Reports show one dead after bear mauling at Cooke City campground. Reports  are still sketchy of a

Update on attack. Bear attack leaves one dead near Yellowstone. By Laura Zuckerman. Reuters

Update no 2. (July 29). Male dies in bear attack at campground near Yellowstone. By Brett French. Billings Gazette.
It is still not clear if this was a black bear or grizzly attack and if more than one bear.  The tents appear not to have had bear attractants.

Update  no. 3 (July 29). Grizzly bear and cubs captured after fatal campground attack near Yellowstone. LA Times.

Update no. 4 (August 2). Montana grizzly attack cubs malnourished. Matt Brown. Associated Press.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

319 Responses to Bear mauling. One said to be dead, 2 injured at Cooke City campground

  1. jon says:

    Few bear attacks in recent months Ralph. What do you think is causing this?

    • minou says:

      Could it be that researchers are making bad bears? The old saying goes, “A fed bear is a dead bear,” and that is what the researchers are doing—- feeding them so to snare them, then harassing them by drugging them, pulling their teeth, and then collaring them.

    • Mike says:

      OMG. I’ve stayed there mulitple and it always spooked me out. It seems to be in a perfect convergence of the Absarokas and Beartooths.

      Here is a complete information page for Soda Butte campground with photos and maps:

    • Elk275 says:


      In the years gone by I have camped there many times; it has never bothered me or have I ever though about bears.

      I clearly remember camping there in August of 1959 with my father and brother and being awake in the middle of the night with the truck shaking. We were sleeping in our 1951 GMC “Jimmy”. The shaking stopped and my father said a bear had been shaking the truck. We stopped for gas in Red Lodge the next afternoon and the station attendant said that there had been a earthquake in West Yellowstone.

    • jon says:

      Elk, would you think twice about camping now after this bear attack?

    • Save bears says:

      I am not Elk,

      But I would not give it a second thought..

    • jon says:

      sb, do you have any idea if these bears involved in the attacks were collared at all?

    • Save bears says:


      No I don’t, I have stayed in that campground one time in my life, but I am not familiar with the bears in the area, or the management activities that go on in that area, I would suspect if they were, it will be reported…

    • STG says:

      Minou–I totally agree with what you are saying!

  2. Save bears says:

    With the increased number of bears, the increased number of people in the woods and the really odd winter, creating a change in their normal food patterns, it has set up more encounters.

    • jon says:

      sb, have you heard anything about the bear that charged Jack Hanna? Any idea from your contacts if they will put the bear down?

    • Save bears says:

      Talked to the bear biologist in Glacier this morning, there are no plans to put any of the bears down that were deterred by bear spray this last weekend, there were several situations that happened this last weekend that has no garnered the headlines that Jack’s has, if I remember correctly, they said they had 5 separate incidents this weekend, in which bear spray was deployed..but no plans to put any bears down..

  3. Cindy says:

    Any word on the bear attackat Soda Butte Campground??

  4. Cindy says:

    Sorry – typing too fast, I now see the heading on this page:)

  5. jburnham says:

    This is the same campground where a man was bitten by a grizzly in his tent in 2008. It was reported then that he had no attractants in his tent. I seem to remember a fairly recent bear incident at nearby Chief Joseph as well. Anybody else?

    My experience with these campgrounds outside of Cooke (and most of Montana) is that the fire rings are often full of trash, foil and food waste. Conscientious campers still have to worry about the slobs that came before them.

    • Save bears says:

      Unfortunately, it is all to often in many of the campgrounds in Wyoming and Montana, that the previous campers leave trash and attractants around, this is what happened with the Black Bear Incident around Lolo earlier this year, resulting in the bear being killed after injuring a camper.

      The question was asked yesterday, what is the most dangerous animal in Montana? and Salle said, Humans, which is correct, make sure and police your campground when coming in and going out and if there is trash when you arrive make damn sure you are on alert to bears or signs of bears….the life you save could be your own….if your uncomfortable, make sure you report it to the local rangers in the area and find someplace else to camp…

  6. Robert Hoskins says:

    In addition to SB’s assessment above, I would add that bear numbers are increasing while bear habitat is not. The decline of whitebark pine in the Yellowstone Country due to mountain pine beetle infestation is a kind of habitat diminution. More bears but less food. Thus, I l think we are seeing a kind of “pressure cooker” effect on the existing bear population.

    I’m paying close attention to the details of this attack.


    • pointswest says:

      There was very unusual weather in the area this winter. I was following the snowpack info all winter. By April, snowpack in some drainages were below 40% of normal and I read reports that bears were emerging from dens. Then it started snowing and raining in May and June and this brought snowpack back up to near normal.

      This very unusual weather was probably a shock on many plants and animals. Cetain “crops” probably failed and since the bears emerged early, they were probably in need of additional food this year.

      It may be that bears are simply getting very hungry about now since they have been out of the den for so long and there is not the food that there should be.

    • pointswest says:

      This might be a great year for animal rights advocates to go camping in grizzly country and to prove that bears, if treated properly, will not attack humans.

    • jon says:

      I don’t recall anyone on here stating that bears don’t attack people. Just because we are human, does not make us exempt from being attacked by WILD UNPREDICTABLE animals. A bear does not care if we are human or not.

    • pointswest says:


    • jon says:

      I think Salle put it best, he just pointswest, but doesn’t actually go there.

    • pointswest says:

      …but Salle’s childish comment making fun of my name was completely off base because I have lived in the West my entire life and grew up within 15 miles of Yellowstone. I have lived, camped, skiied, hunted, hiked, fished, visited, read, studied more points in the West than almost anyone on this blog! So there!

  7. jon says:

    sb, I am not familiar with Montana’s rules, but what exactly happens to the people who get caught for leaving trash or not cleaning up after themselves? Are they fined? What exactly is there to stop people from leaving trash? I don’t see how anyone can enforce this. Some could care less about small fines.

    • Save bears says:

      As far as I know all states have rules against littering and in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, it can be cumulative fines, I know when I have been camping we normally get at least one, if not two or three visits a day in the National Forest Campgrounds as well as state Campgrounds and I have had my information recorded, License plate number, etc.

      When I was with FWP, they recorded information not for just fun, the LE officers recorded it, just in case something happened, they would be able to notify next of kin..

      If you create an unsafe situation in a campground, besides being fined, I know there are some time jail sentences involved for negligence…

    • Elk275 says:


      It can not be enforced, there are not enough rangers to enforce anything– the country is huge. In Forest Service campgrounds it would be up to the Forest Service Law Enforcement to check campgrounds and there are very few of them. Large popular campgrounds sometimes have a campground host who do police compliance, fees, litter, lights out and noise. If campers burn waste food after dark, sometime later the fire is going to go out. By 9:00 A.M. the camper has left and what was unburned food now would be unrecognizable ash, but it is still a bear attractant. The second thing is that there are more bears both black and grizzly and I am seeing them every time, I am in the mountains now

      The game wardens are state fish and wildlife employees and they would not be enforcing federal campground compliance. If campgrounds had no bear attractants then it would not be a campground. Campers are going to grill and cook outside that is a bear attractant. When I was little and we were camping and camping in the Soda Butte campground bears would always show up around 6 to 7 P.M. Even if all bear attractants are stowed in a hard side camper or truck, food orders still linger.

    • Elk275 says:

      I guess Save Bears has had a different experience. The last I camped this year, was the May Creek Campgound between Wisdom and Lost Trail Pass, there was no one around in mid May

    • Save bears says:


      I think difference experiences are to be expected based on location, time of year and the amount of temp personal in the field..that is not saying either one of us are wrong or right, just different experiences is all..

    • Elk275 says:

      I would be aware, but I would camp there this weekend, but it is my 40th high school reunion so I won’t be there.

      I have never carried a gun before unless I was hunting. I am now carring a my .41 everytime I am in the forest. I am trying to find some heavy .41 Buffalo Bore 235 grain bullets or 235 Cor Bonds, they are very difficult to find.

    • jon says:

      I think protecting yourself is the only way to go. When it comes to bears, bear spray is the best. As Jack Hanna said, using the bear spray is the best thing because the bear lives (in most cases) and so does the person that it attacks.

    • Elk275 says:


      Tell me how bear spray would work in a tent while the bear was mauling you. When I fishing guided in Alaska in the mid 80’s the guides spent the night on the river and the clients were flownin in the morning. The guides would sleep with their 44’s in a shoulder hoster and their heavy rifles next to them.

      I do know this much, if one shot a .41 or .44 in a nylon tent at a bear on the outside, they would be hearing inpaired rest of there lifes. If one sprayed bear from the tent and it drifted back in the tent, one’s lungs would be inpaired for life. It is a lose — lose situation anyway you look at it.

    • jon says:

      I don’t believe it would be that effective to use bear spray if a bear was mauling you inside your tent, but how many bear attacks happen inside a tent elk? Personally, if I was in a situation where a bear was attacking and trying to maul me inside a tent, I would personally reach for the bear spray. Most other times, bear spray has been said to be the most effective weapon against bears. I am sure sb will agree that bear spray is the most effective weapon against bears. I would like to get his opinion on what is best to use against a bear that is attacking you while you are in your tent.

    • jon says:

      Whether or not it’s effective in a situation like that elk, I would still take my chances with the bear spray even though I have doubts about how effective it would be against a bear trying to maul you in your tent. Some would react differently and reach for the gun, but if there is another way to keep myself and both the bear alive and bear spray was that way to do it, I will be all for it. Some prefer guns, others prefer bear spray no matter what the situation is. If you want to use a gun to kill a meal that tries to maul you in your own tent, that’s how you feel.

    • jon says:

      To kill a bear is what I meant, not meal.

    • Save bears says:

      It depends, people have fended off bears while in the test with both spray and guns….I keep my spray handy in the tent, even knowing that I would be strongly effected if I had to use it, but I also keep a pistol with me as well.. Tents present special circumstances..

    • jon says:

      sb, what would you personally use if a bear was attempting you maul you inside your tent?

    • Elk275 says:


      From what I have read this attack occur in a tent late at night. Tents do present special problems.

      In 2006 a grizzly killed 2 people in there tent on the Knongakut River, Alaska. They had a 45-70 Marlin Guide Gun, which I have also. The investigation found the lever of the rifle open, this is all the couple couple could do before their death. A gun or pepper spray would have never worked. We all have a limited number of days dancing on earth. If I am doing what I love and it’s my time, then it’s my time — whats bothers me is when it my companion’s time and I happen to be with him/her.

    • Save bears says:


      I am a firm believer in bear spray, but I can tell in a tent situation late at night, I am going to use what ever I get my hands on first…

    • Daniel Berg says:


      Do you believe a .44 is effective against a Grizzly Bear? Up to this date I have not encountered a Grizzly in the wild but have heard a million different things about what would or wouldn’t be effective. I’ve mostly read/heard that spray is effective in most circumstances, but not all.

      I certainly wouldn’t fire bear spray inside of a tent. After watching videos of bear spray being shot, just the pure volume of spray that would be unleashed inside of that tent would have you running straight into the bear’s stomach just to escape the cloud.

      From a handgun perspective, I’ve heard that if you use to small of a gun, you run the risk of just making the bear more angry if you shoot at close range and making your situation worse. Some of these guys will swear that you’re wasting your time with any handgun short of a .50. What’s your opinion? This of course is all considering you could maintain a steady hand while being charged and/or mauled in a tent in the middle of the night!

    • Elk275 says:

      Last summer near Clark, Wyoming a retired Cleveland police officer after being attacked by a grizzly shot and kill the bear with 2 shots from a .41 mag. This was discussed on this forum at length. Some years ago a horn hunter in Tom Miner Basin north of Gardiner, Montana shot and kill a grizzly with a .41 mag. He was a convicted felon who got into big trouble for gun possession.

      Two or three years ago there were 7 or 8 grizzly bear attacks in Montana, these attacks were mostly bow hunters. In one of the attacks a bow hunter killed a grizzly in Tom Miner Basin with a .44. In Alaska grizzlies are killed every year with .41 and .44’s. The popular pistol now in Alaska is the 460 Ruger with a 4 inch barrel. My arms are not big enough to shoot a .500 S&W steady or accurately to be effective with it. I read about every year someone in Montana kills a grizzly with .44. The most important thing is the type and quality of bullet and bullet velocity. I have seen people buy 44/41 ammo and never pay any attention to the bullet, bullet weight or velocity. If you want more information then I would get on the Alaska Hunting forum, they have worn this subject out.

      I like my .41 Titanium Taurus, it weights 18 oz and has a 5 shoot mag; I hardly notice wearing it. Unfortunately it is ported and will damage hearing without ear protection. There is an Zimbabwe PH who has kill both cape buffalo and elephant with a .41. I carry it more for moose than bears — I am scare of moose.

      The best and first defense against a bear on the trail would be pepper spray. But pepper spray like a pistol takes practice. Yellowstone National Park does have pepper spray practice with there employees. A $50 a can pepper spray is expensive practice. My cousin floats the Cooper River in Alaska 4 or 5 times during the summer and carries a 12 gauge shot with rifle slugs.

    • Daniel Berg says:

      Elk275 –

      Thanks for the info. I would always use spray as a first line of defense except in a scenario where you are trapped in an enclosed space that doesn’t provide a barrier (like a tent). I watched the instructional videos on bear mace a long time ago, but haven’t had the heart to watch $50 in liquid pepper spray out of a can just for practice. I should just bite the bullet and shoot off a can.

    • Save bears says:


      No need to spray the real thing, both UDAP and Counter Assault offer inert training cans for less than $10, it is a good way to get a feel for what is going to actually happen when you fire a can

    • Elk275 says:

      Save Bears

      That is really good information to know. I think I will buy a $10 can and try it.

    • Elk 275 – just a correction, that fatal predatory bear incident (involving the retired attorney from Anchorage & wife) in 2006 was on the Hula Hula river – not the Kongakut

  8. Cody Coyote says:

    From what little has been reported so far, this sounds much more likely a Black Bear incident , not Grizzly.

  9. inthefurwest says:

    am i reading the AP article right that OTHER tents were smashed or was it just the single tent ?? i am kinda with cody on this one, pretty tough to call it a grizzly attack for sure with such limited information, of coarse most will jump to that conclusion after the previous attack by the young female and after the incident above cody.
    i know several friends of mine that had planned to camp their during the bone daddy bike run last weekend (or the weekend before) and had talked themselves out of it preferring to be closer to the night life.

    • jdubya says:

      So what are the odds of getting shot up at a Wyoming bar, or get hit by a drunk driver on a dark highway versus getting mauled by a bear at 4am while you are snoring….shut up damn it, you are waking up the forest!

    • Elk275 says:

      Or hitting a deer on your Harley at night. Yesterday, a deer tried to jump over a Harley on the Going to the Sun Highway in Glacier National Park. The biker wrecked his bike and ended up in the ditch.

  10. Cindy says: of campground

    This CNN link is under the US News – West. It’s a slightly updated article, saying 3 separate camp groups, the gentleman that was killed had been drug to the western edge of campground. One person who was hurt drove to the Cody hospital, the women rode in an ambulance.
    I’m going to go home tonight and kiss our little RV that we take to Pebble Creek every Fall for wildlife watching. My prayers go out to those effected. For those of us that live in this area, we always are hopeful our visitors have a safe and rewarding visit. This one was sure costly for many.

  11. Cindy says:

    Link I sent didn’t work great, hit HOME on the top and it will take you to the article.

  12. I have posted an update on the bear story

  13. Cody Coyote says:

    We should hope there are no other bear incidents in the east Yellowstone region for a couple days, because every bear wrangler from Bozeman to Cody , and six culvert traps , have been dispatched to Cooke City today , which is far from anywhere else on Earth and Montana , in hopes of trapping the bear tonight.

    On a lighter note concerning bear incidents, there is a hilarious story in last weekend’s Denver Post. ( Try searching for ” Bear rolls off in car in Larkspur ” at ) Kid comes home after midnight and leaves a peanut butter sandwich on the front seat . A bear gets in the car, cannot unlock the door , and kicks the car out f gear and it rolls merrily down the hill , backwards. The neighbors hear a huge ruckus at 3 AM and finally go see what it is, and this bear is going plumb berserk in the front seat . The bear totalled the car, even setting off the airbags ( !?!?!?!? ) The deputies who responded at 4 AM described it as one of those …” Oh my god” callouts.

    The photo says it all. ( And not all bears are bad news when they mix it up with people. )


    Larkspur is a foothill town a short ways north of the Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs
    – this link may not work because it is a search result.

  14. Cody Coyote says:

    We should hope there are no other bear incidents in the east Yellowstone region for a couple days, because every bear wrangler from Bozeman to Cody , and six culvert traps , have been dispatched to Cooke City today , which is far from anywhere else on Earth and Montana , in hopes of trapping the bear tonight.

    On a lighter note concerning bear incidents, there is a hilarious story in last weekend’s Denver Post. ( Try searching for ” Bear rolls off in car in Larkspur ” at ) Kid comes home after midnight and leaves a peanut butter sandwich on the front seat . A bear gets in the car, has his midnight snack then cannot unlock the door , and kicks the car out of gear and it rolls merrily down the hill , backwards. The neighbors hear a huge ruckus at 3 AM and finally go see what it is, and find this bear going plumb berserk in the front seat . The bear eventually totalled the car, even setting off the airbags ( !?!?!?!? ) The deputies who responded at 4 AM described it as one of those …” Oh my god” callouts.

    The photo says it all. ( And not all bears are bad news when they mix it up with people. The car was fully insured. Make an offer on the booted stereo deck )


    Larkspur is a foothill town a short ways north of the Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs
    – this link may not work because it is a search result.

  15. pointswest says:

    Boy…read the the reader comments on the Reuters story of the bear attack. Some guy is blaming wolf advocates for the bear attack. It goes something like…wolves killed all the elk so now grizzlies having nothing to eat and are now wanting to eat people; I guest that is the gist of his argument. So he is pro-grizzly but anti-wolf. Hmmm.

    We need to think up names for all these various eco-political camps. I can see the whole world split over being pro-grizzly vs pro-wolf or being pro-elk vs pro-grizzly. It will not end until there are dozens of wars and only one eco-political group is left standing.

