlife. Also, do you claim to be a “non-Conservationist?” Labels can be a very negative thing; we all know how the “republicans/conservatives” denigrated the term “liberal” for many years. Look in the dictionary for “conservation” and “liberal.”

  17. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Ralph, we can only hope people will be enlightened about wolves the way you said. We will know we are making progress when the word Canadian wolf is not a part of the vocabulary.

  18. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Virginia, I have more than once posied information on this blog about my trials and tribulations while working with MFWP, But I was asked and ordered to come up with a study that stated that wolves can transmit brucellosis to cows and livestock…my data didn’t show that so I refused to publish, hence I am no longer with the department…and now and a disgraced biologist..

    As a biologist, no, I am not a non-conservationist, I am a realist, and understand the forces in play in this game of chess…as I am neither a liberal/conservative but a realist, I will stick to what I believe and have learned over the years..

    After my years of playing the political game while in the military, I am very familiar with the terms “Liberal” and “Conservative” so probably will pass on “Looking” them up in the dictionary…

  19. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Also Virginia, I put great value on wildlife, I forgot to mention that in my last post..

  20. Robert Bunch Avatar
    Robert Bunch

    Layton, Ryan, Save bears etc.

    I think if you are going to hunt it ought to be fair. Having hounds to run them down and high powered rifles to shoot from a distance is nothing more than a shooting gallery. Why don’t you just turn the hounds lose chase the animal, run it up a tree or whatever then pull out a long lens and take a picture instead of making your kill. I didn’t advocate in my post for any harm to come to the Klinglers but lets face it their carelessness and eagerness to make their kill is what got them into this mess. And Save bears and Layton where in my post did I advocate harm on fellow humans? All I said is if your so hot to kill put it to use at war. Oh yeah, Layton I think you’re the bag of wind around here. When and where did you serve? I was in Vietnam Feb. ’69 to Feb ’70 Echo battery 41st Arty on quad 50’s which is four .50 cal. machine guns mounted on a revolving turret placed in the bed of a deuce and a half truck. Save bears you say people like me want to put wildlife over people instead of a a balance between people and wildlife. Man give me a break!! There is no balance, people win out everytime over wildlife. If I advocate for wildlife over hunters it’s because the way I see it the wildlife is getting the shaft every time. It really steams me that so called hunters like the Klinglers with their carelessness and arrogance put the lives of a sow with three cubs at risk. What happens to those cubs if momma gets shot by a careless hunter. By the way there are 6 billion humans and maybe a 100,000 grizzlies in the world. So I value grizzlies highly they are RARE! and I make no apologies for my feelings to you. Oh yeah have you ever hunted with a bow and arrow or went after a big elk with a couple of your buddies and some nice sharp spears. Sorry thats the only real hunting to me. I await your reply!

  21. Mike Avatar

    Great news. Glad to see these bears still roaming the Yellowstone ecosystem.

  22. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Thanks Mike,

    That’s the tone I tried when I made my first comment on this.

  23. Nathan Avatar

    “Why don’t you just turn the hounds lose chase the animal, run it up a tree or whatever then pull out a long lens and take a picture instead of making your kill.”

    I have more objections to that practice than I do to a controlled state regulated hunt, so many think wild animals are nothing but a toy to be played with and as long as you do not directly physically harm you can do as you wish.

    Behavior such as what you describe for the sake of a photo causes huge stress on the animal and goes against the ideas of true nature photography…to be an observer of the world, not a manipulator.

    So as someone who has spent a lot of time behind the lens, I have to object to that. I purchased large telephoto lenses and equipment to observe wildlife such that my impact on them is minimal and I can share there natural behavior with others.

  24. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    I do hunt with a bow and arrow, have for many years now..

  25. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    And to add, at no time did I say I endorsed hunting with hounds and I don’t hunt bears anymore either, but when I did, it was not with hounds and it was not over bait.

  26. Robert Bunch Avatar
    Robert Bunch


    I do not condone or encourage treeing or harassing of animals just to get a picture. I only offered the camera suggestion as an alternative to hunting and killing with a gun which seems to me a heckuva lot more stressful to the animals since its gonna make them dead. I also use long lenses when I photograph wildlife and I almost always do it in parks like Yellowstone where the animals are used to people and unbothered by the proximity of humans.

  27. Ryan Avatar


    In all of my years of hunting, I have never been in a shooting gallery situation with big game. BTW I hunt with a Bow now, but it seems no less challenging than rifle hunting to me. The same effort is expended scouting, hiking, stalking, and post harvest as with a bow, the only difference is that the harvest itself is a little easier.