    • jon says:

      The guy who wrote that comment, his name is Bob Fanning and he has posted on here a few times. Some on here know who he is. To me, just another extremist wolf hater. Funny because I saw a similar comment made by a guy named Bruce Hemming who basically said the same thing. He said that these bears attacked humans because the wolves ate all of the game. lol

    • Moose says:

      Unfortunately Bruce is a former Yooper paranoid who claims to the day that wolves were re-introduced by the Mich DNR. He has since moved on and contributes to the anti-wolf hysteria in the SW nowaday.

      There is a small group of like-minded loonies in the NW part of the UP who make alot of noise about UN conspiracies and nefarious gov dealings.

    • jon says:

      Moose, also, according to him 130,000 Michigan deer hunters quit because the wolves wiped out all of the deer. He is indeed paranoid. Look at that link I posted. It seems to me he doesn’t like predators at all and believes man and beast cannot co exist and all of the predators must be hunted to death.

  16. pointswest says:

    Now is the time for all animal rights advocates to answer the call of nature and run outside to grizzly country to show solidarity and love for the fuzzy grizzly bear. Advocates must rise to the occasion and prove that hiking, camping, or living in grizzly country is perfectly safe as long as the stupid damn human can follow a some dead-simple guidelines that any moron should know. Advocates are needed NOW to calm any and all public fears that an uneducated, biased, and sensationalizing news media has created with the recent attacks on evil humans that had it coming near Cook City. Advocates need to assemble, camp, and hike in grizzly country without fear, going solo whenever possible, to prove to a doubtful public how the grizzly’s actions have been misinterpreted and how the poor bear has been so systematically maligned by misguided and hateful rednecks. Brownie points will awarded and extra points are available for any who might talk to a grizzly with body language.

    To sign up for your immediate hike and campout in grizzly country, just call (555) 555-5555. Solo campers get double points.

  17. Nancy says:

    Kind of like the Memorial Day beach scene in Jaws, right Pointswest?

    • pointswest says:

      I’ll bet the Federal Wildlife Service is damn glad they killed the man-killer at Kitty Creek about now.

  18. Id Hiker says:

    I replace my bear spray every few years… and I tried it out with an expired can just to see how it worked. Quite the eye opener – it explodes from the can and shot out about 20 ft. Very impressive. But you do have to have it handy – not much good in a backpack. Sad but true: the instructions said not to spray it on the tent as a prophylactic!!!! I don’t think I could accurately aim a gun with a bear charging and have never bothered to carry one.
    I’m more afraid of who was camping at a certain spot before I got there. It’s hard to believe that anyone could still leave trash and aluminum foil in a fire ring…

  19. SEAK Mossback says:

    Unfortunately, it would be impossible to deploy much of anything in some of the tents that work best for traveling light and in windy areas. We have a Clip Flashlight tent (2 person, best for 1) and a Clip 3 tent (3 person, best for 2) that I really like except sleeping around bears, as they are very low and somewhat confining. A rifle only works in one direction and, if traveling that light I would probably not lug a handgun. If using both tents, we face the openings toward eachother so if a bear bothered one, the other would person would have a full view. When sleeping in only one in treeless Arctic areas, we piled our gear a few yards away in front of the screen hoping that a bear would check that out before the tent and be in full view. An electric fence seems like some deterence but weighs a few pounds and takes time and area to set up. For boat camping in Southeast where wind is not much of a problem, I like a tall 6 person Eureka timberline with all kinds of room and screens on both ends – it would be hard or unlikely for a bear to flatten the whole thing at once. As far as deploying pepper spray in a tent, it seems like you might as well keep a bottle of tabasco sauce or other hot seasoning ready to douse yourself.

  20. jon says:

    Supposedly, they are trying to hunt down the bear(s). They have no idea if it was one bear or more than one. I guess that means any bear they see in the area they will kill even if that bear is not the one responsible for the attacks.

    • Save bears says:

      Jon, Yes, in this situation, it is most likely, that any bear in the area is subject to being killed..

      When you have a situation, that results in one dead and two injured, being a bear in the area is not a good thing..

      Last I heard, they have not even ascertained if it was a black or a grizz that did this, I am actually leaning toward a black in this instance..

    • jon says:

      Last article I read, they don’t know how many bears it was or what kind of bear. Why do you think it was a black bear sb and do you believe it was more than one? What I am more interested in is why the bears attacked them. I don’t believe they ever gave a reason why the bear attacked and killed the hiker last month in WY. Also, I would like to know if these people had bear spray or a gun with them for protection.

    • jon says:

      sb, you most likely know Kevin Frey, bear biologist for Montana fish, wildlife, and parks. Anyways, here is a good article by him talking about bear encounters. Everyone else should take a read if they want.

      Frey said seeing a bear is to be expected in Montana, and in most cases conflicts can be easily avoided.
      When conflicts do occur it is often because the bear has been surprised, teased, fed, or meets a person over a carcass or huckleberry bush.
      “If a bear cannot be avoided, the next best thing is to prevent the bear from feeling threatened,” Frey said. “A bear may watch a person, or even stand on its hind legs to sniff the air. That is normal bear behavior, it is just trying to figure out what it is seeing.”

  21. bob jackson says:

    I have witnessed quite a number of bear-tent-cabin incidents in Yellowstone over the 30 years I was in its backcountry. Had my scalp move four times (all at night) when the “wolff” is real close.

    Knock on wood, but I made it through those bear incidents without being mauled or had my horse run me into a tree after being spooked by a griz. The closest call came from a wolf jumping up and running from a scrubby White Bark ten feet from my horse on a snow driving day. God, that horse was so hard to control as it bucked and twisted going down the face of that mountain. I didn’t know if the reins would hold or break.

    So yes it all happens…and that is what makes life so rewarding…..and allows one to think we are part of, not just dominant over it….whether you carry BIG guns or not.

    Some things I always did while staking out solo on the boundary, however, whether I was in a small backpacker tent or in a larger canvas wall tent. I gathered brush and stacked it three feet high and three feet wide…with just a very narrow 6″ path leading from the doorway.

    Horse(s) and or mule were always staked nearby on pickets, but the bears I worried about were the ones the stock wouldn’t pick up. These were the ones one would hear breathing and coming in from the back side. They would circle the tent on three sides…always staying away from the side the horses were on. These were the dudes I was afraid of.

    I’d follow their path with my 44 (with Garet rounds) and flashlight (not on) …rotating them on my chest ….if I was in the small tent …. and with the wall tent the 45-70 with jacked up rounds and flashlight taped to the bottom of the barrel. They’d contact the brush but come no closer. This situation happened somewhere between 10 and 15 times during those thirty years and I have little doubt these particular bears knew very well what they were doing.

    Of course, I was off trail and in areas that were their turf, not humans. It was these boars home and I was in it.

    I’d stay awake for several hours after these “special” bears did their “stalking”…or if I was far enough Park interior and that bear wouldn’t leave, staying in the brush or trees not far away, I’d get up and use that brush to make roaring fires.

    Morning always came and each day was psychologically beautiful. Not that bears didn’t charge during the day, they did, but at least I always thought I could do something about it. Never did I feel my scalp move during those daylight encounters…but night, that’s another thing.

    I never pulled the trigger on a bear all those years but the trigger finger was ready a lot of times. As the years went on the weight on my chest became less but the alertness never faltered.

    I saw lots of tents, mostly wall with sides ripped open and sleeping bags pulled out …or most anything those bears could get their paws on after ripping. I saw old thick barn doors..doors made out of 4 full 2 x 12 planks and z patterned and bolted bracing made into two part barn doors by these bears. Yes, they can do a lot and once in awhile someone dies…and yes if a bear eats you it is a very slow death…they hold you down and eat your stomach first….but such is life and death when one is part of it instead of dominating it.

    As for bear spray, it was also always there, but I figured its best use would be if a bear was on top of a person with me.

    Maybe for a bear that was just as curious or hesitant, then a good spray, I figured I’d try, but the ones that charged me were too fast for either gun or spray.

    • SEAK Mossback says:

      Wow, this is great! – my wife and I have just been planning a mid-September backcountry trip in Yellowstone – thinking about either upper Gardiner-Fawn Pass or the upper Lamar. Both areas we’ve been before, but 5 or so years ago before a rash of bear-in-tent incidents and now some great “scalp-moving” stories. I could probably develop some true apprehension re-reading that great campfire story about Old Groaner (“The Moaning Marauder of Cripple Creek” by Handlogger Jackson, Alaska Sportsman Magazine, Sept. 1953).

      My most hair-raising night-time encounter was the summer I was 19 doing mostly enforcement work on streams on the Alaska Peninsula. We usually worked in pairs in tents, and were never really troubled by bears there although they were sometimes moving around our camoflaged tent in streamside alders all night occasionally feet away, but the only time I slept behind walls (albeit flimsy ones) I really needed them. I got dropped off by myself from a vessel at mid-day in Canoe Bay (inner Pavlof Bay between Chignik and King Cove) and moved into a little plywood box cabin perched next to a cinder blow (volcanic ash) that was used as a supercub strip. It had one small window next to a hollow core bathroom-type door that was held closed from the inside by a stick with a nail driven through and turned. There were no fishing boats around and the weather was starting to howl with driving rain so I fired up a coleman stove, heated a can of soup and went to sleep before dark on a low metal cot. The cabin was shaking and the builder hadn’t bothered to overlap the sheathing below the floor, so wind-driven rain streamed across the floor.

      Sometime around 11 p.m . in absolute pitch black there was a tremendous jolt, crash and splintering plywood right at the foot of my bed. It sounded like a truck had crashed into it ,and for a few seconds I thought it had actually broken through. There was more pounding and scratching and then I could hear those nostrils sniffing and working their way along that crack toward the flimsy hollow door with the nail, while desperately groping around for the rifle & ripping the contents out of my packed duffel for a flashlight. I found both after a panicked couple of minutes and then yelled and kicked the side of the cabin. I could begin to smell bear as it continued around but then but then it ceased – – – a few feet short of the door. Nothing but blasting wind and beating rain . . . . . for minutes, hours.

      I was able to lay my cot across the rafters and spent the next two nights up there where I had a commanding (if very close) view of the door. Only later did I find out the guy I’d replaced had a similar incident while heating lunch in an old dilapidated federal cabin 2 miles away. A sow with a 2-year old came up and reached and tried to climb in a broken out window. He fired through the other one but she just came around and started reaching through that one. When she finally moved off aways, he packed up his stuff and ran the 2 miles to the place I was dropped off (he was picked up by plane a day before I was dropped off so I didn’t hear his story until later). I got one good look at her from a boat close to shore – – – she appeared to have serious attitude. It was the only camping spot all summer with a hard wall . . . and boy did I appreciate it!

    • JEFF E says:

      My ex was camping with her parents as a twelve year old and for some reason they had brought the pet cat with them. She was in the camper with the cat, everyone else was out side in the open. In comes a black bear and starts rooting around which wakes everyone up. Of course my ex being concerned about the cat locked the camper door and would not let anyone in(mom, dad, two brothers) still laugh about that …..(not to diminish yesterdays tragedy)

  22. pointswest says:

    The bear mauled three separate people and the Montana Fish and Wildlife service does not have someone who can find a track and tell if it is a grizzly or black bear track? There should be tracks all over the place.

    • Angela says:

      I was wondering the same thing. One article says they also collected hair!

    • SAP says:

      Gotta say, bears don’t leave that many tracks. It’s been awhile since I was through that area, but there’s not a whole lot of mud around to make a nice track.

      The bear may have left somewhat clear tracks in the road — either in dust or mud, but consider the chaos of people on foot and in vehicles, fleeing the campground in the dark. Any tracks in the road probably got erased.

      Best bet here is going to be DNA from hair or saliva.

  23. Angela says:

    Might it not be safer to shoot a gun to *scare* a bear off than to shoot at the bear to injure/kill it? Seems to me the noise would do the trick in many cases, without the risk of a bullet making a bear mad–anyone have any experience with that scenario? What if one carried an air horn for the same reason? If I was a predator, I wouldn’t eat someone blaring an air horn at me.

    “So yes it all happens…and that is what makes life so rewarding…..and allows one to think we are part of, not just dominant over it….whether you carry BIG guns or not.”

    It really DOES make life rewarding, which is probably why I wonder about people who want the entire world de-clawed for their safety. Thanks for putting that into words.

  24. Jeff says:

    Found this article in the Denver Post—Sounds like four bears will be removed for this attack.

    • jon says:

      Did they actually determine that these bears were responsible for the attacks or do they just give a death sentence to any bears that find their baited bait?

    • jon says:

      Sheppard said Thursday that officials are confident they captured the offending bear because she was caught at the same site.

      These people are so clueless. What if the offending bears went somewhere else after the attacks and a different grizzly and her 2 or 3 cubs just happened to wander into that area overnight? These people most likely will kill any bear they find and think that these bears must be responsible for the attacks. Do they actually try to find out if this or that bear was responsible or do they just assume that any bear they find in that area must have done it? These people are giving death sentences to bears that might not have been involved in the attacks while the offending bear is still out there.

    • Elk275 says:


      When I was growing up my mother use to say “you can been innocent, but if you associate with guilty people then you are guilty”, it would be a bummer to be a innocent bear in the Cooke City area now.

    • Save bears says:


      They are not clueless, they are simply doing what a good majority of the public in the area are demanding.

    • jon says:

      sb, they might be killing a bear that might not have even been responsible for the attacks. All they are doing is assuming that any bear they find that was in the area must have been responsible for the attacks. I doubt the majority of the public would want a bear not responsible for the attacks to be killed.

    • jon says:

      Ain’t that the cold hard truth elk!

    • Save bears says:


      The people in Cooke city would be the major factor as this is only about 1/2 mile from Cooke and there has been problems in that area for a few years…Bears have broke into cabins before and had to be shot.

      As I said in another message, I hope they do test to make sure it is the correct bear(s) as they have now capture 3 bears, there should be no hurry to destroy them, they have time to complete a DNA test..common sense needs to be the protocol, not hysteria, but it does not diminish the fact, one dead and two injured and my thoughts go out to those families…

  25. Cody Coyote says:

    “They” won’t tell us what specie of bear it was till they’re darn good and ready . That may be a while. The shockwaves from Erwin Evert’s deadly mauling five weeks ago are still shaking the bear research-bear wrangling community, big time.

    They will undoubtedly try to trap the bear who did this, once they have enough to ID it…it was not wearing a radio collar, after all. That bear, if found, has a signed death warrant waiting. In the interests of ” public safety ” , which ranks right up there with ” national security” in my Book of Excuses, the agencies will not be publicizing their response activities, and will be exercising strict control of the scene. .E.G. The press photographers were kept a VERY long ways back from the mauling scene in Cooke City yesterday, even though many agency reps were wandering about with no bear protection visible. Shotguns abounded, but not all the investigators had their personal bear repellents or blasters.

    There has been an unusual amount of bear control done in east Yellowstone and the southern end of the GYE this summer already. We have allowed too many bears to multiply inside a too small area , a bear territory that is getting intrinsicially smaller with subdivisions, developments, increased human encroachments ,etc. B F Skinner’s ‘rats in a box’ behavior experiments are being played out in the Greater Yellowstone every day.

    It may be time for Wyoming to have grizzly hunts , not that I necessarily believe grizz will learn anything from being hunted.. But—It is W-A-A-A-Y past the time to expand the grizzly bear’s range in all directions outwards from the core of Yellowstone, all the way to the Unitas, Pryors, Big Horns, interior Idaho , and northwest up the corridor to Canada. Wyoming has resisted this bear dispersion notion fiercely , almost as fiercely as it has resisted allowing wolves to expand out of their box .

    I don’t know what to tell you about managing or conditioning Black bears. We are already hunting them ; they are everywhere. And frankly , it’s black bears that make more real trouble than grizzlies. I personally am more concerned about a belligerent black bear than I have ever been about a grizzly. My 200 + grizzly encounters in the wild have all been positive. Conversely , I’ve had some very naughty or even mean black bears to deal with over the years.

  26. Cody Coyote says:

    …and this just came over the wires at 9 AM Thursday :

    [ Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks warden Sam ] “Sheppard said Thursday that officials are confident they captured the offending bear.

    Sheppard describes the attacks as highly unusual and predatory, as opposed to an attack in which a sow might be protecting her cubs from a perceived threat.

    Officials have said the sow will be killed….”

  27. jon says:

    It may be time for Wyoming to have grizzly hunts , not that I necessarily believe grizz will learn anything from being hunted..

    How could they Cody? If they are hunted, than they are dead. There is nothing to be learned. Just like Chris Servheen said in the past, a hunted bear doesn’t learn anything, it’s dead. All of the hunting in the world is not going to stop bear attacks on humans. They will continue to happen. That is the inevitable. Humans encroaching on bear habitat is one of the main reasons for that and you have people leaving their trash out and not cleaning up after themselves.

  28. Robert Hoskins says:

    It would be easy enough to take samples from the wounds of the people attacked, extract DNA, and compare it to DNA taken from the captured Cooke City bear. Whether Montana FWP will do that, who knows? DNA extraction was certainly done with the Kitty Creek incident to identify the “offending” bear, which, despite comments from some ignorant people, was not a predatory event but the defensive response of a drugged and disoriented bear to an unknowing and unlucky hiker.

    It is clear to me, as Cody Coyote has commented, that we have too many bears for too small an area. I do think the pressure cooker analogy I used above is apt. It’s our own mismanagement of bears that is contributing to bear problems.

    One way to fix that problem is, of course shoot more bears. But that’s not conservation, is it? It certainly doesn’t teach bears anything. The only effective response is to open up more habitat to bears. It’s certainly available.


    • Save bears says:

      I agree Robert, although I am calling it the perfect storm, right now, we have more bears as well as more humans in the woods and the bears really have no where to go. We are literally managing bears and humans to death.

  29. Elk275 says:

    ++COOKE CITY — Montana wildlife officials have captured a female grizzly and two of her three cubs in a campground near Yellowstone National Park where a man was killed and two others injured in a bear attack.

    Fish, Wildlife and Parks Warden Capt. Sam Sheppard says the bear was captured in a culvert trap Wednesday evening and two of her three cubs were captured overnight.

    Sheppard said Thursday that officials are confident they captured the offending bear.

    Sheppard describes the attacks as highly unusual and predatory, as opposed to an attack in which a sow might be protecting her cubs from a perceived threat.

    Officials have said the sow will be killed. State and federal wildlife officials will determine the fate of the cubs. Sheppard says they are unlikely to be returned to the wild.++

  30. Robert Hoskins says:


    As far as this event is concerned, since it certainly looks like a predatory event, FWP would be wise to do a DNA analysis to make sure the bear they have is the right bear before they kill it. Otherwise …

    I notice the “authorities” are not describing to the press the wounds of the man killed in the attack. Must have been pretty bad.

    Yes, the politics of bear management is making bear management worse.


    • Save bears says:

      I really hope they do a DNA test, all due diligence should demand they make sure they have the right bear, I however am afraid that the hysteria may have them follow a hasty road to destruction…as with Kitty Creek we know they can do a quick DNA test and have results quick..

      And I agree, this is looking like an extremely rare predatory situation..

    • jon says:

      I hope so too sb. Atleast if they do, we know if that bear they killed was indeed the one responsible for the attacks.

    • JEFF E says:

      they did say they collected hair samples……

    • jon says:

      sb, I hope they do a dna test as well. It would be in their best interest to do so because if it turns out that they killed the wrong bear and the bear responsible is still out there, there is most likely going to be some backlash like there has already been I am sure.

    • Save bears says:

      From my understanding, I have heard that Cooke looks like a small military compound today, people with guns and bear spray on the street…

    • Robert Hoskins says:

      Typical government overreaction. You’d think it was Osama bin Grizz. .


  31. Robert Bunch says:

    So they are “confident” they have the right bear! Personally I would prefer that they were positive they had the right bear or bears. That doesn’t seem to much to ask as far as I can see. They should be able to match DNA from the attack scene to the captured bears to make sure they are right. I wonder if they will.

  32. Robert Hoskins says:


    If you still have contact with people in FWP, it might be a good idea to recommend to them they do a DNA test before killing the sow griz. Catching her and the cubs the night after is no proof she’s guilty. It would be sheer negligence not to do the test, kill her, and think the problem’s solved. If they have the wrong bear, the problem is not solved.


    • Save bears says:

      Robert I have made calls this morning..

    • jon says:

      RH, I couldn’t agree more. Atleast make sure you are killing the bear that is actually responsible. I think it’s rather stupid to assume that any bear you find in an area where a bear attack happened is the bear responsible.

    • Save bears says:


      In light of the Kitty Creek incident a few weeks ago, I am pretty sure they are going to make sure they have the right bear(s) I don’t think FWP need or want the backlash from killing the wrong bear… Now one factor, not being discussed, is this is a National Forest Campground, so LE for NFS do have input into this matter as well as the County Sheriff…so you have more than just FWP involved here…

  33. Robert Hoskins says:

    I’ve just called the folks at NRDC-Montana to see if they could put pressure on FWP to test before killing.


    • Janet Barwick says:


      I wanted to let you and everyone know that I spoke to an official at the Gallatin National Forest who said that they would wait for the DNA to come in this afternoon to make sure that they bear they currently have is, in fact, the offending bear.

      Janet Barwick

    • Save bears says:

      Thanks for the information Janet, I am glad to hear they are taking the proper procedure to ensure they did catch the right will be unfortunate to loose a Sow with cubs, but at least they will confirm instead of being reactionary.

  34. Tim says:

    They caught a few bears

  35. Robert Hoskins says:

    I’ve just received a press release from the Shoshone National Forest regarding “bear activity.” Talk about over-reacting:

    “Cody, Wyo. (July 29, 2010) – Acting forest supervisor Dave Pieper has implemented camping restrictions in areas of the Clarks Fork Ranger District of the Shoshone National Forest.
    On the Shoshone National Forest, camping in campgrounds and in dispersed areas from the Crazy Creek Campground to the Montana state line is limited to hard-sided RVs only. Tent camping and pop-up campers are not allowed.
    The restriction is being implemented due to increased bear activity in the area. The restriction is necessary to protect human life and provide for public safety after a bear-caused fatality in the Soda Butte Campground on the Gallatin National Forest.
    Everyone should be reminded that proper food storage has been required in these areas for many years and both the food storage requirement and camping restriction will be strictly enforced by the Forest Service.
    The Crazy Creek Campground is located approximately 70 miles northwest of Cody near the Montana state line.
    More information is available on the Shoshone’s Web site at or at the Clarks Fork Ranger District office in Cody at 307.527.6921.”


  36. pointswest says:

    Wow…three cubs. It is beginning to sound like starvation. I wonder if they will measure her and her cub’s body fat.

    Imagine…she was probably well fed during last year’s wet and green summer so she produces three cubs in the den. Then the warm dry winter gets her out of the den early in April. Then, with three cubs nursing, it snows for two more months. Then the weather quickly turns hot and dry and her normal food sources are scarce. She is going hungry and the three big cubs are still trying to nurse her.

    I think a likely cause is starvation. I hope we get a report.

  37. pointswest says:

    If there has been two bear attacks at this Soda Butte campground in just a few years, why don’t they put a bear-proof fence around it?

  38. Cindy says:

    I can’t touch the bear proof fence comment, I mean this is only the WILDERNESS after all. Anyhoo, I was wondering if anyone knows if she’d been seen in the area prior to night before last or was this her first visit? Ralph, would starving be a concern this summer?

    • Janet Barwick says:


      From the reports that I’ve read, this bear was in good condition, 300-400 pounds. But with what is happening to whitebark pine and cutthroat trout, I think you question is a good one. Mountain pine beetle has hit the areas around Cooke City pretty hard, and lacking these natural food sources begs the question, was this a food stressed bear?


    • pointswest says:

      It is on the outskirts of Cooke City! And from the looks of things in Google Earth, it looks like there are developments going in on the hills to the northeast of Cooke City…so it is disapearing wilderness that no one on this blog seems to care about.

    • Save bears says:


      I don’t think nobody cares, but I would have to say, when talking about development in the Cooke City area, we are talking a very small scale situation, the area does not lend itself to large scale development, far less than many areas..

    • Elk275 says:


      ++I can’t touch the bear proof fence comment, I mean this is only the WILDERNESS after all. Anyhoo,++

      So when you got home last night you kiss your little RV for the coming camping trip to Pebble Creek. “It is only wilderness”. Bear proof fences and RV’s are one and the same to me.

    • pointswest says:

      ++Mountain pine beetle has hit the areas around Cooke City pretty hard, and lacking these natural food sources begs the question, was this a food stressed bear?++

      …and I read in another group official reports (do not recall details) that bears emerged from dens very early in this strange weather year. This one had three cubs.

    • Save bears says:


      They did indeed emerge early…and their food sources have been modified, but as Janet said, it looks like this was a healthy bear, something really had to be unique in this situation, it would be very rare to have a sow with cubs go predatory…

    • Save bears says:

      Right now, the best any of us can do is speculate, if confirmed, she will be destroyed and we should have a better picture of possible reasons for this incident…

    • jon says:

      sb, I was just thinking the same thing. It would have made more sense if it was a lone bear, but for a grizzly mom with 2 or 3 cubs to just attack people in their tents does not make a lot of sense to me. I don’t think we will ever know as to why the bear attacked. They said this wasn’t a food related incident, but isn’t it possible that the bear may have smelled something coming from their tents and went to investigate and just started attacking? Bears usually have a good reason as to why they attack. Even if people keep their food in the right place, can’t bears still smell it? What is there to stop bears from coming into people’s tents if the bear smells food in there?

    • Save bears says:

      If there was food in the tents, then they were not following common teaching as well as could be violating food storage rules, I have seen nothing to indicate they had attractants in their tents…normally wild bears if they don’t get a food reward will look elsewhere for food if they can’t get the reward quickly, which is why food storage boxes in campgrounds are successful, they won’t expend extra energy, unless a reward is present normally..

      Something went very wrong here, and I hope they can find something out…

    • jon says:

      Does anyone know if there are more grizzlies or black bears in the area where the attacks happened?

    • Save bears says:

      More black bears Jon, through out the eco-system there are far more black bears than grizzlies..

    • pointswest says:

      A sow with three cubs could become hungry very quickly. She may not be starving to the point of significant weight loss but could be having trouble finding food to a point where survival instincts override caution.

      I think the camp ground being so close to Cooke City is another indication that she was drawn to the area by hunger and the smell of food that shy may have picked up miles away.

  39. Cindy says:

    The most development in Cooke City is at the bar downtown. It’s barely a town it’s more like Cooke City Street. And when I was there last, a few months ago, the forest was still butted right up to main street. Again, anyhoo I will eagerly wait to hear if she’d been sighted around town recently.

    • pointswest says:

      Well it is hard to tell exactly what I am looking at in Google Earth but there appears to be three or four RELETIVELY large developments with six or more building pads. They might not be building pads but campsites. There are several more smaller areas that look like single buiding pads.

      Yeah…it may not be a big deal but in a few more years, there will be a few more small developments. In a few years after that, there will be even more. In just a half century, there could be all kinds of developement around the Yellowstone and Teton Parks.

    • Save bears says:


      Your not going to stop development on private land..

    • Elk275 says:

      Years and years ago developers looked at developing a ski area in Cooke City. There is not enough private land to justify any large scale development. The largest private land owner, the estate of Margarite Reeb, was recently purchase by the forest sevice. There will continue to be development of single family second homes on a very small scale.

    • Mike says:

      Sure there is. It’s called “eminent domain”, and as more and more open land is swallowed, it will be used to bring back balance. Maybe not now, but probably 100 years out.

    • pointswest says:

      +++Your not going to stop development on private land..++

      They stopped me here in Culver City. They want what’s called a “dedication” off the front of one my properties since they want to enlarge the street someday. They are taking 15 feet off the front. They changed the building lines and took another 5 feet off the back in the alley way. So with 15 feet off the front and 5 feet off the back, my building site is 20 feet shorter than it was when I bought the property. Since I need a 20% max slope for any ramp to subterranean parking, I cannot now attain the required parking space for a development…at least not at reasonalble cost.

      If they can control me, they can control anyone.

      With the Endangered Species Act and maybe a new Act expanding the Park, they could control development. People would fight but they would lose.

      The did it in the Columbia River Gorge. They are doing it in Fremont Country Idaho. They could certainly do it in an expanded Park. They pass a few codes and that’s it. Development is controlled. It is done everywhere all the time whether the land owners have guns or not.

  40. Nancy says:

    pointswest Says:
    July 29, 2010 at 12:35 PM
    It is on the outskirts of Cooke City! And from the looks of things in Google Earth, it looks like there are developments going in on the hills to the northeast of Cooke City…so it is disapearing wilderness that no one on this blog seems to care about.

    I think alot of the people on this site care PW (I bought a close to 50 year old cabin) But what are ya gonna do when land is cheap (compared to other areas) and people want to build a second home, as happens to be the situation where I live and most of them are from out of state?

    • pointswest says:

      You enlarge the Parks out to some more natural boundries. You make some land swaps and you try and control developement on private land that remains in an expanded Park…placing priority on wildlife survival.

      Some large private land parcels, as large as a few square miles, could be enclosed with fencing to keep the large preditors out so people would have safe areas to camp and not worry about the large preditors.

      The remainder of the Park (like 98%) would be near true Wilderness and humans would have to take special precations there.

    • Leslie says:

      I understand that Yellowstone would like very much to expand the park to include the Beartooths. They already maintain the Beartooth Hwy. Cooke City and these campgrounds are in the lower elevations areas of the Beartooths. Its certainly a natural fit and so beautiful, it should be part of the park. Of course, there doesn’t seem to be much sentiment nor money for expanding National Parks these days.

      PW Cooke City is a funky little town that is landlocked in the wintertime. There really is plenty of habitat surrounding the entire area. On the west of these campgrounds is Yellowstone. To the east are lower elevations lakes and stream that rise up to the 10,000 ft plus beartooth range. To the north are National Forests also rising to high elevations. My understanding though from talking with Chris Sevhreen is that the Beartooths don’t really have moth sites.

      It seems to me that I’ve seen lots of bear sign really late in the season this year when by now those bears should be going up to higher elevations, especially with the hot weather we’ve been having lately.

  41. Robert Hoskins says:


    Thanks very much for posting and for following up the concerns over testing and getting the right bear. It’s good to let the agencies know that we’re looking over their shoulder to make sure they do the right thing.

    Thanks also for bringing up the food stress issue. Yes, I too have heard the captured bear was in good physical shape. I don’t think it makes sense to blame this incident just on “short-term” food stresses that may exist due to the strange weather we had this past winter, spring, and summer.

    Those of us who’ve been paying attention to bears over the years are seeing increasing food stress each year as standard foods such as whitebark pine and cutthroat trout decline. The loss of these major food sources over the years–a long term problem–highlights the major problem with how we now manage bears, which is to try to keep them within an entirely artificial Primary Conservation Area and keep them from dispersing to biologically suitable habitat outside the PCA. That’s the politics of bear management, a politics that causes the agencies to willfully mismanage bears. The PCA really is a pressure cooker–too many bears within too small an area. Bears need more habitat. Period.


  42. jburnham says:

    Updated news stories are calling this a “predatory” attack, but I’ve seen no mention of whether or not the man that died was eaten. Also, one of the survivors says that when she played dead, the bear left her alone. Herrero (and common sense) says that predatory bears aren’t dissuaded by playing dead. And one has to wonder why a predatory bear would kill one person and bite another, only to move on to a third victim.

    Any way you look at it, this is a strange one. I hope we get some good info from some bear experts soon.

    • Elk275 says:

      They have never figured out the 1967 Glacier National Park bear killings and they will never figure this one out either. Four of us, sixteen year olds lads, were backpacking behind this campground, when the Glacier incident happen. Our families started to wonder if we had suffered the same fate when delayed a day coming home.

    • Robert Hoskins says:


      You’ve raised some interesting questions, answers to which I’ve been trying to track down, actually. There are a lot of things about this incident that don’t make sense, the first being why would a sow grizz with three cubs be involved in a predatory event on humans in a campground? I can see a lone boar grizz doing this, but have a hard time accepting that a sow with cubs did it. The latter would be very unusual. Further, as SB and Cody Coyote speculated, my impression when I first heard about it was that this was a black bear event. Certainly black bears are more likely to prey on humans than grizzly bears.

      I have also specifically asked whether the man who was killed had been consumed to any degree. Apparently, he was not dragged away from his campsite, as you’d expect, but who knows? I’m also interesting in knowing the sequence of attacks–who got hit first? One assumes the dead man was the first victim, then the two survivors.

      There are a lot of questions that need to be answered. First of all though, we need to know whether the DNA matches.

    • pointswest says:

      We’ll have to get the full story. She may have been drawn into the campsite by hunger but who knows what transpired as this hungry, and perhaps irrititable, bear began snooping the tents for food with three cubs to protect.

  43. Cody Coyote says:

    The so-called ” developments” some of you are seeing adjacent to Cooke City are the remains of the mining industry…old pits, excavations, tailings pits roads etc. of the last 140 years exploration in the New World mining district which covers 40,000 acres. Some are being actively cleaned up, but it looks just like construction from the satellite 425 miles high. Not a lot of new homes and McMansions on that northeast side of Cooke…they’re all down southwesterly between town and Silver Gate. The next cluster of buildings a few miles east is the tiny community of Cooke Pass, or as we call it ,Big Moose, for the ‘lodge’ on main street.

    Thankfully , not “developed out” in Cooke City yet. But it sure is getting gentrified with expatriate yuppies.

  44. Nancy says:

    This happened last fall. Does anyone know if there was a followup to the story and if the bear was located? Same bear maybe?

  45. jon says:

    This story right here is reporting that the grizzly bear’s cows will also be killed.

    The mama grizzly, who weighs between 300 and 400 pounds, killed one person and injured two others at the Soda Butte campground around 4 a.m.before campers sought shelter in their vehicles. All the bears, including the cubs, will be euthanized. They are considered a threat after witnessing their mother being aggressive.

    • jon says:

      I meant CUBS.

    • Mike says:

      I hope that’s not true. No reason to kill the cubs.

      I’ve been thinking about my experience with this campground and why it always spooked me. It really seems to be in the middle of a wildlife corridor between the Absaroka range and the Beartooths. There are nice wide, grassy paths between trees leading up to the slopes, etc. Not to mention garbage left by visitors and so on.

  46. Virginia says:

    Cody Coyote – thank you for explaining the area around Cooke City for people who are trying to make judgments about what is going on by using Google Earth. Sometimes you just have to have been up there to know what development has been going on over the years (not that much). We have camped at Soda Butte several times and I cannot imagine it or any of the other campgrounds up there being fenced in with bear fence. When you go out in the wilderness or the forest, you are taking your chances on things that might happen to you. If you choose to sleep in a tent in grizzly country (where there are plenty of warnings about them), that is a decision you make. I, for one, do not want to be protected from everything out there. If I did, I would not be camping, hiking, etc. in these wild areas.

    • jon says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more Virginia and in situations like this, it’s a most certain death sentence for the animals involved.

  47. Cindy says:

    Robert H or Ralph- what is your opinion concerning killing the cubs too?

  48. jon says:

    Officials have said the sow will be killed if DNA evidence confirms it was the same bear that attacked the victims. Aasheim said the test results were expected by Friday.
    “Everything points to it being the offending bear, but we are not going to do anything until we have DNA samples,” Aasheim said.

    Thank you RH and sb.

    • Mike says:

      Glad to see they are holding off until a DNA match.

      I hope it doesn’t match.

    • jon says:

      Interesting comment I found here Mike.

      Dani 5 hours ago Report Abuse
      I agree with those who posted the fact that these are wild animals, doing what is natural to them and shouldn’t be hunted and killed if someone is killed or hurt. I’m sorry that a man died and two others were hurt but they choose to be out in the wild, which is and should always be the territory of the wildlife that live in it. If you make a choice to put yourself in potential danger, then if something happens, it is your fault. I hate the idea that they are killing the mother bear and possibly the babies. Just utterly ridiculous we humans can be sometimes.
      Replies (2)

    • jon says:

      Bad news, but expected. I just seen on the news that if it turns out the grizzly bear caught is the bear responsible, her 3 1 year old cubs will be killed as well. Sad a sad and tragic situation all the way around.