  28. Alan Avatar

    “Harvest” is an interesting word, isn’t it? It sounds so much more civilized than “kill”. Wolves “kill” an elk, a hunter “harvests” one. The dictionary describes “harvest” as “the act of gathering a crop or the crop thus gathered”; “crop” is described as, “Cultivated plants or agricultural produce”. Thus the term, though widely used, is inaccurate unless the hunter planted and cultivated the animal.
    I’m not a hunter myself, nor do I eat much meat (a little chicken and fish), but I do not object to someone putting meat in their freezer hunting. I do object to unethical hunting, which I would describe as “sport” hunting, trophy hunting, hound hunting, baiting; even “hounding” an animal for a photograph. (As a photographer, my basic policy is: If an animal wanders over a hill or a bird flies to a new perch, I may follow it; but if it does it a second time, I’m done.) I also feel that Spring hunting of any animal should be illegal because of the offspring issue. Taking any bear with cubs at any time should also be illegal. If a hunter does not have common humanity, it should be regulated on him (her).
    It is always so nice to see a story like this. No person was seriously injured (or killed); no bear was killed (or left seriously wounded to wander off and suffer for days or weeks before dying), and officials are actually acknowledging that it wasn’t the bear’s fault!! A really good end to this story would be if Idaho were to re-examine their hunting laws and outlaw the barbaric practice of hound hunting, as well as Spring bear hunting. Then I might go out and get a good tofu steak!!

  29. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    Are you against the spring hunting of turkeys? I love hunting turkeys in the spring with decoys, and it presents no harm to the offspring as they are not born for quite a while…

    (I know I am being a smart ass!) But could not resist! LOL

    By the way, if I remember correctly, it is illegal in all hunting areas in the US that have bears to kill a sow with cubs…as it is illegal to take a lion with kittens…enjoy that tofu, we are having BBQ elk burgers today, hm, hm good!

  30. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I don’t like the word “harvest” used for anything other than seasonal agriculture.

    There seems to be a creeping use of this word. For example, “the organs of the brain dead accident victim were harvested.”

    That gives me the creeps.

    Or, “we need to harvest the minerals in the mountain.”

    No, “harvest” refers to things the regularly grow back, and minerals don’t in a human time frame.

  31. Virginia Avatar

    Alan – I appreciate what you wrote – it is just how I feel. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

  32. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    I would add as well, harvest is not the proper word to describe killing, I didn’t harvest enemy combatants when I was in Iraq, I killed them..I don’t harvest deer and elk, I kill them when I am hunting..

  33. Ryan Avatar

    Interesting post, I chose the word harvest as it is less offensive. As for spring hunts they are all regulated to ensure that no animals are orphaned. Turkey hunts are Males only bear hunts all specifically state no sows with cubs. I personally much prefer a spring bear to a fall bear as the meat is much leaner in the spring. Cougar is also w very tasty meat, although a little chewey it tastes like lean Pork. I’ve killed a few bears over the years, and didn’t need dogs or bait for it. For responisble cougar harvest though, hounds should be used. Most cats not killed with dogs are taken incedentally in split second decisions that make no dicrimination as sex, age, etc. Dogs allow for time to judge the animal and make the determinations.. Don’t kid yourself, alot of work goes into running hounds and chasing cats.


    “which I would describe as “sport” hunting, trophy hunting,”

    Can you expand on this, I hunt for both meat and sport. I purposely hunt big bucks, bulls, and boars with the goal of getting a trophy but I also eat all of the meat. I’ve taken does, Cows, and sows as well. Does that make me unethical in your eyes? In this modern era, very little meat goes to waste whether it be eaten by the hunter, donated to food banks and homless shelters, or given to the local indegenous peoples.

  34. Griz Avatar

    Great to hear the sow is alive and well. Too often these days the story would end tragically for the grizzly and her cubs

  35. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    State fish and game departments “manage” wildlife with hunting seasons based on the assumption that deer, pheasant, fish, and other critters are a crop that can and should be “harvested” annually. This is wildlife biology 101.

    When Yellowstone area grizzly bears were in the process of being de-listed, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming bear management plans made it clear they wanted to limit or (in the case of Wyoming) reduce grizzly bear populations by “harvesting” grizzlies with legal hunting seasons.