  49. Robert Hoskins says:


    My understanding is that these are yearling cubs, not COY, but they are still too young to be turned loose without the sow. If the sow is killed, then what’s going to happen is either the cubs will be placed into confinement (zoo or bear park) or they will be killed. In either case, they’re lost to the wild population.

    Unfortunately, I think that will be the case even if the DNA doesn’t match, given the politics of bear maulings and killings. I don’t see these bears, even if the sow is innocent, being hauled down to Jackson or here and turned loose. You can imagine the local response to that.

    Remember, the drugged and disoriented male bear that attacked and killed Frank Evert a month ago in Kitty Creek west of Cody was shot two days later “in the interest of public safety” even though the bear was entirely innocent of predatory intent in attacking Evert and had never been in trouble before.

    The biological samples have been sent to the Wyo G&F lab in Laramie for DNA testing. Given the speed with which the lab can work, we should know if there’s a match by the end of the week. If there is a match, there’s no option but to kill the sow. But even if there isn’t a match, these bears have no future, I’m sorry to say.


    • I don’t see why the sow and COY would be put down if their DNA doesn’t match. After all that would mean the killer bear or bears are still out there!

    • RH,

      I could be like in the Old South . . . “we,ve got a Black guy who we can plausibly pin the rape on. We don’t need to look further.” However, I don’t think people will be assured if the bears’ DNA doesn’t match.

  50. Save bears says:


    From my understanding there are no current facilities in the US, that are prepared to accept 2 or three yearling cubs and they really are not old enough to make it on their own, which leaves one conclusion.

    I am awaiting the conclusions of the DNA test, because I still have some doubt in my mind if this was actually a Grizz attack…

    • jon says:

      What I want to know is why the bear attacked if this is indeed the bear responsible. There had to be some reason why the grizzly ripped into the tents and attacked people. There is much more to the story than we are being told. I haven’t heard anything on the news or in stories about the grizzly eating the man it killed or trying to eat the other people it attacked.My own personal belief is that it is somehow food related. This is my own personal opinion. It is really the only scenario that makes some sense. The woman who got attacked and got interviewed, did not say anything about the bear trying to eat her. these attacks happened for a reason.

  51. Cindy says:

    Thank you! The thought of the cubs “going” somewhere was equally disturbing to me as the thought of them being put down with their Mother. Bears certainly are front and center in new of the universe right now. I will ponder the reasons, but in my heart of hearts I know they just don’t have enough room.

  52. Robert Hoskins says:


    There are still many unanswered questions about this attack. Certainly the scenarios that have been put forth make no sense at all. The deceased’s tent was across the campground–10 acres in size–from the two survivors’ tents. Why would a predatory bear attack two people in tents on one side of the campground without killing them and then cross to the other side of the campground to kill a man in his tent, drag him off, and then eat on him (yes, it now appears the deceased was bear food) with a lot of commotion going on in the campground (people shouting, blasting horns, etc.). It makes even less sense to kill the man first, eat on him a little, then leave to go to the other side of the campground to attack two people also in tents.

    The more I learn the more confused I am.


    • Save bears says:


      I agree, there are many confusing reports in this incident, something is no right…and I, even after working for one of the investigative agencies am getting more and more confused with every phone call and report I am reading, something is not adding up here, and again, that is not to diminish the loss of a human life, but I feel like I am currently on a out of control roller coaster!

    • jon says:

      sb, I have not heard anything about the bear trying to eat the man that he killed. Have you heard something about the bear trying to eat the man that it killed? I think what is ming boggling about this whole thing is why the bear or bears attacked people and killed one in the first place.

    • Robert Hoskins says:


      Based on my own digging, the deceased suffered “really, really bad wounds” and “soft tissue” was consumed. I still don’t know to what degree; only those who have seen the body know for sure. I suppose we could get the coroner’s report.

      But unless my sources are wrong, and I have no reason to doubt them, this appears to be a predatory event. What’s still not clear is whether the sow now in captivity is indeed the culprit and what the sequence of attacks was. As I mentioned above, the current scenarios don’t make rational sense. Like SB, I still have trouble accepting that a grizzly sow with 3 cubs did this. It would be easier to accept a griz boar or a black bear, although the specifics still bother me. (Crossing the campground). In any case we’ll know once the DNA test is back.


  53. pointswest says:

    The AP says that the three smaller bears were yearlings and not cubs.

    Quote: “The bear believed to be responsible for the rampage at the Soda Butte Campground was lured into a trap fashioned from culvert pipe and pieces of the dead man’s tent. Wildlife officials left the 300- to 400-pound sow in place overnight to attract her young, and by Thursday morning two of her year-old offspring were in adjacent traps.

    The third could be heard nearby through much of the day, calling out to its mother and eliciting heavy groans from the sow, which periodically rattled its steel cage.

    By late afternoon, the cub could no longer be heard. Wildlife officials said it likely had sought cover as the day warmed up, and they hoped it would return Thursday evening because it could not be allowed to stay in the wild.

    “Eventually he’ll get hungry and he’ll come back,” said Fish Wildlife and Parks spokeswoman Andrea Jones.” end quote.

    So she was probably not suckling “cubs”. They were yearlings born the spring before and she has probably dried up. Maybe the yearlings did some of the damage.

    • pointswest says:

      Well, I guess she may still have been suckling them. I checked and grizzlies might suckle for up to three years, but the yearlings were probably large enough to have done some of the mauling.

  54. bob jackson says:

    I never heard of an attack by a bear that was “out of the blue”. There was always a history to these bears…and in this case I’d say most any guide or outfitter in the Cooke City – Sunlight Basin knows, or has a good idea which bear did the dirty deed.

    Why do they know but don’t come forward? Because to come forward means there are more bear regulations and monitoring coming to these camps.

    Their crime? Leaving lots of elk carcasses on the ground after shooting and at the same time making sure they take the skull plate and cape. The bears get way too habituated to humans through this unnatural contact …. and source of thousands of pounds of meat every fall. this is why you have Cooke City killer bears.

    Do you think the outfitters want to come up out of the slime and ooze and say they had problems with a bear(s) the fall before? Hell no.

    After Swiss Miss was eaten in Yellowstone in the early 80’s my boss and I rode into a outfitter camp, saw fresh bear tracks the size of swiss misses killer right outside the camp…then saw the tracks all around and in the camp. The outfitter uncharacteristically met us at the hitching rail and tried to pretend everything was all A – OK.

    I then asked if he had any bears in camp. He says, “no”. Then I point to the fresh griz track not 6 inches from his boot. Then he starts shuddering, his whole body, and stammers that he needs to show us something. Lo and behold 4 wall tents have their sides ripped open. Happened last night he says…and it was lucky the hunters had headed out to the front country that prior morning. Said the bear pulled the sleeping bags on that side out of those tents..same as Swiss Miss was pulled out still in her sleeping bag..

    The outfitter was truly scared. But do you think he would of told us about that bear if I hadn’t called him on it. No!!!

    To tell means the feds come sniffing around.

    In the Cooke City case if there was a “problem” bear the fall before, to tell means it is just one step closer to the requirement that ALL elk have to either have someone stay with that carcass while pack horses are brought in …or they have to dead head extra stock with them while hunting. And no one in those camps wants that.

    Besides outfitters like it that bears get clients elk carcasses. No packing that way. Thorofare was full of bear stories, which guides and outfitters shared with each other. They would tip each other off about these bears…but as far as private hunters it was as if they were guinea pigs for those bears.

    Yes, the outfitters know a lot about those bears around Cooke City …and they have a very good idea which bear did the damage at this campground, but to everyone else it is a “rare suprise predatory attack”. Hardly, hardly I say you govt. ignorant fools.

    And what are the outfitters in this area thinking right now? “There will be less private hunters to deal with this fall”. It all is so sick…and the bears are the ones who take it in the shorts.

    And as far as a man being eaten, and the other campers don’t know it till later, I can say most persons eaten have bruises on the little finger side of their hands. That is because they are hitting that bear while it is pulling intestines out of their stomach….and screaming, whether they are in shock or not. So either this man had a jugular vein severed right away in the dragging from the tent or a more likely scenario is where we have campers around him who cowered in their tents while this guy screamed his head off.

    Think Clint Eastwood and High Plains Drifter where all those residents, and especially the shrinking dry goods merchant, cowered behind the door, and you just might “see” what happened in this campground that night. ya, its such a pretty sight…all behind the scenes that is.

    • pointswest says:

      There is a problem in pointing the finger at hunters or outfitters for bear problems…most maulings take place in or very near National Parks where there is no hunting.

  55. Leslie says:

    Bob, that is very interesting. I read the autobiography of Jim Corbett, the hunter who killed many man-eating tigers and leopards in India.

    Corbett National Park in India is named in his honor. He said that every one of the animals he killed (one leopard had killed and eaten over 400 people) had something wrong with it, usually something done to it by humans. For instance, one had been shot and could not eat its normal prey, but had to eat soft bodied animals…read human. But all of these ‘man-eaters’ had been poached or hurt by humans to the extent that they couldn’t hunt normally.

    I’m not suggesting that this bear had this problem, But I am wondering what exactly is happening here. Is there something going on with her food supply in general this summer? Having a hard time feeding her cubs for whatever reasons?

    Its a tragic circumstance and I hope that with dwindling food sources due to climate change, we won’t see more unusual behaviors. Maybe not man-eating, but more human-bear conflicts. Yellowstone is seeing the most people ever this year. With reduced habitat, climate changes, more people in wildlife areas, there is more pressure on wildlife. Wildlife, like people, can also act like too many ‘rats in a cage’.

    • jon says:

      I hope it’s not the bear they captured. I would hate to see 3 or 4 more grizzly bears die at the hands of humans. We kill enough of them already.

  56. Leslie says:

    I live not too far from Cooke City and went by there on Tuesday on my way to Montana. I came back through this afternoon and saw that Soda Butte closed with NF rangers with guns at the entrance. Every campground down the road was closed. I stopped and talked with a campground host to find out what went on.

    He and I talked ‘trash’. He told me how he cleaned up bags and bags of it daily from the fire pits. Sometimes whole coolers full of food are left. I told him how even when I do long hikes, I find fire pits off trail, mostly from fall hunters, filled with beer cans, foil, trash.

    When I first moved to Sunlight Basin, I had an old dog that loved food more than anything. I took her to Little Sunlight Campground by the river. She spent 45 minutes going through 2 man made firepits, eating and digging in them.

    Last year I took a hike into the elk creek drainage and came upon a hunters camp, complete with a improvised coral. That would have been ok except their trash was everywhere and their firepit filthy. I dismantled their pit, their camp and cleaned it up. Then last week I hiked there again and although the camp was still clean and dismantled, there was fresh bear scat everywhere. The bears remembered and were obviously hungry, poking around that space.

    I know SB said its a fine in WY to leave trash, but frankly I’ve seen no patrolling here by FS, nor fines, nor even rangers in the nearby ranger stations for years.

    If we want bears in our ecosystems, then the forest service will have to begin to prioritize, educate, patrol, fine, put rangers in the backcountry and campgrounds and spend less time on timber sales.

    • Save bears says:


      I agree, we need more enforcement and it has to be enforcement with a bite, there is no use having rules and laws, if there is no one to enforce them, unfortunately in the days of dwindling budgets, I don’t know what the answer is..

      Washington DC seems to be mouthing the words, but not taking the action needed..

    • pointswest says:

      I think people are going to get worse as America’s demographics continue to trend in the direction they are now trending. Look at Arizona or California today because they are what Idaho and Montana will look like tomorrow. We have growing classes of uneducated, undisciplined, and disenfranchised people in the US who will not have any regard for ecology, wildlife, or any of minor laws intended to protect them. Desperation, vice, and violence are on the rise as millions of children are raised in single parent homes lacking in love or compassion. Morals and values are giving way to addiction and violence and any traditional American values are diminishing as survival becomes an evermore serious issue. These are the good times and things are steadily getting worse.

    • Leslie says:

      “There is a problem in pointing the finger at hunters or outfitters for bear problems…most maulings take place in or very near National Parks where there is no hunting.”

      PW, There are a few things in Cooke City area that might make Bob Jackson’s point plausible. First there is plenty of hunting here and plenty of gut piles. This coming hunt season will be different though because the quota is way down as our elk herd (Lamar valley summer herd) is suffering from nutritional problems and calfing every other year. From what I understand the quotas are so low that it will probably put the 5 outfitters here out of business.

      The other anomaly about Sunlight/Cooke City area is its a big drop off place for problem bears. Since its close access to the park, they drop bears off here hoping they will go into the Park. Sure some return, but I just bet there are more bears here than habitat.

      In my own mind I’d thought gut piles were maybe a good thing with hungry bears in the fall facing fewer pine nuts to consume. Should I rethink this?

      Also, I think its a good point that those campgrounds up by the Montana border–Chief Joseph, Soda Butte, Colter–could be in a wildlife corridor. To the east are the Beartooths which offer not much habitat for large predators. There is a tiny wolf pack there that doesn’t seem to grow much and stays in the lower area around the Clarks Fork. To the West, through Cooke City, is easy access to the Lamar.

      The elk follow the high country back and forth into the Lamar, from Sunlight through the Cooke City areas. They don’t go up into the Beartooths (a few do) but there is a resident herd now in the foothills around Clark and hwy 120.

    • STG says:

      Excellent comment!

  57. pointswest says:

    I was in my mid twenties and my young girlfriend and I decided to get out of town (Moscow, Idaho) for awhile to go on an overnight campout. We went east of Moscow into the Clearwater Mountains just beyond a village named Elk River. We went 10 or so miles beyond Elk River and finally down an old abandoned logging road in my Baja Bug (car). Northern Idaho is well known for its black bears and I prepared for them including talking my .270 elk rifle. The logging road had not been used for a few decades and was more like a track than a road. It finally ended at a creek in the timber. We camped on the roadbed that was packed hard but, with disuse, was mostly covered with grass and moss. We had a simple dinner of Tuna Helper and I burned all the trash I could and washed up, with biodegradable soap, in the creek. I intended to completely obliterate our campsite and so did not burn the tuna can but intended to carry it out in the morning. I rinsed the can out in the creek and carried it up the road a hundred feet or so and put it in plain site so I did not forget it. The only other food was instant oatmeal sealed in packages for breakfast and it was locked in a cooler inside the car.

    My girlfriend had told me of a campout she had been on as a kid with her church where all the kids slept in sleeping bags under the stars. She woke up at dawn to see a black bear sniffing the other kid’s heads. It was a large black bear but after sniffing a few heads it sauntered off and no one even knew it had been around, except her. She had no fear of bears, but this was in the day when there were no hunting regulations for bears what-so-ever and people regularly shot at and killed them resulting in more timid bears. I was not so carefree about bears and brought my .270 in the tent with us with five rounds in the magazine. She thought I was paranoid and went right to sleep grumbling about the stupid gun. I fell asleep after about an hour.

    Around 2:00AM I began hearing a clink, clink, clink sound that woke me up. It was a familiar sound and I soon realized it was my tuna can that I’d placed up the road a hundred feet or so. I could tell from the direction of the sound that something had moved it off to the side of the road and into the rocks. The clinking sound was the sound of something licking the can and the can banging against the rocks with each lick. It could have been a coyote or maybe something smaller, like a badger, but it had the heavy clank sound of a bear tongue.

    I picked up my rifle and cocked a shell into the chamber, turn on my flashlight, and got out of the tent and walked up to the can. The clinking had stopped and I did not see or hear a thing. All was silent except for the nearby creek. I looked for tracks but none were visible on the hard packed road bed covered with short grass and moss. Whatever it was could have run up that hard packed road without making a sound. I shined the light around a little more, aggressively, and went back to the tent and got into my sleeping bag leaving the shell in the chamber. My girlfriend asked what was going on. When I said that we might have a bear in camp, she just groaned and turned over to go back to sleep. I too realized we were probably safe and knew it was very unlikely that a black bear would bother us in the tent as long as we didn’t have food inside. There were no grizzlies in this area. Still, I did not go back to sleep for awhile.

    Maybe 30 minutes later, the clinking sound returned. I did not want to wake up the girlfriend again to have her treat like some pansy who is afraid of bears. So I laid there in silence listening to the clinking for about another 20 minutes wondering what in the hell a bear might get out of licking a stupid can for so long when the can was fairly clean in the first place. The clinking stopped and I began to listen carefully. I thought if it were a bear, it might try and break into the car where the oatmeal was. With the sound of the nearby creek in the background, there is no way I could hear a bear walk on that hard pack road with the short grass and moss but I defiantly could hear something…some indescribable sound of heavy movement. I then had the sense that something large was just outside of the tent door. The tent had a side door that I was next to so if there was something there, there was only a thin sheet of nylon between me and it. It was not so much of what I could hear as that I could hear the ambient sound of the campsite changing. The tent was only 10 feet from the car and the hard metal side of the car reflected the sound off the creek. That sound changed and became muffled as if some large sound absorbing object moved between my ears and the side of car. I also thought I could feel warmth.

    My hands were on my rifle and I very nearly grabbed it up to wheel it around and fired. Sometimes wounded bears are more dangerous than happy ones, however, and if I missed or there was some other explanation for the strange events, I would have shot the side of my car and my girlfriend would never have let me live it down. The movement stopped. I listened very carefully and felt that I and my girlfriend were being listened to. I would describe it as a listening contest to see who might utter the first sound of fear. After some very tense and totally breathless moments, the warmth slowly move away and the reflected sound off the car return. I felt like I had faced the damn thing off. I did not wake the girlfriend and calmed down after about 30 minutes. I knew if the bear had wanted in the car or in the tent, it would have tried it then and would not be back. I fell asleep in an hour.

    I told the story to the girlfriend the next morning but she only scoffed at my stupidity. I looked thoroughly around the camp for tracks of any kind but on the hard packed road surface with the short grass and moss, there were no tracks, not even my own. I am certain it was a bear just beyond the thin nylon door. …a large bear too. I did not see it and, other than the tuna can, did not really hear it, but I know it was there and was big. I can remember it as if it were last week.

    • Mike says:

      ++Around 2:00AM I began hearing a clink, clink, clink sound that woke me up. It was a familiar sound and I soon realized it was my tuna can that I’d placed up the road a hundred feet or so. I could tell from the direction of the sound that something had moved it off to the side of the road and into the rocks. The clinking sound was the sound of something licking the can and the can banging against the rocks with each lick. It could have been a coyote or maybe something smaller, like a badger, but it had the heavy clank sound of a bear tongue.++

      Why would you leave a tuna can out in the open in the country?

    • pointswest says:

      I burned all the other trash but did not want to burn the can because I intended to take it out. I did forget to bring any kind of trash bag and did not want to burn the can so it would have ashes all over it to get into my car. So I rinsed it pretty well in the creek and set on the road to dry. I put it on the road so I would be sure and see it when I drove out and would not forget to pick it up. I knew it would still have a slight sent but all the tuna and oil was gone. I placed it about 100 feet up the road and out of camp.

      I doubt the can alone brought the bear in camp. Even though we were careful with our cooking and eating, there were probably scents on our cookware and clothes and also at the creek where I washed up. There were probably scents coming from inside the car where the oatmeal and hot chocolate mix were too.

      You cannot eliminate all cooking scents. The best you can do keep them down and make food inaccessible.

    • Angela says:

      Tuna is something you would use to bait wild animals in, lol. I would never bring tuna to bear country! However, it did make a good bear alarm, huh?

    • pointswest says:

      Angela…what food would you bring into “bear country”?

      I have a friend who is a hunting guide and when he baits bears, his favorite most effective food is stale donuts. Bears seem to be very attracted to sugar since one of thier natural food sources is ripe fruit and they can smell it for miles. We had sugar in our camp too. We probably had some sweet drink with dinner. What makes you think the tuna brought the bear in?

      I think tuna in a can is very good food for bear country because it is sealed in the can that has little to no scent. Bears typically cannot bite the cans open and I am speaking from experience on this. I’ve seen bitten cans but tuna cans, at least of the type when this story took place, are hard for them to even pucture. I would normally have burned the open can but did not on this ocassion for reasons mentioned.

      I cleaned the can pretty well. But bears will lick plates or cookware that has been cleaned with soap and water. I have seen it myself and have heard others mention it. In fact, it think it is a common story that someone had a bear in camp licking thier cookware.

    • Angela says:

      pointswest, as I say below–it’s not when it is in the can that is the problem. The problem is that it is very oily stinky fish. We used it to bait track plates.

      When I camped in black bear country, I packed dehydrated meals–pour boiling water in the package, eat, put empty packages into a ziplock bag to pack out, along with used toilet paper and anything else. No dishes and very little garbage, nothing left behind. Now I usually backpack with dried fruit, nuts, and jerky. When you have to carry your food on your back, you don’t usually choose cans, do you?

  58. Robert Hoskins says:


    You must be less cynical than I am. Even if the DNA tests come back negative, where are these now “marked” bears going to go? The PCA is saturated.

    Bob Jackson

    Interesting narrative. I wonder how you would explain the scenario as the agencies are describing it, that the sow grizz attacked in two places on opposite sides of the campground, one victim killed and partially consumed on one side, the other two victims attacked but not killed on the other.


    • bob jackson says:


      I know of no bears that don’t leave the Park in the fall at some time in their life to take advantage of the salmon runs…I mean elk meat buffet happening outside its boundaries. I have followed griz tracks from near the East entrance road all the way to Thorofare…32 miles away. It is like going to mecca for these bears. In Thorofare alone there would be around 300 elk killed every falls 7 week hunt (in the 2 x 25 mile length of the boundary I patrolled). And a good 90% of these elk were at best quick quartered with an average of 75# of food left on these carcasses. Most elk were not even skinned or gutted.

      The boundary is where the outfitters put out up to 2000 # of salt per camp to draw elk out of YNP. (In the “old days-’70’s- it was 15-25 hunters per camp and a thirty per cent success ratio. Now it is a lot higher…like 70 -90). And in those days it was packing out full quarters with just the gut pile and the below knee joint legs. It was not enough food for bears to go for…to be lieing in wait, staying in the area. The ravens, eagles and coyotes cleaned it up pronto. Now they are habituated to gun shots and most of the killing is around those salts. Thus it is worth it to hang around and fight off other bears for the mass of protein left there.

      The north end of the Park is no different. All the outfitters salt. In the N. end it is drier. There, the outfitters mix the salt with soil under the fir trees.

      So what do you think happens in todays hunting? Guides stake out thes salts and watch for elk. The bears are day bedding just inside the park waiting for the next meal. Bang, bang she shot me dead and the bear waits till the guide axes the skull plate and skins the cape. then it moves in. Get enough of this behavior and enough bears hanging around and bears don’t have the patience. Then bears start hanging around the edges of the meadows while the guide skins. If their needs are great like a sow with cubs…and she can’t compete with a boar…she might start charging in on that elk carcass and “chase” the guide and clients off. So what does the guide do but fire off his 44. Works some but then it comes to shooting close to, not just up in the air. Still doesn’t work, the guide brings along a shotgun with birdshot next time.

      Yes, every outfitter in Thorofare knew which bears “had no fear”. Now fast forward and you get a campground in Cooke. THIS is not the same bear of the 60’s where we could take the nurses after the bars closed to find griz in our head lights at every campground around the Lake area. Pelican, Fishing Bridge and Bridge Bay were are wildlife viewing sites in the middle of the night…and we could find griz in those head lights EVERY NIGHT.

      Oh, the buzz and inner excitement these city migrated nurses got. But I digress to other activities …. and need to get back to the discussion of what folks are seeing with food waste all around in F.S. campgrounds today…no different than those in Yellowstone when I first started where there was no such thing as a bear safe garbage can.

      Point sweet I ask you to read some of the bear info out there saying how many griz have old small caliber bullet wounds or bird shot in them.

      Maybe this Cooke sow doesn’t but I bet her mother did. And it all was from don’t care outfitters. And one last thing, one hears the bears need to be hunted to put fear in them. What fear when those hunter habituated bears already know what a bullet feels like.


      If it was the sow and yearlings then I’d say it was some participation by those yearlings. One doesn’t get a bear biting into someone and then leaving when that person plays dead…if that bear wants food. Hell, you have your prey in hand…I mean arm.

      Yearlings wander a bit from their mothers so it could have been going on at two locations…but I’d say the guy killed was first (with cubs close) and the bears moved on no different than at those salts where they don’t go far off after “distractions”…. and then a cub took advantage of what he saw mother do and had a little fun biting and swatting tents. Just a guess …adding a bit of past knowledge in playing out the possible “crime” scene.

      I do know before anybody comes up with supposed reduction needs because of “too many bears”, the hunting community needs to be curtailed a lot to change shot chasing bears behavior. No elk shot should be left unattended and every hunter in bear country should be required to have the means to carry out full quarters…no boning until the bears have enough years to know it doesn’t pay to go to those killing fields.

      Then every site of the elk killing should be flagged to warn others and every trail head should have a map with the hunter required to put that little pin on the spot where he shot it. Hunters will be kicking, dragging and screaming because they all have their “secret” place to hunt but this is what it is going to take to change bear behavior.

      Again, the campground bear of today is not the campground bear of your grand parents. This “killer” bear of Cooke most likey had a lot of outfitter induced reaction going on the night it cooked the folks in Cooke.

    • pointswest says:

      Bob…honestly, I do not like outfitters and do not like most hunters who use their services.

      Where it has been proven that grizzlies can smell carrion from at least 18 miles, I’m sure gut piles draw bears out from the park. I’m sure there are meadows or hillsides where outfitters have learned they can regularly get elk for there clients where grizzlies have also learned that they can regularly find gut piles.

      Why, however, would the bears necessarily associate the gut piles with the scent of humans. The outfitters all use horses. Horses are almost in invariably used to pack out the elk meat. Horses have much more sent and will usually drop manure and urine while being packed with the meat. So you will usually have horse piss and shit near a gut pile. Why would grizzlies not associate the gut piles with the scent of horses too.

      There are humans and the scent of humans all over the Park. I’m sure bears find some food in the Park, such as a lost tuna sandwich, where human scent is nearby. But 95% of the time, they will smell humans and not find food. They will disassociate human scent from food. Horses are relatively few in the Park and will not be associated with anything in the Park. It seems to me that a grizzly is more inclined to associate the gut piles, in particular, with the smell of horses than with the smell of humans.

      The associations a grizzly has between scents and food sources is certainly going to depend on a particular grizzly’s experiences. I cannot see the strong correlation between outfitter gut piles and mauling of humans, however.

      Bears can probably smell food at Cooke City from 15 miles away. If they are hungry enough or maybe just bold enough, they are going t come in.

  59. Robert Hoskins says:

    Ralph and Bob

    Regarding what happens to these bears if there’s not a DNA match, I guess the Old South scenario, a suspect in the hand is worth two in the bush, makes sense. With all the publicity surrounding this event, who’s going to believe it if the agencies say there is no match? If they were moved to the Dubois area, you could hear the Fremont County Commission screaming all the way to Idaho. These bears have no future. I suppose they could be moved to the Park, but that would be just a short term fix. Moving bears just doesn’t work.

    Regarding what happened in the campground, I’ve been wracking my brain to explain it with one bear, and can’t do it. A multiple bear scenario, as Bob suggests, makes more sense, although we’re still left with trying to explain what happened.

    I can see the sow going into the first tent and killing the man from Michigan, dragging him off, and begin eating. What I don’t see is her then leaving the carcass and then moving nearly half a mile across the campground and then attacking two more people without killing them. I can see yearling cubs moving off after the first attack and trying it, and failing. This would mean that the sow probably ate quite a bit of the dead man. I’ve been trying to find out the exact nature of his wounds to find out how much of him was actually eaten.

    If this scenario is correct, what’s still not explained is the predatory behavior in the first place. Stress from a variety of factors? I understand this sow had no previous “history”–had never been captured before. I’m certainly aware of the poor management practices of outfitter camps in the Thorofare–having seen it first hand, although not to the degree that Bob has. I will say the outfitters I’ve worked for on this side of the Divide weren’t guilty of those problems and kept clean camps, moved elk quarters out of the backcountry immediately, etc. There’s something about the culture of Thorofare outfitters that’s different.


  60. Robert Hoskins says:

    Montana FWP is now acknowledging the possibility of a multiple bear scenario. Also the third cub has been trapped.


    • jon says:

      In that article you posted sb, it says the mother bear will be killed. Did the dna results come back yet?

    • Save bears says:

      Not that I heard, from what I have heard, they expect the results to be in this afternoon some time, they have also stated, that evidence on scene has pretty much shown this was the group that did the attacks, but were waiting until the DNA results are in.

  61. Cody Coyote says:

    Today’s Bozeman Daily Chronicle notes the passing by natural causes of grizzly advocate Jim Cole, who survived two grizz maulings and wore the eye patch to prove it… ( lead story 7-30-2010 )

    – maybe this full link will work as well:

    • Save bears says:

      And notice the next story is about the capture of the 4th bear in the fatal attack! Ironic!

  62. STG says:

    I don’t think the grizzly should be killed. She has two cubs. The FWP should relocate her somewhere very remote. As a taxpayer I don’t want to see my money being used to kill grizzly bears when so much has been invested in keeping them alive. Close the damn campgrounds permanently in prime grizzly country. Campgrounds are a joke. People leave dogfood, dirty grills, tootpaste and other scented products . . . .Just because one cannot see any food remains doesn’t mean the scent of food and other items don’t linger for a long time. Bears have an incredible sense of smell.

    Another related problem: the Gallatin National Forest has not implemented or enforced consistently many bear management policies which exist in many forests districts in Wyoming (e.g., installing bearproof food storages bins, garbage cans at campgrounds, educating people at campgrounds). I don’t know about the practices at Soda Butte, but the campgrounds around the area where I live, Bozeman, are an accident waiting to happen–an invitation to bears.

    • Save bears says:

      She has 3 cubs, and anytime a bear shows predatory behavior they are going to destroy it.

      Also there is really no place remote enough that they could relocate her that prevents the chance of a human encounter, bear relocating in not always successful. Bears will often times return to their original location in a matter of days, closing the campground would not prevent the possibility of her showing up in Cooke City and attacking again..

    • Save bears says:

      And to add, this campground does have bear boxes as well as bear proof garbage cans..

    • STG says:

      So what is your solution? As I said, “I didn’t know about the practices at Soda Butte, but the campground where I live, are an accident waiting to happen. . . “

    • Save bears says:

      Until such time a the laws are enforced and the people learn to do all they can protect themselves in bear country, I don’t know that there is a good solution..

      If in fact this was a predatory attack, which signs indicate it was, all of the rules, are not going to stop, this type of attack..

    • jon says:

      It just goes to show you if a bear wants to attack and kill a human for food, it will. All of the hunting seasons in the world on them won’t stop that. One must remember they are called WILD UNREDICTABLE ANIMALS for a reason. One must also remember that a dead bear doesn’t learn to fear humans as some suggest as the bear is dead.

    • jon says:

      She has 3 cubs, and anytime a bear shows predatory behavior they are going to destroy it.

      sb, I watched an interview with Chris Servheen and he said that the cubs will most likely be placed in a zoo. has the dna results come back yet?

    • Save bears says:


      Again, I have not heard anything about the test results and I posted earlier that they might be placing the cubs in zoos, apparently they thing they now have found some facilities..

  63. Cody Coyote says:

    The Soda Butte Campground has plenty of bearproof containers …some resemble tall closets with French Doors. This campground has been hit frequently by bears over the years, and other human-bear conflicts have occurred there..

    By the way , a bearproof food bin installed at a campground costs the USFS at least $ 2500 each, if heard that right from a GS-12 a couple years ago. The backcountry versions cost even more with installation , often done by helicopter.

    • STG says:

      What’s the solution?

    • Robert Bunch says:

      My solution would be to leave these bears alone and post warning signs throughout grizzly country. The signs would have a big skull and crossbones symbol on them and they would say: WARNING!! TURN BACK NOW. MAN-KILLING GRIZZLIES FREQUENT THE AREA. ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK. NO BEARS OR OTHER PREDATORS OR ANIMALS WILL BE HARMED FOR ATTACKING HUMANS. That would keep out about 98% of the people and the hard core 2% would know the score. Then maybe the animals could get some peace

    • pointswest says:

      The problem with disallowing the public from grizzly country is that the public will lose interest in preserving them. Soon, greed will drive land use policy and the timber, livestock, real estate, and mining/extraction industries will destroy grizzly habitat.

  64. jon says:

    Some are blaming the bear attacks on wolves saying that the wolves killed all of the game and that is why the bears attacked those 3 people. lol This is nonsense. Leave it to the wolf haters to bring wolves into a situation like this.

  65. Leslie says:

    I do remember that those campgrounds in the Gallatin have hosts and bearproof cans. BUT just a little down the road is Shoshone national forest. There are no bear proof cans in the campground in Sunlight. Besides, people can camp anywhere they want in a national forest, and do, and leave trash up and down Sunlight basin.

    I recall when I purchased a bear proof trash can from WG&F they told me that they wished all the people in Crandall (nearby to Cooke City) would purchase one but don’t, and bears have to be destroyed on account of it.

    Just last year, I think it was, Park County did their new ordinances and WG&F pushed hard for certain areas all residents must have bear proof trash cans. That ordinance was fought more than any others. You know….”I have my rights to do whatever the hell I want to do and that includes where I put my trash.”

  66. pointswest says:

    In Idaho, Fremont county is considering passing ordinaces…

  67. Virginia says:

    I have said this before and I say it again – the animals are not unpredictable – it is the HUMANS who are unpredictable. Animals are wild and live by instinct – not emotion. We are in their territory camping and cooking – unpredictably.

  68. SEAK Mossback says:

    Some interesting observations and opinions here – particularly about the bear population being condensed at perhaps an unhealthy level in and around the park. That partly a natural phenomenon. Populations tend to increase to what their food and habitat will support, as they Yellowstone grizzly population has, and then tend to run into stress that limits them. The stress grows much more intense when the food supply heads south while the population is high. That situation will eventually self-correct, but it takes on another dimension as far as policy when hordes of people are sharing space with the stressed bears.

    I’m sure many here have heard of or even been to Brooks Camp in Katmai Monument (or maybe it’s a park now). I fished the Brooks River with my mother when I was 12 and you are in thick brush, constantly sharing the same paths, even the same fishing holes with bears. This has gone on for decades of people constantly bumping into bears in thickets with scarcely an injury. However, a friend of mine stayed in the government camp on Brooks Lake at the upper end of the Brooks River during the all-time Bristol Bay sockeye disaster year of 1973. They shot a couple of moose up the lake just outside the monument and had them hanging in a stout shed by the cabin. Bears practically ripped the building apart and hauled them off. Then one broke down their cabin door and walked in got into their garbage basket almost faster than they could climb out of their bunks. They complained to the park ranger who came up and lectured them “The bears were here first, etc., etc.”, but when he tried to go back to his camp the bears wouldn’t let him out of his boat and he had to sit offshore a good part of the night. In that case, fortunately, the food source rebounded quickly in following years and the public did not have to endure years of declining food and stressed bears keying in on every potential food source, dead or alive.

    On the other extreme are polar bears in the Arctic where, if climate and ice forecasters are correct, the stress is just beginning and will last for many decades. In that case it really doesn’t make much sense to try to address direct mortality if downward population adjustment is necessary and inevitable. Of course the ESA doesn’t account for that, and putting out of business the handful of Inuit guides who take U.S. polar bear hunters out on dog sled hunts for several $10,000’s a pop will do absolutely nothing for the population or its outlook – but is no doubt seen as a bonus gi-me by the Center for Biological Diversity, NRDC and others. On the other side of the equation, ironically, the village of Kaktovik has to fend of USFWS concerns about habituating polar bears to whale kills hauled up on the spit at Barter Island. From what I understand, they have made whalers in the Barrow area bury their carcasses and have been making noises about the same at Barter. The bears the carcasses draw at Kaktovik are a major economic source because it draws photographers, film-makers and wildlife viewers well into the fall past the brief 2 ½ month period for Arctic Refuge adventurers. Ironically, if there are still polar bears in Alaska in 50 years, it may be because of whale carcasses on the spit at Barter Island – – but removing that food source is considered a positive by USFWS who oversees the endangered species act while eliminating right now the import of skins from Canada makes perfect sense to them (and is mandatory under ESA).