    Evidently, ID, MT, and WY forgot this their mismanagement of grizzly bear harvests in the 1960s and early 1970s lead to grizzlies being listed as a threatened species in 1975.

  36. JB Avatar

    The term “harvest” has been used for a very long time. Remember, it was everyone’s favorite conservationist (Aldo Leopold) who defined game management as: “the art of making land produce sustained annual crops of wild game for recreational use.” When wildlife is considered a “crop,” the term “harvest” simply completes the analogy to agriculture.

  37. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.

    Another usage of the word “Harvest” could be used in this way:

    “While hunting bears with hounds wearing GPS collars, the “hunters” sat in the warm cab of their pick up truck and “harvested” numerous cans of Budweiser.

  38. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    I always love how these types of thread degenerate into nothingness, good analogy Jeff! No wonder nobody can get anywhere on these issues!

  39. Ryan Avatar

    Jeff N.

    Another usage of the word “harvest” could be..

    “the know it all “enlightened folks” discussed items they had no knowledge about while they harvested their cannibis plants and discussed the evils plans put of by the goverment while ridiculing right wingers for their tin foil hat theories”

  40. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.

    Nice one Ryan…….See, now we’re having a little fun. Also, many thanks to Save Bears for enjoying my analogy.

  41. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    You are right about how the term “harvest” got applied to hunting and the purpose it serves.

    We all need to be aware of political and social function of value laden words used by business and governments in what are supposed to be value neutral activities.

    A favorite of mine is Department of Natural Resources, which sometimes includes agriculture as well as hunting and mining. It implies that all these these are simply factors of production.

    Worse is a Department of Human Resources. This implies that people too are like trees, iron ore, corn, hog bellies, etc. . . . put them altogether to produce maximum economic output. When the resources are used up, dispose of them.

  42. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    I always love how these types of thread degenerate into nothingness, good analogy Jeff! No wonder nobody can get anywhere on these issues!

    Good point, let’s stay on topic here.

  43. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    I agree 100% that is why I posted it to begin with…unfortunately, I don’t think it is possible..issues start out the conversation, then emotion and anger take over, and they all end up in the same place…..

  44. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    Do fool yourself, I didn’t enjoy it, but I did expect it…people are becoming very predictable on this blog! What is so sad, nobody every comes to a conclusion, the new threads keep starting and the exact same outcome continues to happen…

  45. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    That was “Don’t fool yourself”

  46. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Exactly why legislatures don’t always get as much done as they should.

  47. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    I agree 1000% the legislatures don’t get a damn thing done, what is so sad…… we elected them!!!!!

  48. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Amen to that.

  49. Ryan Avatar

    Sometimes it seems that commenting on this blog and others is like trying to excrete a stream of lower extremity fluid vertically up a twisted limp object used for tethering a dead horse.

  50. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.

    Save Bears,

    You are correct, some posters are very predictable. In fact there is one who constantly reminds us that he/she used to work for MFWP and is now a disgraced biologist.

    And BTW I realize you didn’t “enjoy” my analogy.

    Settle down SB. Just having a little fun with the word harvest and applying it to a stereotype. Shame on me.

  51. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    And there are several, on this blog Jeff N. that other than emotion, they really don’t know a darn thing about wildlife management..I already stated that “Harvest” was not the right word to describe killing, but yet, you keep coming back to that debate don’t you?

    Of course, I have never seen anyone get tired of Ralph’s degrees on this blog? care to explain why?

  52. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    And yes, Shame on you! These are serious issues that deserve serious discussion, which some here don’t seem to realize, you included..

  53. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    And, there are some here that I do respect, I don’t have to agree with them, but I do respect their action, namely those involved with WWP, they are a group that believes in what they are doing, and they back it up, I don’t always agree with their stance, but I respect their actions…

  54. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    Save Bears–we can verify Ralph’s degrees and credentials, but we have to take your word for it about your degree and your employment with a state wildlife agency, etc. I don’t give your comments more credence than other posters just because of unsubstantiated claims about your education and employment. I go by the facts you present, and your logic–or the absence of facts and logic, as the case may be.

  55. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.


    Get over yourself. You have absolutely no idea about my level of involvement regarding environmental issues.

    And just how does someone get “tired of Ralph’s degrees”? Can you explain what you mean.

    Lastly, you are guilty of both things you accuse me of being……predictable and emotional. My intent was not to get into a personal pissing match with you SB. In fact my original comment wasn’t directed at you or your use of the word “harvest”. As I stated before I was just having fun with the word harvest and applying it to a stereotype.