    The situation with gut piles, wounding loss, etc. is analogous to the whale carcasses. It’s one more food source, regardless of where it comes from, and if it goes away there will be stress and a downward population adjustment – and increased danger to the public while it happens. The same thing happened when the dumps were closed. In that case, NPS hauled them out in yellow bags under helicopters (one of which they off-loaded in a meadow behind my camp on Yellowstone Lake). When the bears returned to the campgrounds, they killed them.

    As far as public policy, it’s tricky. Cody Coyote said maybe it’s time to hunt them again. However, if infanticide by males is an important population regulation mechanism in GY as it is in some areas, then at some level you might end up spurring recruitment and population growth rather than curtailing it. Replacing older males that are independent and competent at foraging with more younger bears may not solve that problem. Of course , that may not be too much of an issue because some cubless sows will would be taken too (I think the harvest on Kodiak is about 25% females). The other approach is to quickly remove bears that are beginning to cause conflict or frequent populated areas, somewhat like NPS did during the great post-dump purge. That would be more effective in addressing the human safety angle, but runs against (A) the desire by some here to remove only bears that have been tried and found guilty and (B) the desire by some to see grizzlies continue to expand their range, because it would tend to concentrate mortality in the outer parts of GYE where potential expansion occurs. That would defeat Cody Coyote’s other point about being “W-A-A-A-Y past the time to expand the grizzly bear’s range in all directions” (i.e. increasing access to habitat/food rather than just restricting population). Expanding the area they can move into addresses part of the problem if it can be done, but ultimately there will be limits set by food resources. Perhaps Cody Coyote was thinking about hunting only in the high density and food stress areas right around the park while protecting bears trying to move out beyond that area?

    Area expansion is one question. A starting point in addressing the other question regarding the box they currently live in is to evaluate the food sources and figure what the long-term trends are likely to be, i.e. a 1-year crisis like Bristol Bay sockeye or a decades or centuries long one like loss of sea ice? A 1-year crisis might be dealt from the public policy side to keep them separate or safer from bears during the period of stress. A protracted downward trend in food sources, starting with a dense bear population, could get pretty ugly and may entail consideration of thinning the population in concert with the decrease in food rather than leave it all to stress. Easy to say but controversial and difficult to do effectively, as is often the case in our efforts to manage ecological systems.

    • pointswest says:

      Wow! It is so refreshing reading someone’s comments whose knowledge of wildlife did not come from summer visits to the Park and reading the web!

      I agree with or believe everything you wrote. My only added comment is that part of the challenge in preserving these large predators in the lower 48 states is that the public needs to enjoy seeing them or interacting with them somehow.

      Anyone one interested in this subject should watch the Ken Burns series ‘The National Parks: America’s Best Idea’ and understand the lengths that Stephan Mather, the first director of the National Parks, went to get the public to visit and/or otherwise participate in the National Parks. We take this American phenomena of camping out for granted today. It is still uncommon in Europe. Mather knew that the National Park’s success hinged upon public and political support because there were several private interest (i. e. ranching/timber/mining) that were dead set against them.

      The answer is not going to be just herding the people out when the large predators are undergoing a die-off and desperately killing anything they can.

  69. Cody Coyote says:

    Friday afternoon: The sow grizzly has been euthanized. DNA confirms she was the perp.

    The cubs have been requested by ZooMontana in Billings. No decision yet, but it sounds like they may be “pardoned”.

    • jon says:

      Feel bad for the mom, but atleast the cubs won’t be killed. Thanks for the update Cody!

    • Save bears says:

      Although not the best fate, but probably the only fate in this situation, I am glad to see they may go to Zoo Montana and perhaps allow educational opportunities in the future..

      I do hope they fully investigate this incident and publish the results, because this one is a very odd incident…A sow with cubs going predatory…this one will rewrite the books..

    • Leslie says:

      Yes, I feel bad for that mom too. But in this case it was the right thing to do. It will be very interesting to see what, if anything, they learn from the autopsy.

      You know, this is one euthanized bear that got lots of attention because of the odd and alarming circumstances. But there are many every year that are euthanized for killing cattle etc. and they get no publicity.

    • jon says:

      sb, you never heard of a case like this, a grizzly mom with cubs going predatory on people? I am sure this has or may have happened in the past. Situations like this I believe will happen every now and then, but I believe they are rare. Wild animals sometimes amaze us with the things they do. Things we sometimes thought were never thought possible. Check out this video.

    • Save bears says:


      I have read only one other account of a sow with cubs going predatory and that happened in Glacier in 1967 and that was a bear that had been habituated to human garbage and had glass embedded in her teeth…

      This is such a rare event, that I have never read an account of this nature, and as I said, the books will be rewrote over this one..

  70. Nancy says:

    Pointswest said: “I agree with or believe everything you wrote. My only added comment is that part of the challenge in preserving these large predators in the lower 48 states is that the public needs to enjoy seeing them or interacting with them somehow”

    And my question is why PW, the human species should feel the need to “preserve” other species, who, by the way, managed to get by just fine until our species started gobbling up the landscape?

    Not dishing mankind, I’m a part of it, but I am getting really tired of the lame excuses when less and less landscape is available year after year, and even less tolerance gets mustered up for wildlife, because of their reaction to a decline in their natural habitat.

    • pointswest says:

      I don’t understand the quesiton. You are saying we should not preserve wildlife but just let them roam free in farm fields and city streets?

  71. Rita K. Sharpe says:

    Thank you for the update,Cody.

  72. STG says:

    I just heard on the news that the grizzly was killed. What’s accomplished?

    • jon says:

      Nothing, 3 orphaned cubs who have to spend the rest of their lives in a zoo. That is better than being dead. I was going thru the comments on each website that had the story up and surprisingly, A LOT of people didn’t want any of the bears killed. I believe some even made calls to Montana fwp wanting all of the bears released back into the wild.

    • Save bears says:

      Killing a predatory bear only accomplishes the fact that this bear will not do it again, and there is no other goal when this happens..

  73. Layton says:

    “but I’d say the guy killed was first (with cubs close) and the bears moved on no different than at those salts where they don’t go far off after “distractions”

    So much for theories — just saw a video that showed the first guy that was attacked – he’s alive and just nicked up a bit – and they played the 911 tape with him talking and saying that he could hear a woman screaming as she was evidently being attacked.

  74. Robert Hoskins says:


    How do you know this was the first guy attacked? How does he know he was the first guy attacked? How does the reporter know?

    You’d make a lousy detective.


    • Layton says:


      Since this guy was alone (at least the only one attacked where he was camped), and the other two people attacked were together, and he could hear one of them screaming while being attacked while he was making his 911 call, it would seem like he was the first.

      Of course feel free to keep theorizing, why try to get any facts into the mix??

    • JEFF E says:

      (This is my opinion)
      All four bears participated in the attack an d death of Mr Kammer, with the sow of course the primary aggressor.
      This is backed up by these statements, “Evidence indicates all three cubs likely participated in what Warden Capt. Sam Sheppard called a sustained attack on Kevin Kammer of Grand Rapids, Mich. He was pulled out of his tent and dragged 25 feet and at least one of the bears fed on his body” and “Fibers from a tent or sleeping bag were in the captured bears’ droppings,…” (notice bears is used in the plural sense in the second statement)
      As the bear, evidently the sow,(and possibly one cub) was feeding , at least two of the cubs(males?) spread out in the campsite and, in my opinion, two of the three, were responsible for the other two attacks, mimicking what the sow had just taught them.
      Consider these two statements:
      “When he felt the bear biting his leg, he started punching the animal, she said. His girlfriend screamed, and the bear ran away.”
      “It was behind me and I screamed. I couldn’t help it — it’s kind of like somebody else was screaming,” she told The Associated Press. “And then it bit me harder, and more. It got very aggressive and started to shake me. I decided at that point, the only other thing I knew to do was to play dead, and I just went totally limp, got very quiet, didn’t make a sound. And a few seconds later, the bear dropped me and walked away,” she said.
      These two statements seems to point to two different bears. One became more aggressive when the woman fought back and screams, while another runs away at a nearly identical set of circumstances.
      At about tht time the whole campground is in an uproar scaring all four bears off.
      Anyway, that is my Sherlock moment for the day.

  75. STG says:

    I am sure everyone feels sadness for the loss of human life. Why polarize the issue into a false debate of either caring for the humans or the wildlife? Trying to guilt trip people who comment on this website by insinuating that they don’t care about human is ludicrious and hostile Moreover, this kind of criticism does not enhance the discussion of the topic, rather it is a deflection. This is a wildlife site and I imagine most peole who comment here are passionate about wildlife and habitat conservation.

  76. STG says:

    I am sure everyone feels sadness for the loss of human life. Why polarize the issue into a false debate of either caring for the humans or the wildlife? Trying to guilt trip people who comment on this website by insinuating that they don’t care about humans is ludicrous and hostile. Moreover, this kind of criticism does not enhance the discussion of the topic, rather it is a deflection. This is a wildlife site and I imagine most people who comment here are passionate about wildlife and habitat conservation. (corrected)

  77. Robert Hoskins says:


    You need to get YOUR facts straight. The man who was killed was on the west side of the campground, the two survivors, a young man and a middle aged woman, were on the east side of the campground, fairly close together. The young man reported that he heard the woman screaming, not the deceased. As yet we have no report that anyone heard the dead man screaming. It is likely that the deceased was the first attacked.

    Just another example of how you don’t pay attention to the facts.


  78. TC says:

    I’ve been reading and thinking about this and it’s time to move on IMO. There are no winners here, just losers. Dead gentleman from Michigan on a fly-fishing trip he’d looked forward to for a long time, wife and children left behind and struggling with this, traumatized people attacked by one of the bears, dead sow, cubs destined to live out life in a zoo, public hysteria, and no rhyme or reason for what happened – an apparently good bear gone (from a human perspective) very bad and no real merit to arguing what that means or what should have happened to her or her cubs. Part of me wishes the photo of her in the culvert trap had not been released, but that’s neither here nor there. The precise sequence of events, timing of events, course of action, and who says what after the fact really don’t matter in the end. People choose to camp in grizzly country because they want to, and knowing it or not, they assume certain risks when doing so. Thankfully I’ve read nothing from any of the victims or their families pointing fingers, not at the bears themselves, not at other campers, not at FS or other agency personnel, and I haven’t read anything to suggest people did the wrong things, behaved badly in bear country, ignored common-sense rules. Pending any unusual findings from the necropsy (and I expect none), time to let this go, remain vigilant and obey the rules in bear country, educate others about proper behavior in bear country, and make your own personal decisions about the level of risk you’ll accept while enjoying wild spaces, wild places, and wild animals. Sometimes bad things just happen and we learn what we can, move on, and continue to enjoy those pursuits that bring us happiness and that we value highly. This is not like the Kitty Creek event, this is just sad. Let it go.

  79. Nancy says:

    “People choose to camp in grizzly country because they want to, and knowing it or not, they assume certain risks when doing so.”

    Well put TC.

    Its the “knowing it or not” that needs to be addressed as wildlife and their habitat continues to disappear, while humans seek out the “last best places” to enjoy.

    • Salle says:


    • pointswest says:

      I have to say that there has been a movement in the past few decades of people calling themselves environmentalists or wildlife experts with an extreme view that nature is intrinsically perfect, good, and pure and that evil in the world is strictly confined to humanity. They’ve been publicly preaching that large predators, such as grizzlies, do not naturally prey upon humans and that any attacks on humans by grizzlies were due to misconduct by humans in spite of ample evidence to the contrary. They have preached or raved that in nearly all grizzly attacks, it was the evil human who confused the bear with food or with threat and that they practically forced the bear attack upon themselves. This preaching and raving about natural purity has led many young Americans into a false sense of security in grizzly country and now we have adult Americans who regularly hike and camp in grizzly country without protection or caution of any kind.

      With more grizzlies in Yellowstone and more people with the nature-as-purity viewpoint, I’m sure we are going to see several more deaths until the self-appointed preachers are finally silenced.

  80. bob jackson says:


    One time while riding along the East shore of Yellowstone Lake I saw a number of bear tracks going right angle to the trail. So of course I followed them and a couple hundred yards inland in a bunch of fir I saw a very beat up …and very illegal campsite. The bears had spread everything from a hatchet to boxes of 9mm pistol ammo around in a hundred yard circle.

    I actually thought I might find the body of that illegal horn hunter. But nobody was home when the bears attacked. What they did do was rip into a lot of those chaw type tuna cans you think are indestructable. The bites were pretty much the same …two teeth on each side of the wide part of the can…to then “split” both sides apart…to expose the meat.

    And yes, I have seen them get into a number of sardine cans. In fact every kind of can one can think of…from little beenie weenie cans, to gallon cans of cherry pie filling, to pints of motor oil at the Canyon gas station to 55 gal barrels of horse feed. I have even seen the results to cast iron skillets…a hole in the bottom…somehow.

    And as far as a bear having problems dividing the smell of horses and humans even indigenous humans could differentiate between horses with and without those saldo riders.

    And bears can even think…and put reasoning and association together…like in hunters going …Bang, bang my baby shot me dead. we rode horses made of sticks, he wore black and I wore white…Bang bang he shot me down, bang bang I hit the ground, bang bang that awful sound, bang bang, he didn’t even say goodby, he didn’t even take the time to lie, bang bang he shot my brother elk and left him to die…and feed the bears who then fed on me. Bang bang…the bears can figure it out.

    • pointswest says:

      We used to camp every summer on Yellowtone lake in the 60’s in a hard shell trailer and had bears in camp all the time…every night, in fact…or even in the day. Many bears lived in the Yellowstone camp grounds in those days. In additon to our Yellowstone Lake trips, we camped in the Yellowstone area, especially in Island Park…many times each summer. I’ve been around lots of bears and seen lots of bear damage too. They usually leave can goods alone. I too have seen crushed cans and I’ve seen a few puctured and partially opened by a bear. They can get into sardine cans pretty easily and can pucture and partially open larger soup sized cans. I only said they tend not to get into cans and I am sticking by that. I’m sure, however, a large grizzly or even a large black bear could open a tuna can if it was so motiviated. I have just never seen it and I’ve seen lots of grub boxes and back packs strewn all over the forest. The canned goods are usually intact…except I agree they will usually try and open a sardine can. They must not be sealed very well and the bear can smell the sardines.

      So what food would you take into “bear country”?

      I am sure bears have some power of reasoning and I’m sure that they can divide the smell of horses from humans. You may be right in some cases about gut piles leading to bear attackes on humans but I doubt it is a leading cause.

    • pointswest says:

      You know, you are saying bears are smart enough to figure out men are hunting and leaving gut piles but on the other hand they are not smart enough to know that camper in a camp ground are not hunters and have no gut piles. You can’t have it both ways…they cannot reason in the once case and not reason in the other.

    • Angela says:

      Tuna in a can is not a problem. The problem comes when you open it 😉

    • pointswest says:

      Angela…I will ask you again, what kind of food is NOT a problem?

      Can you be a little a little less dogmatic and more scientific on your condemnation of tuna.

      I think you are just making it up. There is nothing wrong with tuna in bear country. Why is it worse than anything else. Your repeating things does not make them true.

    • Angela says:

      I’m making up the fact that tuna is a very oily smelly fish that can be used to bait wild animals? Have you ever had a pet cat? I think my tuna rule stems from a memory of going to work with a new biologist in the Tongass. Helicoptered to the muskeg patch where we were to camp and regardless of the fact that we had all just talked about the importance of keeping food away from the immediate area of the tents, the first thing she did was start cooking some type of tuna casserole stuff right next to her tent. In literally about 10 minutes, a big black bear appeared at the edge of the forest following the trail of tuna smell with its nose just like in a cartoon. I thought it would be a good idea if we made a lot of noise to scare it away, so we stood up and banged on pans and yelled at it. But that bear could not stay away from the smell. There was no radio reception, so I had to climb the nearest hill until I could call our heli pilot. He made another trip to drop off a 12-ga and the bear went away when the helicopter made all that noise.

    • pointswest says:

      So you have one story of a bear that came into camp because someone was cooking tuna. So that proves that having tuna in bear country is a bad idea? Thank you for that bit of hard fraught and extremely reliable insight.

      You still have not answered my question about what **IS** a good food to have in bear country and I have asked three times now. At least tuna is sealed in a can and has virtually no scent until you open it. In the case of my story, we opened the can and poured it directly into the cooking pan full of mostly water and started eating it in 20 minutes. So the tuna was immediate immersed in water and only produced scent for 20 minutes and this 20 minute period was four hours before the bear showed up.

      As long as tuna is fresh, I do not believe it has any more scent than any other meat. Fish, in general, can have a lot of scent when it is exposed to air because fish tissues has no natural defense against airborne bacteria as does the tissue of terrestrial animals and so fish tissues spoils quickly when exposed air and the bacteria produces strong odor. Tuna that is in a can, however, and is fresh and has been precooked.

      I think the worst food for attracting bears has to be powdery sugar in the form of cool aide or Gatorade or instant oatmeal or instant cocoa or instant punch all of which are staples for the outdoor crowd. The powdered sugar gets carried away in the air sticks to all the surrounding leaves, grasses, and rocks where it can put up powerful scent. Bears go nuts over sugar. I believe the most common bear bait for bear hunters is sugar of some kind but you can do a Google search on “best bear bait” to verify this. Four out of five will suggest sugar of some kind.

      You should have tried to make me culpable for the bear’s actions because we had cool aid with our dinner…not the tuna.

  81. bob jackson says:


    It is the actions outfitters, guides and hunters do that makes this bear a different bear than a campground bear.

    Plus these “defensive” actions concern a much greater and urgently needed food source than what a bear gets in a campground.

    The stakes are a lot higher with game food sources thus one ends up with a bear that is a LOT more aggresive and willing to go to the next level.

    And yes, native americans had the same game food source problem with griz pre gun. Griz would terrorize some of these camps. Then maybe 6 braves would go out and try and kill that bear. Usually they lost 1 or 2 of their comrades in getting these bears..

  82. Miensa says:

    Cooke City, they are probably scrambling a clean up as we speak, but it is pretty “trashy” soooo maybe she wasn’t being predatory. Maybe she was sniffing for food came upon the first tent, was attracted to some smell, woke the man up who startled her and she attacked. She didn’t “eat” the man, she defused what she thought was a threat or whatever had startled her and whatever it was fought back and she did what bears do. Now she is at a heightened sense of alarm because of the cubs and it turned into a “rampage”. Just a thought.
    It’s the boy who lived that I would be interested in. I’ve been too busy to keep up with all of the articles but I will give it go this afternoon.

    • Save bears says:

      Actually all of the officials that were on scene have stated the man was partially consumed and possibly fed upon by the cubs as well…

      The man was drug 25 feet away from his tent and then they started to feed on him..

  83. Linda Hunter says:

    Just read this whole post. . takes a while. Some really good points here. For me, the bottom line is that bears who are hungry do not have a “sense of humor”. My book talks about bears who are around human camps all the time and do not tear up people, however, the big difference is that they have plenty plenty of good quality natural foods. They say that a fed bear is a dead bear but I have always wondered at what point that no longer becomes true. A starving bear lacking in the nutrition it needs to survive who finds a human meal is indeed dangerous as a human would also be if they found a source of food when in survival mode. IF the bears in this area are finding it hard to find what they need in their short eating season, perhaps to keep them from killing people we need to take a hard look at what it is they are lacking to eat and see if we can solve that. Nobody is safe camping around bears who have health “issues” caused by lack of proper food anywhere. If the gut piles of hunters is the best food these bears get in that area then we are indeed creating monsters there. I can easily picture a mother bear and three yearling cubs running amok and urging each other on with nervous, hungry energy where people are screaming and things are easy to rip and push over. An autopsy may find out more about the mother . . yearling cubs will pretty much do anything in my experience that they think they can get away with, especially if mom does it. Again, I think it is really important for us to adapt to having the bears around as we yet know relatively little about them. . but we do need to learn enough to co-exist and if that means that where people and bears co-exist we take measures in this land of human changed landscaped to make sure the bears have enough food. It is also a factor that female bears have delayed-implantation. In other words the results of mating do not take effect until the mother has sufficient fat and fuel to have cubs, so the foods in an area also dictate how many cubs are born. I believe that there is enough research on bear biology that someone could figure out how to keep a happy bear population without increasing that population unnaturally. I agree with Bob Jackson that there is always a factor somewhere when things like this happen . . perhaps this family had a traumatic run in with humans that day in some way and were hungry. I hope investigators look at a wide range of possibilities and that the findings are communicated to the public so we can avoid more of these accidents.

    • jon says:

      I believe someone said the grizzly mom was in good shape, so why she decided to eat a human will never be clear. Unless maybe she was starving or she just wanted to kill something that didn’t take a lot of hard work and feed her cubs. At the end of the day, I don’t think anyone will truly know why that momma grizzly decided to eat a human. i myself find it odd that anyone would camp in bear country and not have some sorta protection with them. There is no fence that keeps wildlife out, so why camp in bear country to begin with if you know there are things out there that can kill you and eat you? The sleeping man clearly was an easy meal for the momma grizzly.

    • Save bears says:

      I will say, my camping choices will not change because of this incident, the odds are still in your favor hat you will not be killed by a bear…this is a very rare and unusual incident..

    • jon says:

      sb, I sent you an email, did you get it?

    • Save bears says:


      yes I did and I will try to get back to you later today or on Monday

  84. Save bears says:

    In my opinion, one of the most important parts of this investigation will be the results of the necropsy, what physical condition was the sow in, how was the fats as well as lean meat samples showing…that will let us know if she was getting the proper nutrition for this time of year. Was there any physical factors that could have caused her to go rouge, brain anomalies , injuries, etc.

    I will be interested in how the Zoo accesses the health of the cubs and hope they release that information as well, that will give a more complete knowledge of what was going on with this bear family. Just the fact she was a sow with three yearling cubs, would suggest she and the cubs were not in if they were starving, perhaps something has changed drastically in the last month, but without that basic information, it will be hard to ascertain why this happened..and again, I hope they are fully transparent and release all information pertaining to this incident.

  85. Miensa says:

    Well, I’m stunned! That is NOT normal behavior. Look forward to some coffee and a lot of reading on this. WOW! I thought it was abnormal behavior before, this is just unreal…

    • Save bears says:

      It is very unusual behavior!

    • pointswest says:

      I disagree.

      It is just behavior inconsistent with the dilusions the self-appointed environmentalists and wildlife experts have built up over the past couple of decades.

      I have several relatives who live in Cardston, Canada not far from Glacier Park and can remember them laughing at the explanations by the so called experts on grizzly attacks. I heard it said many times by my father, by my uncles, and by others familar with bears that to a bear, humans are no differnt than sheep. They will simply kill and eat humans for food. I’ve heard this since the 60’s. It was said of attack on Hebgan Lake near West Yellowstone in the 80’s.

      It is silly for me to hear these expressions of disbelief.

    • Linda Hunter says:

      Pointswest you seem to have a lot of outdoor experience but I have one question to ask you. Have you ever looked into the eyes of a grizzly/brown bear up close and personal? My observations and expectations of bears comes from personal experience and not brainwashing from any organization or individual. The whole reason I spent four summer seasons up close and personal with bears was to understand them for myself without anyone else telling how to think about them. I found bears to be a very complex animal capable of many more thought processes than we give them credit for. As a matter of fact I have known some guides who work in the industry who I would say could use a little bear intelligence to run their daily lives. . this is not an insult to dull guides but rather a comparison made in the field.

    • Save bears says:


      I have never expressed disbelief at all, I know it will happen, but it happens rarely, so it is unusual behavior, if it was the norm ,we would heard about people being attacked, killed and eaten a lot more than we do.

      Now I am not a self appointed expert, I am a college educated scientist, I am also a very well experienced outdoors person, who has been hanging in the woods for over 40 years now, I am a hunter, a fisherman, a camper and have done a lot of photography work over the last 40 years.

      So what is it with you dissing the scientific community all of the time?

    • Save bears says:

      I will also add, my wife’s family came to Montana is the late 1800’s, many of them have guided for a living in Western Montana for decades and even they are saying this is unusual behavior based on their decades of experience being around grizzlies..

    • Miensa says:

      Humans kill and eat other humans too, it is absolutely not normal, except in some indigenous communities . If it were, our populations would be nice and comfy and so would the bears.
      Your repugnance to “self appointed naturalist” and so on may just stem from you trying to elevate yourself it seems. Without getting into a match with you, I want to reiterate that bears and people can live peacefully among one another just fine and every now and then, RARELY, there is an incident that is out of the ordinary. It is out of the ordinary because it doesn’t happen often, period. So no matter what any “expert” says, it is what it is. It’s unusual behavior. Unless you know a “guerrilla group” of bears hiding out in the bush then my point stands tall.
      Don’t be silly.

  86. JEFF E says:

    Lightning is of far more concern.
    “From 1980 to 2002, more than 62 million people visited Yellowstone, spending roughly 17 million camping hours in the park, according to Kerry A. Gunther of the park’s Bear Management Office. Over that time, 32 were injured in encounters with bears, resulting in a ratio of 1.4 injuries per year from bear attacks.

    Thus, one’s chances of being hurt by a bear at Yellowstone (assuming a similar number of camping hours per year) are approximately 1 in 2 million.

    By comparison, the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are 1 in 500,000, according to figures provided by the National Weather Service. And the chance of being struck by lightning over the course of an 80-year lifespan is 1 in 6,250.

    Rates for bear attacks vary depending on whether one sticks to more populated areas of Yellowstone or ventures into less-charted regions (though Soda Butte is not considered the latter).”

    • pointswest says:

      Geese…so far in Yellowstone this summer, there have been a couple of drownings and a couple of fatal road accidents, I believe. In the tri-state area of Yellowstone, there are typically several hundred traffic fatalities each year.

  87. pointswest says:

    SB… I was not refering to you but “experts” my father, my uncles, and family friends used to scoff at. You seem to be one of the more level-headed people on this blog IMHO.

    Linda…I have been very close to grizzlies in the West Yellowstone dump…feet away while I was inside of a truck, many times. I’ve seen them in Yellowstone Park from as close as 50 yards. I had one steal a dead deer from me while hunting and later came into my solo camp at night. I’ve seen them in zoos in Seattle, in San Diego, and here in LA…maybe in Phoenix and Albuquerque too. I was very, very close to some European Brown Bears for about an hour just after a circus in Albuquerque.

    I agree they are complex and relatively intelligent. They have a common ancestor with canids (dog family) and the lines only separated about 25 millions years ago. Bears are probably at least as intelligent as dogs.

    Dogs will kill and eat people too.

  88. Robert Bunch says:


    According to Jeff E’s post the chances of being injured by a bear in any given year in Yellowstone, based on Yellowstone bear manager Kerry Gunther’s comments, are one in 2 million. That is injured, not eaten. Based on that and the fact that I haven’t heard any incidents of bears eating humans lately, and I think I would have since the media sensationalizes these kinds of things, I have to conclude human predation by bears is not just rare but extrememly rare.

    To sum it all up to me it is silly to hear your dogmatic and un-scientific assertions that predatory bear
    behavior is NOT unusual! You sound like you might be one the human species of Pompousitus Knowitallus.

  89. JEFF E says:

    i ma as well be first,
    seems to me if the cubs are malnourished the hair would be among the first things to go. I wonder if the late spring with significant amounts of snow even a few weeks ago have any thing to do with it.

  90. Nancy says:

    Miensa said: I want to reiterate that bears and people can live peacefully among one another just fine and every now and then, RARELY, there is an incident that is out of the ordinary.

    I think Timothy Treadwell could attest to that comment if he had not become a casualty of one of those rare incidents. I understood from the documentary, the bear that killed him and his girlfriend, was underweight going into late fall.

    If these cubs were indeed malnurished, the mother may also have health problems, which could of put her in a desperate situation.

    • Save bears says:

      The bear that killed Tim and his girlfriend was at the end of its run, it had been captured and tattooed in the past, but it was an old bear, that was underweight…

  91. Nancy says:

    Thanks SB. Its been awhile since I saw the documentary, I just recall the bear not being in good health. Have they estimated the age of this sow yet? And, are year old cubs still nursing?

    • Save bears says:

      Th only reports I have hear today, is the zoo biologist said they were malnourished, I have heard nothing further so far..

  92. jon says:

    Read this article when you get the chance and let me know your opinion on it sb.

  93. SAP says:

    Just a couple observations that I hope aren’t redundant:

    1) This attack has at least superficial similarities with a female-with-cub “rampage” in Banff NP in September 1995. Scott McMillion discusses it in Chapter 3 / “Big Trouble in Banff” in his book, Mark of the Grizzly. Six injured, no dead; DNA testing was not so advanced 15 years ago so officials killed the wrong bears in the aftermath.

    The real culprit was a known food-conditioned bear translocated out of Revelstoke, BC. As I said, the similarities are superficial because the Cooke City female was evidently not a known problem bear (not discounting Bob Jackson’s excellent analysis of how this could have been a problem bear, just not known to officials).

    2) Many of us, I’m sure, have watched family groups of grizzlies foraging their way across the landscape. Mother goes after a marmot of starts excavating gopher tunnels; cubs observe; next thing you know, the cubs are fully engaged in the same behavior. Not too hard to imagine this family group doing the same thing with a campground full of tents.

    3) Also worth recalling the “Kelty” bear (1999) and others that engaged in tent smashing. (see Who knows why they do this, other than curiosity and sheer fun (think of popping bubble wrap, stomping puffball fungi in the woods, other pastimes . . .)

    Combine hunger, curiosity, and the inducement of a predatory motor sequence once the tent’s occupant begins to struggle a little (think housecat attacking your toes; dog pouncing on a vole), and it’s pretty easy to imagine a casual bump or exuberant tent-smashing turning into a fatal mauling.

    Someone mentioned the Hebgen Lake 1983* fatality (Roger May of Wisconsin); that was a large male grizzly (#15) known to be food conditioned and sometimes aggressive toward people (this bear kept the late Bart Schleyer up a tree for several hours in the backcountry one night; he responded aggressively to a homeowner who caught him in the garbage the day before the Roger May death).

    Tom McNamee (in “The Grizzly Bear”) writes that Roger May was sleeping against the wall of his tent (evidently this info came from his surviving friend who was in the same tent) and that Bear 15 may have bumped up against him while sniffing around the campground in search of food.

    We’ll never know quite so much about the terrible fate of Kevin Kammer, as he was alone in his tent.

    There is no way to completely prevent this kind of disaster; the best we can do is reduce the risk of it happening. Twenty-four years (Bill Tensisky, Hayden Valley, 1986 was the most recent GYE bear-caused fatality til 2010) without a fatality is fairly remarkable, especially considering that the grizzly population has grown substantially since then.

    *I see where FWP has mentioned the Roger May fatality to the press:

    “In 1987, a bear pulled a camper from a tent near West Yellowstone and partially ate him, Aasheim said. But in that case, the man had not been as diligent about storing his food, he said.”

    Wrong year, and WAY off base WRT the victim’s food storage practices. Bear 15 was very food conditioned and was getting anthropogenic food rewards all over the neighborhood right up to the attack on May, but not FROM May.

    Stephen Herrero (Bear Attacks, p70) writes of May and Ted Moore: “A board of inquiry report concluded that they [May & Moore] had taken all recommended procedures for careful camping in bear country.”

  94. Allen says:

    I have had a rule which has served me well to avoid grizzly bear attacks the past 45 years in Montana and Wyoming. My wife and I do not camp in tents in Glacier and Yellowstone Parks or near their outer boundaries. As nearly as I can remember all the bear predation situations on people have been in those localities. The man who was killed on the Blackfoot-Clearwater Wildlife Management Area of Montana was probably killed because the bear wanted the elk he was gutting out. I have tent camped many years outside the parks including one time for five years, 8 months a year doing grizzly bear research on the Rocky Mountain Front of Montana.

    Utilizing radio collared bears I found that some bears checked almost every well utilized campsite in the backcountry. So I always try to camp in a new site that is clean. USFS regulations make that hard to do in this area.
    I like bigger, sturdy tents with space around my sleeping bag. I always keep a .44 mag loaded with 330 grain Garrett loads and a pump shotgun with slugs, or a 45:70 with Garrett 540 grain loads or a pump 30:06 with 220 grain loads handy by the side of the open sleeping bag along with a couple of flashlights. I have scared off a number of grizzlies and black bears with gun fire but have not had to kill one.

    I am always very alert for the sounds of bears and also always listening for horse bells. When I didn’t hear the bells I am up looking to see where the horses are. A horse or two tied up in camp with a bell on them is a good bear alarm system and the alarmed horse creates a big racket. I still like to tent camp but my wife prefers our Arctic Fox 5th wheel. I know that bears can get in a camper also. A grizzly ripped all the metal off one side of a MT FG camp trailer on the North Fork Flathead River which was being used for black bear research headquarters in 1963.

    The Many Glacier Area of Glacier park had many bear depredation problems and now campers sleep in fenced compounds to avoid the bears. My office mate in wildlife graduate school in Bozeman in the early 1960’s was the chief biologist for over 20 years in Glacier National Park. He would not allow his family to camp or hike in the park because of the bear danger.

    • Save bears says:


      That is news to me, I just camped in Many, on Monday and Tuesday and we didn’t have any electric fences around the campground, please elaborate?

    • SAP says:

      Don’t know about GNP, but Parks Canada has put a big fence with an electrified “Texas Gate” (that’s Canadian for “cattle guard”) around the Lake Louise campground:

      Lake Louise cg was the site of the multiple-victim mauling by a female grizzly in 1995.

  95. Miensa says:

    Allen, I’m surprised you even drive a car. No disrespect, but man, why bother!
    Fenced areas in Many Glacier? When did they start that? Really?

    • Allen says:


      I do not recall the exact year the fenced compounds were put in at Many Glacier. It may have occurred shortly after one of four Missoula college girls was ripped out of a tent and eaten by a couple of bears.

      Are you aware that the schools at Wapiti, Wy and Dupuyer, MT have had to put up grizzly proof fences to protect the school kids?

      I don’t own a car. I prefer larger trucks which are safer especially in places like Bozeman and Jackson. I avoid large cities. We don’t have a stoplight in our large county. I don’t know your background but I have traveled many thousands of miles in mountain backcountry and classified wilderness as a wildlife management and research biologist, cattle rancher and 20 year general outfitter plus personal hunting and recreation.

    • jon says:

      Allen, can I get your take on the wolf/elk situation? Where you hunt, are you seeing any elk at all? Do you believe wolves are wiping out all of the elk herds like some claim?

  96. Miensa says:

    Oh no, I wasn’t questioning your credentials. I don’t think bears care. Biologist and campers taste the same I imagine. I think it’s impressive, if that matters.
    I have camped at Many, well, many times, I guess I camp in the back country, sometimes alone. I have never seen fencing in Many is all. I have camped in St. Mary at the actual camping areas but still, have never seen a fence.
    Yeah, schools in my neighborhood have fencing with tarps due to “predators” and “pedophiles”. LOL!
    That I understand, keeping schools safe from wildlife.
    I don’t know that if I took as many precautions as you do, i would really enjoy myself in that environment I guess. Course, I enjoy a challenge and some adrenalin at times and i know the dangers and I like being a part of nature and not separate from it. Stuff happens anywhere ya go. Otherwise, I’d stay in the city. I take precautions, like carrying Bear Spray and using bear safety as much as possible for the bears, not so much myself. Not saying I want to be a snack, but it could happen. Like I said stuff happens, in your truck or out. ;0)
    To each his own.

  97. Allen says:


    You are straying off the topic a little so I will mention that in SW MT where we have high numbers of grizzlies and wolves the elk are in big trouble. For example the elk on the Upper Gallatin River dropped from 1,500 in 2005 to less than 200 in 2009 due to the combined predation. Resident elk on the Upper Madison in YNP where there is no hunting by humans numbered about 700 when grizzlies, lions, black bears and coyotes were present along with a few wolves. Then the high wolf numbers occurred and along with the presence of bison to feed wolves the elk have pummeted to less than 100. Survivors stand in deep pools in the lower Madison River to escape the wolves. When was the last time you saw elk on the Gibbon Meadows?