    Lighten up and get over it and yourself.

  56. Layton Avatar

    Robert — still waiting.

    USN – ‘nam Sept. 1969– Aug. 1971, “Brownwater Navy” Cat Lo/Nha Be — Uncle Sam’s Jet Boats and a bit of time on a “Mike” boat.

    I only hunt with archery equipment, for about 25 years now. I also compete in archery events in order to develop/maintain my skills to ensure that any “harvests” or “kills” (use whichever word you prefer) that I make are quick.

    Any other questions??

  57. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Glad you chimed in Mr. Smith…Thanks for your contribution..

  58. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Now of course how do we verify your credibility? that pocket book you wrote, that is endorsed by a person who advocates getting close to bears, in which you state you have got close to bears more than once? How do we verify your credibility?

  59. Robert Bunch Avatar
    Robert Bunch

    I believe I made a distinction between hunting with firearms and bow hunting or spear hunting. I commend you for being a bow hunter but that doesn’t change my opinion of hunting with rifles, dogs, bait etc. All these things do is make it EASIER for the hunter to get a kill and certainly doesn’t add to the challenge of a successful hunt. Personally I don’t care to hunt at all except with a camera but I know some people like it and didn’t say a thing about banning all hunting either. So I commented negatively about some guys that damn near killed a sow with 3 cubs in a spring hunt using dogs and firearms one of whom nearly got his own ass chewed off and you got pretty bent. I guess some of you hunters are a bit touchy to criticism from non-hunters. Seems to me that responsible hunters like you claim to be, and I take your word that you are, would frown on this kind of foolishness as well since it sure doesn’t help your cause with the non-hunters. Whatever I stand by everything I said!

  60. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    from the minutes of the Yellowstone grizzly bear coordinating committee, nov. 2008

    Lawsuit Update – Chris Servheen
    1. Western Watersheds Projects, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Center for Biological Diversity, Great Bear Foundation and Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance has filed a lawsuit to try to return the bears to the endangered species list. The suit was filed in Federal Court in Idaho (Judge Lodge). NRDC is taking the lead in the suit. The briefings are completed however no hearings have been scheduled at this time.
    2. GYC has filed a suit to try to return the grizzly bear to the endangered species list. The suit was filed in Federal court in Montana (Judge Malloy). This case has many of the same points as the NRDC case. The desire was to combine the cases but the Judge Malloy decided to retain jurisdiction. There is a hearing scheduled January 2009.
    3. Robert Aland in Illinois filed a similar case as the two mentioned above. The judge agreed that the case should be heard by one judge in Idaho. The briefings have been completed however no hearings have been scheduled at this time

  61. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    The Missoulian had an article about closed door talks being held today and Friday about Settlement of the lawsuits..

  62. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    save bears–what’s the title of the “pocket book.”

  63. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    save bears– doesn’t distinguish between books and pocket books, but I found a listing for a book called Backcountry Bear Basics by Dave Smith. Larry Aumiller, longtime manager of Alaska’s McNeil River Sanctuary for brown bears, wrote an endorsement for the 1st ed. (1997) that said the book was “entertaining and accurate. Dave Smith dissects myth from reality as he draws not only from his own experiences and observations, but from North America’s best bear experts as well.”

    BYU Professor Tom S. Smith wrote an endorsement for the 2nd ed. (2006) that said, “Dave Smith’s extensive first-hand experience, keen insight, and humor make Backcountry Bear Basics a must-read book.”

    Lance Craighead, Ph.D wildlife biologist, wrote an endorsement that said Backcountry Bear Basics was the “best guide to understanding [bears] that I have seen.”

    Biologist Chris Morgan with the Grizzly Bear Outreach Project wrote an endorsement that said Smith’s “pocket guide” is “a superb source of information for anyone who wants to stay safe, and do right by bears.”

    Save bears–Are you worried about the credentials of Dave Smith who wrote the 156 page “pocket guide” Backcountry Bear Basics?

    Please, please, please fill us in on your concerns about the book. It would be really helpful if you’d provide quotes from the book on specific issues, and then, given that you’re a wildlife biologist, express your concerns about those issues.

    Nothing like an open, honest discussion to clear the air.

  64. Pronghorn Avatar

    In response to grdnrmt’s post– I saw this item in today’s paper also. Three orphaned cubs going to a Memphis zoo where they’ll have a display area “larger than 1 acre” and all because of a hiker venturing into bear habitat with a gun instead of smarts and bear spray. We’ll undoubtedly see more of this when the weapons in nat’l parks fiasco goes into effect.

  65. Ryan Avatar

    Here comes another bear spray debate.

    I’m sure this will draw the irk of some, but if there was a limited hunting season that reinstalled some of the Grizzly bears natural fear of man many of these unfortunate attacks could be avoided.

  66. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    The guy who shot and killed the griz was a retired cop. He was severely injured, but obviously, practice and training pays off. Few people could kill a charging grizzly with a pistol. Skill matters.

    Would he have been better off using bear spray? Possibly. But after years of practicing with a pistol–thousands and thousands of repetitions–who knows how he’d have done with bear spray? If he had bear spray, not his pistol, he might have bungled getting the safety flap off his bear spray and never had a chance to use it.

    I know, I know, you can fire bear spray from the hip without removing it from the holster. Which would take practice. Lots and lots of practice.

    I’m sure every card carrying member of the bear spray cult practices this maneuver 100 times a day.

  67. Ken Cole Avatar

    Here we go again.

  68. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    Ryan–If grizzlies have a “natural” fear of man, why do you have to hunt them to instill that fear?

  69. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    Ken Cole–“here we go again”

    Yep, Every time a fanatical member of the bear spray cult speaks, it’s as bad as Mormans knocking on your door, or listening to a TV evangalist. Where do these people come from, and why are they so self-righteous?

  70. Linda Hunter Avatar

    Could someone explain to me how hunting animals instills fear of man? What is it exactly in the hunting process that makes animals afraid of humans? Anyone with a logical questioning mind would wonder if an animal is killed by a gun how do and when do the other animals understand this? This statement made in so many ways that if we stop hunting bears they will lose their fear of man has always made me wonder how when something is stated so often it becomes fact. But I want to know what the statement is based on. Has someone done a study with some bears being hunted and some not? When was it done and under what conditions?

  71. Ryan Avatar

    Maybe its an unnatural fear of man. Linda, while I don’t know of any studies off hand there seems to be a direct correlation between negative human encounters and whether or the hunting pressure on a said species. Coyotes in rural area where they are shot at onsite in many cases run when a car stops where as coyotes in suburban areas are happy to chase joggers and kill pets in parks with people present. It seems from ancedotal evidence bear attacks are much more likely in areas where bear hunting is not a factor. Look at the GYE, Greater anchorage city limits, russian river in AK etc contrast that with other areas (granted there are more people in those areas) but there are statistically less attacks.
    If we all just carried bear spray, none of this would ever happen :). Some say there might even be peace in the middle east if they just used Bear spray instead of bomds and bullets.

  72. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    ryan–How do you account for the fact that generations of black bears have grown up in the friendly confines of Yellowstone NP, where they are not hunted, yet they’re not often seen, and rarely have conflicts with people. Meanwhile, black bear-human conflicts are common all over the West where the bruins are hunted.

    Not nearly as many grizzly bear-human conflicts inside YNP as there are outside the park, where there’s been a defacto hunting season on grizzlies for a decade. Few conflicts in Glacier NP, never-ending conflicts outside Glacier.

  73. Ryan Avatar

    Most black bear human conflict occur at residences and in semi rural area, black bear attacks are pretty rare. Grizzly bear attacks are not as rare although statiscally you have a better chance of getting attacked and killed by bees. I like the defacto hunting season, lets see 5 get killed mistakenly by hunters the rest in “self defense” cases, that hardly constitutes a hunting season. I would guess most likely the issue is habituated bears that live in close proximity to humans.

  74. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    Ryan–there’s a difference between habituation and food conditioning, and I would guess that the primary reason we have so many bear-human conflicts outside the park is food conditioning. Which is caused by people. Hunting bears is not the solution to these conflicts. Shoot one food conditioned bear, and it will soon be replaced by another bear. You’ve got to do something about the people who are food conditioning bears.

    Hunting these people seems a bit harsh–maybe big $$$fines, or a public flogging. They are endangering their neighbors, and their neighbor’s children. There should be consequences.

  75. Pronghorn Avatar

    When wild animals come into OUR homes, or even just our neighborhoods, they are more often than not killed outright or captured and “destroyed.” Many humans, if not most, will say, “Fair enough. Bears don’t belong in human homes.” I’m suggesting, however, that we examine the belief that we can arm ourselves with guns and casually stroll into THEIR homes and blow them away for doing what wild animals do–in this case, protecting young. If this is the case, where, exactly, are wild animals safe?

    I am not a “fanatical member of the bear spray cult” and don’t even particularly see this as a bear spray issue. My original comment mentioned that we should be armed with “SMARTS and bear spray,” but the “smarts” part got lost in the rush to pontificate and label others. Guns in bear country undoubtedly trump bear spray, but they shouldn’t trump smarts…doing everything humanly possible to not have to fire–by knowing whose habitat we are entering and giving an animal fair warning of our presence. This requires a fundamental respect for the lives of wild animals.

    It could be that the injured man did everything he could in this instance–without knowing the details, he shouldn’t be condemned. But I do wonder how many people who otherwise would have stayed away will venture into wild country emboldened by the pistol they’re packing–with nary a “hey bear” on their lips.

  76. dave smith Avatar
    dave smith

    Pronghorn–We should be “armed with smarts and bear spray. How many people who otherwise would have stayed away will venture into wild country emboldened by the pistol they’re packing?”

    I dunno. The same number of people who venture into wild country emboldened by the bear spray they’re packing?

    Allah is the one true god. Buddha is the one true god. Bear spray is the one true self-defense tool. Jesus is the one true god. True believers all.

  77. Alan Avatar

    The “smarts” part is the most important thing. All too often when folks pack the gun, or the bear spray, the “smarts” get left in the trunk. No one should be “emboldened” by anything they carry. Nothing is 100 percent effective; but “smarts” can go a long way toward avoiding an encounter in the first place.
    Most of the time, I carry nothing. But by God I’ve got my eyes and ears open, keep a spotless camp and make plenty of noise when I can’t see over the next rise or in the deep timber, especially if I’m off trail. In over forty years of hiking, camping and backpacking in bear country I have never had a problem
    I think the difference between coyotes and bears is that bears are mostly solitary. If the only bear that witnesses the hunt is the one that gets killed, nothing is learned. Nothing is passed on. At least a bear that gets a face full of spray (no, I’m not trying to pick a fight!!) might “remember” the bad experience. The same might be true of other, non fatal, unpleasant encounters.
    If we, as a society, have decided that grizzly bears are worth preserving in the GYE, then we have to use common sense, not just guns and bear spray.

  78. Linda Hunter Avatar

    Too bad they don’t sell common sense in pill form.

  79. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Linda, I think people would forget their medication even if it was in pill form unless you made it into a chewable thing like a kid’s vitamin. What would happen if people overdosed? Too smart for their own good? 😉

  80. Alan Avatar

    “What would happen if people overdosed? Too smart for their own good?”
    Then would you end up with a Tim Treadwell or Jim Cole?

  81. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Alan wrote, “If the only bear that witnesses the hunt is the one that gets killed, nothing is learned. Nothing is passed on. At least a bear that gets a face full of spray (no, I’m not trying to pick a fight!!) might “remember” the bad experience. The same might be true of other, non fatal, unpleasant encounters.”

    I’ve always thought this is the definitive answer when it comes to teaching a bear, or any solitary animal, to stay away from people. RM

  82. Linda Hunter Avatar

    Ralph . . ah we had this bear we named Bevis who thought he was a member of the staff at the lodge we worked at in Alaska. he would stay ten feet from the boardwalks in the thick brush where we couldn’t see him and because we let him be so close he thought he could just do what he wanted. As bears are smell oriented instead of sight oriented, he thought we knew he was there and accepted him. . we knew it, but only because we saw his tracks. One day he decided he didn’t need to stay hidden and started licking the windows on the lodge. . maybe he liked vinegar but he also decided to sleep right in front of the outhouses. The guides tried to move him peaceably away so our guests could use the bathrooms but he just rolled on his back and spread his legs so we could see for sure he was a boy.
    Finally, because not all of our guests understood a bear wanting to be a pet dog, we had to discipline him with pepper spray. It took one time. Although he hung around for the rest of the summer, he looked to us to learn his guidelines and then stayed out of sight of the guests. I do, however, understand about pepper spray being not an answer but a problem in the wrong hands. I have seen new guides running down a path spraying a retreating bear from behind and yelling yet there are hundreds of people who live and work around bears who understand the way a bear’s body language works who use pepper spray very very rarely and then only to back up a statement already made in body language. It would be a dream if we could educate millions of people how to pay attention to the needs of animals which animals think they clearly communicate to us. . . but we are stuck in language and language is a definite barrier to communication.


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

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Ken Cole