    Wolves are running elk off our WMA’s we have purchased for winter range for elk and other ungulates. Examples of that can be found on the Blacktail, Robb/Ledford, Wall Creek, Bear Creek and Porcupine. For example the excellent Blacktail used to have 1,700 to 2,100 each winter. In recent years that number has been 14, 30 etc. They are moving to private ranch lands and causing major problems for ranchers. In order to build the Gravelly-Snowcrest herd to 8,000 we will have to kill wolves, and also get the elk back on the purchased game ranges. I have quit hunting elk in the area of the southern Gravellies I used to hunt. Wolf packs have denned in the elk calving area for years and the elk have moved to less desirable locations to escape the wolves. By the way a wolf killed a radio collared elk on the Blacktail WMA in 1993. Our moose numbers have declined greatly as have our mule deer numbers.

  98. Nancy says:

    Allen said: Wolves are running elk off our WMA’s we have purchased for winter range for elk and other ungulates.

    In recent years that number has been 14, 30 etc. They are moving to private ranch lands and causing major problems for ranchers

    Survivors stand in deep pools in the lower Madison River to escape the wolves. When was the last time you saw elk on the Gibbon Meadows?
    You are straying off the topic a little so I will mention that in SW MT where we have high numbers of grizzlies and wolves the elk are in big trouble.

    ? Is it just me or do a few others on this blog have a problem with this BS?

    • Elk275 says:


      It is true, they are not the elk there was 10 years ago. Wolves and bears are not the sole cause, but a cause never the less. If there were not any wolves regardless of other causes there would be more elk. I have hunted that country for many years and the elk started to decrease with the increase in wolf numbers.

      These WMA’s were purchased by sportsman with sportsman’s money for elk winter range. From December to May 15 no one is allowed on this land to keep from distrubing the elk, but wolves are allowed to hunt, chase and kill elk hunter’s land. What is good for one should be good for all.

    • bob jackson says:

      “Allen” is full of SH..

  99. Nancy says:

    These WMA’s were purchased by sportsman with sportsman’s money for elk winter range. From December to May 15 no one is allowed on this land to keep from distrubing the elk, but wolves are allowed to hunt, chase and kill elk hunter’s land. What is good for one should be good for all.

    Elk, again, I’m abit confused. Who’s land is it we are talking about here?

  100. Elk275 says:

    The land belongs to the State Fish Wildlife and Parks and the department pays property tax on the parcels.

  101. Nancy says:

    Elk, if you could, please define WMA’s?

  102. Elk275 says:

    This is from the FW&P’s website

    State Wildlife Management Areas

    Montana Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) are owned and managed by the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks and provide free public hunting opportunities statewide. All WMAs have limitations on the available season of use. Some areas allow camping and motorized use is restricted to designated routes. Hunting on WMAs is open to all resident and nonresident hunters with a valid hunting license and/or permit. Purchase of the State Recreational Use License is not required to recreate at these

  103. SAP says:

    There was some useful discussion regarding living with bears going on. As Allen said, this is a little off topic. I’m sure there’s somewhere else to talk about wolves and elk.

  104. Nancy says:

    You are correct SAP but Allen’s comments are what got me alittle off topic. Can’t just assume eveyone trying to relate to the conversation on this blog are automatically gonna relate to the abbreviations being tossed around.

  105. SEAK Mossback says:

    As people are struggling to explain or rationalize this bear’s behavior, there seems to be one possible important factor that is getting short shrift. Similar to humans, brown (grizzly) bears have a huge variety of personalities. They are often described as unpredictable, but a large component of the unpredictability is variation among individuals, just like humans are variable and unpredictable.

    There are several components of the unpredictability, one being the individual (divided somehow into the genetic versus experience, i.e. nature-nurture components) while another huge one is their current nutritional status and when and how much they last ate. If you go to a salmon stream that gets a lot of bear viewers or sport fishermen, you will be pretty safe. The bears all know what you areaabout, they have plenty to eat and if there were any anti-social (i.e. dangerous) ones they have probably been run off by other bears or possibly shot, or chosen to stay by themselves at the headwaters. That’s the ideal situation.

    The situation shifts when going to an out-of-the-way stream that gets no human visitors. There, when you suddenly show up in front of bear there is a fight or flight reaction in many, although some will either ignore you or even rarely try to walk up to you. In fight or flight, the big boys pretty much always turn tail and even most of the sows with cubs. However, a fair number of the sows will get your attention and some charge. And this seems almost independent of whether they currently have cubs. So, in defensive reactions at least, the amount of prior contact with humans is obviously a huge factor. I think that isn’t much different than it is toward bears from the human perspective. People who have never seen a bear have fight or flight feelings that can quickly turn to over-complacency around well-fed bears accustomed to humans.

    But back to individuality. It’s hard to call some bears trustworthy, yet when ample food is present, some act in a very consistent and predictable social manner for many years – just what we might view as an admirable trait in a person. An example, is Tess a bear that spends a lot of time on an incredibly productive, pristine salmon stream on the outer coast (I’m heading out there Aug. 10-13 to help put in the weir and very much looking forward to it). She showed up at the weir in August 1994, and after a couple of infractions where she was on the receiving end of a fired signal flare she accepted the crew as the “bosses”. For 16 years, she has grown quite large and hung out on the weir often feet away while they are inspecting, cleaning, sandbagging, pitching carcasses, counting, sampling, etc. When she gets too close they can get her to back off immediately with a very subtle signal like clearing the throat, turning the head slightly, etc. But there are many other bears that come through. She lets many of them stay and fish if they don’t get too close. However, there is the occasional one that puts the crew on edge – one that is perhaps shifty or anti-social acting, something different. Interestingly, those are the ones that Tess launches after and runs off on sight. I’m guessing the bear I described trying to break into my cabin on the Alaska Peninsula was one of those.

    The point is just because one bear does something shocking that we find abnormal doesn’t mean that we absolutely have to find a reason to excuse it. Food is often a huge one, but it could just be something in the bear’s mental make-up or it’s past – in humans we have a whole field about it called psychology and we still aren’t able to stop or explain everybody who goes postal but is from a “good” family. Neither is our failure to explain an individual bear’s actions an indictment of the population of bears at large – we have to go more by the overall record, but expect occasional distant outlyers.

    • bob jackson says:

      ‘Neither is our failure to explain an individual bear’s actions an indictment of the population of bears at large-”

      “…then isn’t this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Seak – isn’t this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but I’m not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America. Gentlemen!” Oh, just a little fun.

    • Linda Hunter says:

      Nice Seak. I totally agree with your post about bears. Good story about the weir bear which is close to some of the experiences I have had as well. I too have seen the “shifty” bear and know just what you mean. I did notice that bears also have what looks like displacement behaviors. I watched a sub-adult male get literally pushed around by human fishermen one fine day. . . he ran down the coast and I followed him to see what would happen. The first non-occupied fishing boat he came to pulled up on shore was the object of his rage. He mauled the boat and destroyed the engine while we watched. His first swat of the boat looked angry but then he calmed down and deliberately took apart the engine cowling and then carefully ripped all the wires out. I wish someone had had a video camera for this. This is the short version of the story, but I have also seen other bears after a human confrontation rip vegetation and attack trees.

    • SEAK Mossback says:

      Linda – Sounds like he was going to make sure that engine wasn’t going to run again anytime soon.

      We’ve built one tent frame way up on posts high enough with a bit of an overhang so bears don’t seem to be able to climb up there. There is a staircase that we remove when we leave. It is very solid with bracing all around, but one year a bear almost brought it down. And the way it was done was methodical and suggested an uncanny understanding of weak points, with little random wasted effort. It might even have impressed an engineer like pointswest. It broke out most of the key cross-bracing and then attempted to shove the posts out from under the corners, which was pretty tough because we had them heavily nailed to the joists on both sides with metal strapping – it only managed to knock one out, and fortunately gave up not too far short of dropping the entire structure.

  106. pointswest says:

    Bob…what are some good books you’ve read about the old west? Some of my faves are:

    –Journal of a Trapper by Osborne Russell

    –Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson by Raymond Thorp

    –The Journals of Beaver Dick by Leigh Thompson

    –My Life as an Indian by J. W. Schultz

    –The Journals of Lewis and Clark

    –The Journals of John C. Fremont

    –Tough Trip Through Paradise by Andrew Garcia

    –Fort Hall, Gateway to the Oregon Country by Frank Robertson

    –North to Montana, Life on the Montana Trail by Betty and Brigham Madsen

    –The Bannock of Idaho by Brigham Madsen

    –The Shoshone by Brigham Madsen

    –I Will Fight No More Forever by Merrill Beal

    –East Idaho by Merril Beal

    –John Colter : Man Who Found Yellowstone, by by Mark Boesch

    –No Man Like Joe Meek by Harvey Elmer Tobie

    –Black Elk Speaks by Nicholas Black Elk and John G. Neihardt

    –The Shoshoni Frontier and the Bear River Massacre by Brigham Madsen

    –The Bear River Massacre and the Making of Histoy by by Kass Fleisher

    –Colorado Rail Annual No. 15, the Utah and Northern Railway.

    • SEAK Mossback says:

      pointswest –
      Not to jump in front of Bob, but you have a pretty good set of titles there. I have Tough Trip through Paradise on the shelf right beside me – a great picture of the west right on the cusp of the huge transition.

      If you are willing to look a little farther north, The Mad Trapper of Rat River by Dick North a Yukon historian is a great read. The main part (probably the greatest chase ever by the Northwest Mounted Police – 48 days) takes place in the Northwest Territories and Yukon, and the original edition tracks him for sure only back to the gold fields at Dease Lake, B.C. but the author has since been able to solve much more of the mystery, following him back into North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana in the most recent edition.

    • pointswest says:

      That Andrew Garcia who authored Tough Trip lived in West Yellowstone until his death in the mid 40’s. My father worked in West Yellowstone just after the war and knew the guy or, at least, knew people who were his good friends.

      If you like the Yellowstone area, the must read is Journal of a Trapper.

      If you like Idaho, the Brigham Madsen books are good. Geese, I never looked at Idaho the same after reading his books. Idaho is soaked with human blood.

    • bob jackson says:

      The ranger I replaced at Thorofare had been there 9 years. He drank Old Yellowstone, smoked Marlboro’s, could talk every horse color, read every Louie Lamour there was (Thorofare cabin had lots of these paper backs on the bedroom shelves) ….. and never caught a single poacher….even though one could not go a quarter mile along the South boundary line without seeing outfitter hunting encroachment sign.

      Also in this line of books at Thorofare was Tough trip Through Paradise. All the back country rangers…and front country rangers ……wanna be’s… TTTT. And all would get on their horses and reinact this romance in their heads….and that was it.

      Thus, I could never read these types of books. I’m sure there was some good in them and some good tips on things I needed and wanted to know…but it just gagged me too much to see roles being more important than doing what needed to be done (I guess it was my farm back ground and my dads mentorship).

      My interest was reports on findings on ancient buffalo jumps, early anthropological reports on indigenous hunter-gatherers (American, African, South American …you name it), horse tips from cultures pre whiteman, slavery and WW11 concentration camp behavior….and in depth following hunters from 3-6,000 years ago in lands that had never seen a whiteman before me. I’d know their hunts just as if they were there with me. I’d follow them from their camps, see where they stayed on ledges above the same game trail used 5,000 years ago, see their broken spear points down hill from these ledges…and see where the guys and girls would get together away from camp and write little love notes in the rocks.

      Along the way it meant I read ..and still do…some of the African great White Hunter reports and books, Colonel Dodges accounts of the Plains, L&C…and I hate to say it, to study them …. not to enjoy them as a book. I think if I had not seen so much Walter Mittyism in folks that professionally should not have strayed off the purpose of their job (kinda like rangers who took back country positions on Shoshone and Yellowstone Lake because they got to kayaak…or because the position was a way to ride horses and get paid for it) I could have enjoyed books like you mention more. Alas it wasn’t to be.

      And as for enjoyment? I always kept a copy of Architectural Digest next to the seat in the Thorofare outhouse.

    • SEAK Mossback says:

      I have read Journal of a Trapper. Will look into the two on Idaho. When I was a kid in Yellowstone, there were still tracks that were said to have been made by the Bannocks’ travois when they traveled through annually to Montana to get to buffalo after the ones in Idaho were killed off.

    • Elk275 says:

      ++That Andrew Garcia who authored Tough Trip lived in West Yellowstone until his death in the mid 40′s. My father worked in West Yellowstone just after the war and knew the guy or, at least, knew people who were his good friends. ++

      Pointswest, that is not right. Andrew Garcia had a farm, Missoula, Montana and died there in the early 1940’s.

      ++Doug’s father William Garcia, who passed away earlier this year, was one of the two sons of Andrew Garcia, Jr., one of four sons Barbara Voll Garcia bore to Andrew Senior. Andrew married Barbara Voll in 1899. By 1909 the couple had settled down on their ranch at Rivulet, near the Alberton Gorge on the Clark Fork River, where they lived out their years. ++

      Source of information:

  107. JEFF E says:

    Interesting read. I found table 2 caused me to wonder if the cubs really were “malnourished” or not . Zoo montana say’s that the cubs weighed between 60-70 lbs. For the two females that put them well within the range of female cubs at 1 year.
    The male is well below that range, however the study say’s that weaned yearlings steadily lost weight July-September, Don’t know if that is the case here or not as far as the being weaned but if so could be just normel cubs with possibly a small male to start with.
    After that this is a good read at least for me.

  108. miensa says:

    You know, with all the debates I’m in across the web, which I usually avoid now like the plague, it is really quite liberating, scary and interesting to be on the other side for once.
    What has happened to me?

  109. Miensa says:

    Jeff, I am not quite sure what people would have wanted officials to do with this female. I read somewhere that they used the tent as bait to capture her and she took it. So, that would have been a third incident if it were not a “bait”. For whatever reasons she was malnourished I can’t see any other choice than the one they chose. Unless people would prefer her to be locked up for the rest of her life. I am the first one to be against this option. Am I missing something?

  110. polebridge says:

    In reference to the Many Glacier fencing, that was removed quite awhile ago. It used to be down by the group campsite on the creek. It was back in 1976 that Mary Pat Mahoney was dragged from her tent in Many Glacier and the fenced enclosure was put up shortly thereafter. I believe it was removed in the early 90’s. It was never electrified.

    • Allen says:


      Thanks for clearing up the fencing info. I knew that I heard about it while doing grizzly research out of Choteau in the latter 1970’s. If I recall correctly, a young couple were also severely mauled in the area of brushy campground along the creek. Scent from a little extracurricular activity was thought to have brought the grizzly in.

      Since you are named Polebridge I will mention that the grizzly damaged FG camper I stayed in 1963 while trapping black bears in spring was on the head of Big Creek. Of interest perhaps is the fact that the black bear research biologist killed a 500 pound grizzly the previous year that had gotten caught in a trap set for black bears and pulled the trap drag a couple of miles before it got hung up temporarily. It charged the biologist and helper and the biologist waited for the helper to fire his shotgun at the bear. The helper ran off with the shotgun and the biologist turned to run, tripped and fell. The bear reared up over the biologist and he pulled his 9 shot HR .22 revolver and fired all nine shots at the head of the bear and one went in the eye socket killing the bear. I believe that is why I was able to get the assistant’s job on that project and two other research projects in 1963.

      One comment was made about the lack of pine nuts and cutthroat trout when the man was killed. If you look at YNP grizzly food habits neither one are a very big items at this time of the year. Green vegetation is the most common food resource now. On the Rocky Mountain Front grizzlies were also eating army cutworm moths on tops of mountains at the end of July and also trying to dig out pika’s.

  111. Save bears says:

    Bear thin, but not starving:

    Sorry if this has already been posted, but with the rapid fire nature of this story, its hard to keep up with what is going on!

  112. miensa says:

    Wasn’t there a female with three cubs recently hit by a car in Hayden Valley late at night(in June). The bear got up and ran back into the woods and they never found her? Curious.

  113. JEFF E says:

    “Investigators were working through all possibilities, but Servheen said “nothing obvious has emerged as yet.”

    The sow was at least 10 years old but had healthy teeth indicating it was not a geriatric animal, said Andrea Jones with Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks. Some grizzlies live more than 20 years.

    It weighed 221 pounds — less than the average of 300 to 400 pounds but still within a healthy range.

    The director of ZooMontana on Sunday described the cubs as malnourished. But Jones said her agency was not describing them that way; the animals were underweight but not starving.

    And the number of cubs, although higher than the average of 2.2 cubs per female, was still within the norm, said Chuck Schwartz, a grizzly bear expert with the U.S. Geological Survey.

    “She was small, her yearlings were small, but we see small runty cubs, small runty yearlings,” Schwartz said. “The only thing that’s unusual to me is the fact that this is a predatory event.””

  114. Dawn Rehill says:

    Thought this certain site was about what happened with the bears, serious problem and why did it happened ? But no, let’s keeping talking about the wolves and how they are destory the elk and damn we may have to hunt harder to get the elk! Prey and Pedator have always existed,but when the dollar is hurting, damn blame someone or something, by the way Allen a wild animal does not know private property .

  115. pointswest says:

    Man accused of baiting bear at Cooke City…

  116. Save bears says:

    There have been unsubstantiated allegations, that someone was baiting wildlife, nobody has been accused as of today and the agencies are investigating and have not named anyone. The first time the allegation showed up was on Facebook about an anonymous person claiming wildlife baiting was going on. In light of what has happened, it is only prudent to investigate if in fact there is something to it, but right now, it is just being they should.

    But again, nobody has been accused and nobody has been identified…

    • pointswest says:

      I wonder if someone from this blog did it to salt the investigation. 🙂

  117. miensa says:

    I am trying to find some info on this site about the Anschutz luxury train. Anyone point me in the right direction? I don’t know where else to ask.

  118. polebridge says:

    @ Allen,
    No problem, I distinctly remember the enclosure during our summer camping excursions. I believe it was the notorious Gil Lusk that had it removed during his tenure as superintendent of Glacier.
    Interesting story about Big Creek and somewhat fortuitous for you! Do you remember the Guyfer (don’t know if I’m spelling that right) Grizzly that roamed the NF, breaking into scores of cabins and disappearing like a specter?


July 2010


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey