Controversy over rules for watching Grand Teton NP grizzly bears

Photographers don’t like the new rules promoted because of the people watching GB 399, 610 and cubs-

Photographers now have to keep further backJackson Hole Daily. By Thomas Dewell.






  1. Robert Bunch Avatar
    Robert Bunch

    Since I love to photograph wildlife this comes as disappointing news to me. I have been reading about these bears on the internet and was looking forward to photographing them and their cubs this fall when I visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. In spite of that I would rather miss the chance for good photos than see either of these bears, and especially the cubs, or any other wildlife come to any harm by my and other photographers desire to get good photos. I haven’t been there recently so I don’t know first hand the problems and circumstances that lead to this decision but there is no such rule that I have heard of like this in Yellowstone. Over the years I have been in many bear jams there and the rangers have done a pretty good job of handling the situation without resorting to similar restrictions. It seems a bit of an over reaction to me but like I said I don’t know since I haven’t witnessed the situation in person. I am interested in hearing what some folk who live in the area have to say about it. Hopefully some will post here.

  2. wolfsong Avatar

    While photographing tundra Elk in Rocky Mtn. NP a couple of weeks ago I was witness to the stupidity of people. A huge bull was laying on the fringes of a herd and there were many people trying to get photos. I was a good, respectful distance away and watched as a couple started walking across the tundra (signs said KEEP OFF) to get closer with their P&S camera to get pics. When they got within 25 feet I finally yelled at them to stop and back off, if I hadn’t yelled, they would have walked right up to him.

    Mr. Mangelson may know the rules, but the majority of tourists do not. And many “pros” also disrespect and push the limits to get that PIC. Then when somebody gets hurt or killed, the wildlife pay the price. If you want that ultimate shot, then buy the lens to produce it. A good nature photographer cares more about his subject than the sale of a photo.

  3. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    I have to agree with Jackson Photographer Tom Mangelsen. The park service is over doing it. People come to the national parks to see bears and wolves, not to see specks on the hillside a mile away.
    The 100 yard restriction on wolves is really dumb. Wolves are not dangerous to humans and are quite capable of quickly putting distance between themselves and humans. Yellowstone enacted a 100 yard rule on wolves three years ago without any basis for their decision. They were pressured by a group of wolf watchers who think they own the wolves.
    I spent three months in Jackson last fall and winter and watched the so called “Elk Reduction Hunt”. Hunters were allowed to shoot elk in Grand Teton National Park and in The National Elk Refuge and pursued the elk with their vehicles on the access roads. Most of the elk were shot by road hunters. As soon as the hunt was over, the park closed many of the roads. They take much better care of the hunters than they do regular visitors.

  4. WM Avatar

    My solution would be to have all NP visitors do a 10 minute orientation to visiting the park including the unpredictability of wild animals. They could do it on line before visiting, and just submit a signed form as proof of doing the orientation. Those who do not have a signed form would have the option of doing it at a visitor center. I would also have adults sign a release of all claims against the federal government for any liability from attack by wild animals which arises during their visit, which also includes an acknowledgement that they will be personally responsible for any wild animals killed by their vehicle, or any acts they take to endanger themselves, or ultimately the animal (as in if the animal needs to be destroyed because of their irresponsible acts).

    This does three things: It educates the park visitor to proper etiquette in the Park and orients them to the Park’s purpose and rules of visiting. It gets the federal government off the hook for not doing everything to protect the idiots that get injured. And, it makes these yahoos financially and morally responsible if they screw up.

    Will something like this ever be implemented? Of course not. It’s the NPS.

    1. Daniel Berg Avatar
      Daniel Berg

      It would be great if they at least had to sign a form waiving their right to sue.

    2. Robert Bunch Avatar
      Robert Bunch

      A couple of suggestions I could support whole heartedly!!

  5. Nabeki Avatar

    WOW! I’m on vacation and we were in the Tetons and saw the whole event. There were so many people there rushing to get pics of the bears. Cars were lined up and down the highway and everyone was dashing into the field with their cameras. I didn’t get any pics because at the time we had no idea of the unique nature of the event, we knew it was bears but only found out later that day the whole story, so we drove past all the craziness. I was really sad I missed getting those pics but OTOH it truly was a zoo out there.

  6. Mike Avatar

    I’m a photographer and IMHO these are sound rules. It’s not about me or my photos. It’s about the animals having a place where they can live peacefully.

    Road photography is dangerous for the wildlife and people because it’s a stressful situation.

    I got caught in-between two fighting black bears in Many Glacier last September(and if anyone has seen Many Glacier’s black bears, they’re gigantic). I had to stand on the roof of a car with my monopod while the first bear ran past the trunk. The bigger black bear approached the car I was on and stared at me as it passed within a foot of the trunk and then ran off to the tree line to chase the other bear. This was easily the biggest black bear I’d seen, even bigger than many grizzlies.

  7. cc Avatar

    The safety of wildlife, especially a threatened species like grizzly bears, takes precedence over the desire of visitors to get close-up photos on public land. The combination of stopped vehicles, moving vehicles, people out of their vehicles, and a bear with young cubs has great potential for a cub getting hit by a car or the sow feeling the need to violently defend her cubs. It’s a no brainer for those responsible enough to put the great bears needs above the desires of people wanting convenient photo-ops.

  8. Alan Avatar

    So if a bear is walking along the road, do I have to stop my car 100 yards back and wait until it is more than 100 yards from the road? Or can I just hurry by?
    This rule is unenforceable for the following reason: There is no way that someone is going to bring their family, which may have never seen a bear or wolf in the wild before, a thousand miles from Scranton, Pa. (or wherever) and not hit the break when they see one and try and get a picture. Tourists do not follow the rules now. What makes the Park Service think that they are going to follow the new rules? Just as in “wolfsong’s story above, there were signs all over the place “keep off”. The rules in GTNP aren’t a secret. Most visitors are given park papers upon entering; they are posted at entry stations, visitor centers etc. The excitement and mob mentality takes over and they are ignored.
    The only people who will be hurt by these new restrictions will be folks like Tom or Larry or myself, because they will be the only ones following them. They spent a ton of money on equipment capable of getting good photos at safe distances. They will follow the new rules partly because they cannot afford to get thrown out of the Park, but mainly because they have always made an effort to comply with the rules. They will stand 100 yards down the road trying to get a shot between the hoardes of tourists who will continue to rush the animals. Actually there are some tourists who do an excellent job obeying the rules. They will suffer too.
    Why not enforce the rules already in place? I suppose that an ocassional tourist gets a ticket, but in every bear jam I’ve been in (and I do try to avoid them) rangers simply yell at tourists, “Move back” to behind that tree or car or whatever; then as soon as the ranger turns his (her) head they go right back to what they were doing, or where they were. Do they get a ticket? No. What usually happens is they are ignored, or they are yelled at again, or the whole thing gets shut down, people are told to get in their cars and leave, cones are put up in turnouts and everyone suffers (or you come back the next day and find that it is shut down). Why aren’t tickets written? If people saw that pad come out I’m pretty sure they would start paying attention. I guarantee you that if it was a “big lens” guy ignoring directions from a ranger, paper would exchange hands; or worse.
    Don’t get me wrong. Most rangers do a great job, one that I wouldn’t want. I think they get overwhelmed sometimes. A ranger told me once that they really don’t want to ruin anyone’s vacation if possible. An admirable point of view. But the job is the job, and it isn’t right to spoil it for everyone because of those who simply refuse to comply with the rules, even when repeatedly told what they are.
    In addition, I think the rules should be posted on a HUGE sign at entry stations, be on the front of the park paper printed larger than anything else, and also be on the park map. Penalties should also be listed.
    Anyway, that’s my rant for the day.

    1. Larry Thorngren Avatar

      A lot of rangers seem to suffer from “Lens Envy” and are very prone to over-enforce the rules when they see a large lens being used.
      I find that many of the rangers are wannabe wildlife photographers and consider anyone using large telephotos to be their competition. I often see park employees in government vehicles stopping to take photos of the wildlife. Some of them even go so far as to use government helicopters to take photos for sale.(Doug Smith for one)

  9. Alan Avatar

    “The safety of wildlife, especially a threatened species like grizzly bears, takes precedence over the desire of visitors to get close-up photos on public land.”
    Cc, you are absolutely correct of course. But consider this: there are people out there who, if they cannot get their picture from the safety of the road with a ranger standing by, who are going to try and sneak in on foot to get a shot, creating a far more dangerous situation for themselves and the bear.
    The biggest problem is that there are just too darn many people visiting these parks. The best answer (short of just shutting them down and turning them into wildlife sanctuaries, which would be great for the animals…not so much for the economies of the local communities) would be to limit the number of people allowed in the parks each day, or put everyone on tour busses; but I don’t see either of those options working in the Tetons or Yellowstone, because their roads also serve as through highways.

    1. cc Avatar

      There are definitely better solutions to the problem but the best, like the buses and visitor quota you mentioned, are unfortunately unfeasible. More rangers and law enforcement on the scene would be great too but they won’t get the funding for that. My main concern is the bears getting hit by cars, which is a very real and likely threat.

  10. Elk275 Avatar

    I have read on this forum several times that with the reintroduction of wolves that elk will start acting like elk, and the elk hunter should and will have to hunt harder and smarter. The same should be true with photographers.

    A photo of an elk or bear in Yellowstone/Teton National Park becomes germane . There to many pictures of bull elk rutting on the Madison River or grizzlies in the Lamar Valley. The pictures eventually become boring. .
    The photographer should get out of the national parks and go to the wilderness areas or adjacent national forest where the animals are not habituate to humans for their photography. Archery hunters find there quarry and stalk within 40 or 50 yards for their shot. Why cannot a photographer do the same. This time of year I would have no trouble finding an abundance wildlife without going to a national park.

    In my opinion the Park Service is doing the right thing. Now getting the tourist to do the right thing will be challenging.

    1. Mike Avatar

      One could make the case that hunting has become far too quick and easy, that the advance in technology really makes it almost a cruel endeavour. Your example of the archer stalking his prey (without bait) is not the typical hunter. What we see far more of are people hunting from cars and ATV’s, or leaving traps in the woods.

      BTW, “germane” is “pertinent and fitting”. I think you were looking for “pedestrian”.

      1. Elk275 Avatar


        ++What we see far more of are people hunting from cars and ATV’s, or leaving traps in the woods.++

        I have never seen a big game hunter leaving traps in the woods or ever heard about the use of traps. What bait does archer use while hunting elk, deer, antelope or moose? Corn, oats, hay or maybe sweet feed. It does not happen.

        As far as hunting from cars(trucks)or ATV’s (I hate ATV’s, but remember our veteran Saves Bears) if they are legally on a road then that is there right. Road hunters sucess is very poor on public land. I hate ATV’s.

    2. JB Avatar

      LOL! You say that now, Elk. I don’t think hunters would be very happy if all of a sudden there were twice as many people in the woods pursuing wildlife. Ask yourself what the likely consequences would be when some photographer chased off some other guy’s “kill”.

      I think the unique experience that some of the National Parks offer is due to habituation of the wildlife there. A habituated (as opposed to food-conditioned) animal will behave “naturally” around people, allowing us to observe behavior we would never (or at least very rarely) get to see if these animals were hunted. Moreover, the benefits of seeing such behavior are accrued by hunters and non-hunters alike.

      1. Elk275 Avatar


        Hunting season only last a couple of weeks. Photographer season is year around with no license or bag limits.

        1. JB Avatar

          And what does hunting season coincide with that makes it a desirable time to pursue deer/elk?

        2. Ralph Maughan Avatar


          When I was a kid, growing up in Utah, they actually let school out for a week for deer hunting season. I can’t remember when that stopped (that was in Cache Valley, northern Utah).

          However, the deer season (general hunt was the hunt) was a clearly defined time with almost none of the complex rules of today. Elk season was short (not that many elk). I don’t recall a bear season. Cougars were varmints.

          Nowadays there are many hunts going on in both time, animal, and geographic area. Except for maybe June and July, hunters share the great outdoors with all kinds of other users.

          1. SEAK Mossback Avatar
            SEAK Mossback

            When I was in high school in Gardiner, they gave us one floating day off for hunting — most probably used it on opening day if it wasn’t a weekend. Beginning at age 14, I hunted in Wyoming where the season was much more protracted and hunters fewer, at least in those days in the NW corner. In some ways, short condensed hunting seasons are a big draw to recruitment into hunting and furthering the hunting tradition. Either be there on opening day, or be square and have no stories to tell at school.

            I can really see it here where we have a 5 month deer season combined with substantial periods of inclement weather. There is no short window of opportunity to miss, so people delay going out and many who are less committed end up using all the nice weekends watching football or doing something else and eventually find another season has passed and they didn’t even make it out. The increasingly urbanized and otherwise entertained population in this town fields about the same number of active deer hunters now (about 2,000) that it did 45 years ago when the total population was probably a third what it is today. It was very difficult to get my kids excited about going deer hunting on any particular day because they could go on many other days almost half the year — just by walking out the back door. They did miss that concentrated social tradition, although we managed to get them and the dog up in the alpine for a 3 day August adventure/hunt most every year. But just personally, I enjoy being able to pick my days and virtually never see another hunter on an island that gets some use by 800 individual hunters scattered over 5 months.

          2. Jeff E Avatar
            Jeff E

            some wolf hunts will go to the end of June.

            So much for the no hunting during denning fable huh Mark G.

      2. Larry Thorngren Avatar

        In Idaho, you can get arrested if you interfer with a hunter pursuing game.
        I had an uncle get shot and killed while hunting near Salmon, Idaho, by his best friend, when I was 7. He had borrowed our tent and bled to death on it. I remember my dad burning the tent.
        This incident made me very concious of the hazzards of being out when the woods are full of armed hunters, many of which act as dumb as some of the tourists I see in Yellowstone.

  11. Alan Avatar

    An interesting point of view, Elk. A lot, if not most, photographers do a considerable amount of photography outside of the parks; but I wonder how safe one would be stalking around the woods in the fall trying to get elk rut photos at the same time that those same woods were filled with armed hunters? Also, in the Shoshone National Forest there is a $5,000 fine for approaching a bear to get a photograph, but apparently not to shoot it during hunting season (a black bear, at least).
    I, like you, am all for protecting the resource, but photographers like Tom Mangelsen aren’t the problem. The problem is the hoardes of tourists, and telling them not to stop their car within 100 yards of a bear or wolf, even if they stay in their car, is ludicrous. They didn’t travel (in some cases) thousands of miles to see a bear or wolf only to be told that they have to drive by it. It’s not realistic. You would need hundreds of rangers on duty 24/7 to enforce it. They can’t even enforce the rules they have now. People don’t come to the GYE to see Old Faithful (well, some do), most come to see wolves and bears and other wildlife. If you seriously try to enforce this you are going to give GTNP (and Yellowstone by association) a black eye and eventually destroy tourism in the area.

    1. Elk275 Avatar


      There are only several rifle hunting management areas open to elk hunting during the rut in the US. In Montana it is the Bob Marshall( area 150 and 151) and the Beartooths (area 316).

      I do not think that an archer would mistake a photograher for an elk, but stranger things have happen.

    2. Mike Avatar

      Good points, Alan. But these days, everyone is a photographer thanks to smart phones. If people can get a pciture, they will.

      I’ll be in the Rockies for another 45 tent nights in August and September, and I’ve seen it all. People do incredibly stupid things. For a documented example, see this article about a bull moose that charged a family in Glacier:

      I took the photos and wrote the article, and I wish it didn’t exist, but it happened.

      1. Alan Avatar

        “But these days, everyone is a photographer thanks to smart phones.”
        I disagree. Everyone takes pictures, snapshots. Doesn’t make them a photographer any more than my driving to the grocery store makes me an Indy driver.
        Tom Mangelsen is a photographer. If you haven’t already, check out his web-site and see if your cousin Bobbie ever brought home pictures like that on her cell phone.

      2. Nancy Avatar

        Good article Mike. Hope its read by atleast some of the people coming to areas like that to see wildlife.

        Last fall I was heading to a job early one morning and came across a car sitting on a curve in the road. About the same time I saw the car, I noticed the occupants (cameras in hand and flashing away) standing in the middle of the road and then realized why they were standing there…… a small herd of elk was bunched up along a fenceline.

        I stopped as soon as I realized what was going on and they headed back to their car and then all hell broke loose as 20-30 elk bounded over the fenceline, crossed the road and then had to take on another fenceline, going up hill.

        The car took off and I sat there and waited. There were calves running all over on one side of the fence and cows looking for those calves on the other side.

        These elk managed to made it thru weeks of getting run around in rancher’s pastures by the local outfitter during hunting season but sadly they had even more “fences AND idiot tourists” to cross before finally migrating out of the area for the winter.

    3. WM Avatar


      Looks like some folks aren’t following the no approaching of bears for photo in the Shoshone NF. The attached video is from just a couple weeks ago and would suggest a violation if it is accurately labeled. Also, do you know if the prohibition is a WY Game & Fish regulation, or a federal (forest wide)rule promulgated at the Shoshone NF level?

  12. Savebears Avatar

    What is amazing, is this article and the new implementation of rules has nothing whats so ever to do with hunting, but yet, it gets strayed off in that direction!

    1. jon Avatar

      how you been sb?

      1. Savebears Avatar

        Very Busy this summer, hope it calms down a bit by fall..

  13. Headwaters Avatar

    Two small groups in bear country are characterized by an incredible sense of entitlement and as a result have impacts on bears well out of proportion to their numbers. Those are wildlife researchers, and wildlife photographers. Researchers at least have peer review processes and animal welfare committees to constrain their proclivity for trapping, radio-collaring anything that moves, especially if it’s rare. But photographers seem to be a rule unto themselves and feel they aren’t accountable to anybody even though they continually push boundaries and single-handedly habituated bears to human presence by parking on individual animals for hours. There are a few (Banff’s John Marriott comes to mind) who are outspoken advocates for ethical restraint and will gladly put the welfare of animals before their own self-interest, but they are outnumbered by the “my shit don’t stink” crowd who are always ready to jump down the throats of park rangers and them a cover sho land managers but have no compunction about crowding and harassing bears if it t get them a cover shot for an outdoor mag. So… Congratulations to the Superintendent and ranger staff at Grand Teton for putting bear survival and. Conservation values first. And to the whiny, self-justifying photographers…. Suck it up. It isn’t all about you.

    1. Alan Avatar

      “Two small groups in bear country are characterized by an incredible sense of entitlement and as a result have impacts on bears well out of proportion to their numbers. Those are wildlife researchers, and wildlife photographers.”
      Interesting how these two groups, it could be argued, are also hugely responsible for the preservation of many species and habitat. Many, if not most, serious wildlife and nature photographers are members of, and/or contributors to, various conservation groups. They care about and get involved in environmental issues; and there is no doubt that their photographs and videos influence thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people the world over to do likewise. The benefits of
      researchers in determining the effects of global warming, habitat loss, habitat degradation, population trends etc. are well documented.
      But there is one other small group of “entitles”
      that you failed to mention: hunters. It always fascinates me that a hunter tracking an animal down and killing it is considered beneficial to the species; yet, somehow, standing next to your car on the side of the road photographing in a National Park, often with a ranger standing right there, is “endangering” the animal?
      BTW, Tom Mangelsen is the “gold standard” when it comes to, “outspoken advocates for ethical restraint (who) will gladly put the welfare of animals before their own self-interest…”
      If you visit any of the various places in Alaska or Canada where there are primarily professional wildlife photographers, or even visit Yellowstone or Grand Teton during times of the year that are quiet, you will see long lens photographers who are very respectful. Why do you think that Denali hands out a certain number of private vehicle permits to professional photographers? Because they are not the problem.
      The problem is hordes of tourists who have the “mob” mentality. These new rules will not solve that problem. At worst, if harshly enforced, they will turn tourists away from GTNP. It will develop a reputation that says, “You don’t want to go THERE! You can’t even stop and look at a bear or they give you a ticket!!”
      Gun advocates always tell me, “We don’t need new laws, we just need to enforce the ones we have.”
      That is the case here. These new rules are going to be very difficult, if not impossible, to enforce on the mobs of July and August (unless GTNP is ready and willing to bring out the gestapo); but it will be easy to enforce
      against the, primarily, pros who are out there in November and December. It will be like telling hunting rifle owners, most of whom are responsible (the big lens guys), “We are going to punish you because teenagers are plinking signs with BB guns.” Eventually the photogs won’t be back either.

  14. Headwaters Avatar

    Good points. Not knowing the individuals involved in the Jackson Hole area I can’t legitimately comment on their motives and ethics. But in the Canadian Rockies there are some very sanctimonious individuals who continually point fingers at everyone but themselves whenever a bear or wolf dies, even while they continue to violate seasonal road closure put in place by the authorities they castigate so freely in order to protect those same animals from displacement or over-habituation. The primary purpose of national parks is to protect the landscapes and wildlife and educate the public, not serve as personal preserves of an elite few who are, ultimately, engaged in a commercial venture in the public domain.
    Btw, I too am a writer and photographer, so I don’t need persuading on the important contribution conservation journalists make for these animals. But I still have my tongue firmly planted in my cheek when I see a commercial wildlife photographer dumping on restrictions put in place by park professionals doing the best they can for animals we all care about. Always best to look carefully in the mirror first before pointing fingers.

    1. Alan Avatar

      Photographers such as you speak of are no more “photographers” than poachers are “hunters”. Too bad we don’t have a name for them. Perhaps: “Phochers”?
      Obviously I am not intending to defend them.

    2. JB Avatar

      Alan, HW:

      A few years ago there was a pack of coyotes that denned up on blacktail plateau, just about 40 feet from the boardwalk. I was there shooting with 37 other photographers. There was a lot of “big glass”, and I only observed one person who left the boardwalk to approach the coyotes–instantly everyone started shouting for him to get back on the boardwalk. In my experience, serious photographers are not the problem.

      Here is one photo I took of the event:

      1. Alan Avatar

        Don’t you mean to say, “25 yards from the boardwalk!?” 🙂
        This is exactly what I mean. I was there. Serious photographers police themselves. They’ll jump all over someone breaking the rules. We didn’t have a ranger there. I’ve even had rangers in animal jams tell me and a few other photographers, “I gotta leave for a little while; you guys are in charge! Keep everybody in line!” The rangers know who the “phochers” are and who they can trust.

      2. Linda Jo Hunter Avatar

        Nice photo . . I never saw so much expensive camera gear in one place outside of a store.

        1. SEAK Mossback Avatar
          SEAK Mossback

          I stopped at Slough Creek a few years ago next to a bank of spotting scopes to watch some wolves. I thought the Bushnell Elite scope that I got for backpacking in the mountains was at least respectable glass, until I noticed the 5-year old son of the guy next to me was using exactly the same scope as a toy — nothing else in the line-up was remotely of such low class.

      3. WM Avatar

        And not a large format film photographer among them. You all guys and gals call yourselves photographers, where all you do is check the result in the electronic led viewfinder after the electronics do all the composition work – instantaneously?

        You didn’t have to work to get close, because that big magnification, bright f2.8 glass does it all for you (no fun in that).

        The art is not even painting with light anymore – twelve point autofocus, aperture and shutter custom set for you (maybe just hit the backlight or over/under stop wheel, just for insurance. Don’t forget to hit the image stabilizer button to compensate for the camera shake effect. Don’t like what you got? Adjust the white balance, play with some contrast buttons. Still don’t like it? Go back to the warm car and take your memory card out and crank up the laptop computer. What do you think? Not enough saturation. Well you can run it through Photoshop when you get home. Juice the print, and blow it a bit. Final product – Cool, look what I did, and I’ll sell it to ya for $250.

        Maybe the Pittman-Robertson law should be revisited and get some excise tax on that big $10,000 glass, the $4K bodies, and $600 tripods with fancy heads.

        What? Can’t shoot without a colorful Northface fleece jacket, and a Marmot gore tex suit, maybe a LowePro oversize pack to carry your expensive gear, because you don’t look successful, if you don’t.

        This isn’t photography anymore. I liken it to those lazy hunters with their long range scopes on the reach out and touch rifle, the rangefinders and those damn ATV’s.

        1. Alan Avatar

          Don’t mince words, Muse. Tell us what you really think!!

          1. WM Avatar


            I’m not quite done. Even for the wildlife photographer using the manual or even later film SLR’s with some good glass, there is/was some skill and knowledge required.

            I forgot to mention the part about most these yahoos with all their electronic toys not knowing about hyperfocal length depth of field relationships, or reciprocity. It used to be you really needed to know the camera, the film, and the underlying physics and chemistry, to some degree, to be a photographer.

            Now you just buy the expensive gear, and voila you are a photograher, the moment you step out of your expensive SUV, and snap the first shot (don’t forget to turn on the electronic shutter sound to make it seem more real – wait, wait, better turn it off so you don’t scare the wildlife.

            Maybe Larry Thorngren can remember what it really was to be a photographer.

          2. JB Avatar

            Now wait a minute, WM. I was one of the younger photogs on the boardwalk that day, and my first camera was a Pentax K1000. The only electronic component on the whole camera was the light meter! I just happened to take this photo shortly after buying my first digital camera. And no, I can’t afford 5K glass; I was shooting with a 300 F/4 (the model that came out before they added IS); and it’s still the longest lens I have.

        2. Savebears Avatar

          Awe the days of the Korona, the Medalist and the Graphic, those were the days when we all had to know something to produce a picture, then take it back to you darkroom and watch the magic in the chemicals!

          I still have a couple of my large format cameras and pull them out on occasion to get a different view

          1. Alan Avatar

            Yes, it’s clear that all the guys in JB’s photo are way too young to remember film.:-) Afterall, it’s been gone for all of seven or eight years now! (A few more for some, less for others.) Some of those guys might remember gunpowder flash, though!

    3. Larry Thorngren Avatar

      Photographers like Tom Mangelsen and myself use our real names when we comment. Maybe you should do the same.

      1. Savebears Avatar

        Larry are you implying you are in the same class as Tom? Let me know where your gallery is and I will be sure and drop in the next time I am in the area..

  15. cc Avatar

    Look at the photos in this link to see the cubs darting out into the road from between parked cars:

    That should make anyone wince. A wolf was hit and killed in a similar situation in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley last year.

    1. Alan Avatar

      This is one of the saddest things to see; when people don’t let bears (or other animals) cross the road. Rangers definately need to make sure there are gaps between parked cars; but this presents another problem with the new rules: If there are dozens of cars parked 100 plus yards down the road from where the bears are, and the bears suddenly decide to move toward the parked cars, what then? Does everyone suddenly have to move their cars at once? It is easy to ask that a bunch of people move their persons back to remain in compliance, not so much 30, 40, 50, 100 cars. The old rule said, “Ok, everybody get in your car.” Now it’s, “Ok, everybody get in your car and move it back 100 yards?!” All at once? This is unworkable!! Maybe you are supposed to just stay on foot and move back? Get out of your car and move back? Far more dangerous than everybody in their car. How can you convict anyone? “Your honor, I was parked 100 yards back and the bears changed direction and came over by my car. That’s when the ranger pulled up.” Bears are constantly moving, as are wolves.
      The rangers need more help to enforce the old rules. They will need an army to enforce the new ones.
      Too many people. Not enough rangers and volunteers.

  16. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    Several years ago, Yellowstone was addressing the bear jam problem by sending out bear rangers or at least park employees who monitored the bear jams and made sure that the people and bears stayed separated. They had special cars and were immediately dispatched to the nearest reported bear jam. I thought the program worked quite well. The ladies assigned to the program were low key and courteous, without weapons,and the bear watchers and photographers responded well to them. I haven’t seen them in recent years so the program must have ended.

    1. Mike Avatar

      Yes this was a good program. The ones I saw were not official rangers and drove white Toyota Priuses. Very friendly and good natured folks with a lot of patience.

  17. Sam Parks Avatar

    This isn’t about GTNP’s desire to protect the bears, this we can be sure of. This is about GTNP’s desire to keep the traffic moving and not have to deal with bear jams. So during the summer, the Park Service says you can’t sit in your vehicle 100 yards from these bears but come October they have no problem with hunters leaving out gut piles and hunting in extremely close proximities to these bears, without closing the area? They have a problem with you sitting in your car 100 yards from a bear, but they have no issues with baiting bears with food that has human scent, trapping them, drugging them, and slapping an intrusive radio collar around their neck? I would like to encourage Mary Gibson Scott to go to her nearest dictionary and look up the definition of the word “hypocrite.”

  18. dailyjacksonhole Avatar

    To answer a few questions posted here:

    I have been out for almost everyday with these bears since late may. I see them virtually every single day. Things are slowing down as they should since the elk calves are getting to catch the bears are ranging farther than the road.

    *Not once did I see anyone approach these grizzlies from a road.
    *not once did I see a photographer behave badly, I have certainly seen photographers behave badly in Grand Teton in other situations but never this year with these bears.
    *Not once did 399 look uncomfortable
    *Rarely did 610 look uncomfortable, never to any extent that I have seen in other bears that I felt the situation was unethical.
    *Almost every time I came to see them the rules the rangers/wildlife brigade were using were different. There was no consistency.

    Lets remember one basic fact, if 399/610 were truly uncomfortable THEY WOULD LEAVE, they have not. That is no excuse for someone to behave badly it just means that if they have been past a comfort level then they would not be approaching the roads where people gather. I realize the two bears go to the roads to protect the cubs from other bears and for the additional food resources that are not being used by other bears but…if a bear wants to use a roadside, particularly the main road to yellowstone then people are part of that environment. The price a bear pays for gaining the advantage of using a human area…is that it is a human area with humans.

    If 610 is charging cars (I have not seen her do so)- she should not be using roadsides and should be driven into the woods, she is not a safe bear to have roadside…its not the bears fault but she cant be charging cars. After they drove 399 into the woods 4 years ago she was a lot happier there and gained weight. In glacier they don’t even allow roadside bears at all, its an artificial environment.

    399 has now chosen to use side roads where casual tourists do not typically encounter her anymore. Crowds are manageable and don’t seem to occur much or bother her. 610 is right on the main road, this is not a good place, she and I, and the park service would be happier at this point if she was farther back in the woods.

    And keep in mind I make my salary on these bears. I would rather they all used back areas and were harder to see just so they would be safer, I would still be able to see them just work a little harder at it which is just fine. I greatly fear 610 will be hit by a car.

    Willow Flats- the area closed- is the best amphibian and reptile area in the park. It is one of the only good elk viewing areas mid summer and is a great spot to see moose. Not allowing cars to pull over and enjoy it is very sad an unnecessary. If 610 is the problem then fix the problem, don’t change everything you have done for 20 years for one bear!

    I adore 610 but I don’t want to lose the chance to enjoy all the bears I may see in future years just because she couldn’t be a backcountry bear.

    1. dailyjacksonhole Avatar

      To answer another question…

      *The park always leaves a space for these two bears to cross the road. I cant stand it when I bear cant cross a road due to crowds- its terrible and it has not been the case for these bears fortunately.

  19. Leslie Avatar

    I have to say that just a few weeks ago near Golden Gate above Mammoth I winced when I got caught in a bear jam with 2 black bears crossing from one side of the highway to the other. The people who watched from their cars were just fine. It was when people in front and behind my car jumped out and started running at full speed to where the bears were crossing to get a photo. I watched dozens of people try to get as close as possible to these bears, even following them into the woods.

    Its lucky these bears are used to people and so tolerant. But they aren’t all that way and people need to realize what they’re doing. This was just one week after the couple ran from a charging grizzly and the fellow was killed.

    There is a degree of respect for wildlife that people need to show. Wildlife, like people, need their personal space and Yellowstone/Tetons is not a zoo, although at times it can seem that way.

    1. SEAK Mossback Avatar
      SEAK Mossback

      Back in the days of bear jams and begging black bears, people got away with some amazing things. Stuck in a bear jam one beautiful fall day, my mother and I saw a big fat black bear sitting on his haunches on a bank above the road. A couple of kids ran up with a with a bag of wonderbread and tried to feed him, but he wasn’t interested. They started trying to force-feed him, pushing the pieces into the side of his mouth and he just turned his head away while they kept poking. Finally, we were able to communicate with the parents parked behind us that they should get their kids back while they still could.

      1. WM Avatar

        I think I may have mentioned here before, when YNP had those below ground garbage cans, a couple of kids pushed a black bear cub into one and the lid slammed shut. Cub screaming, mama looking around franticly and people scattering. Ranger comes by, pops the lid, the cub crawls out to re-unite with mama and everything goes back to normal – such was the case for the late 60’s. Amazing there weren’t more incidents that ended in injury for bears and humans.

  20. Immer Treue Avatar
    Immer Treue

    Things change, sometimes for the better, some times not so. About four years ago I spent an evening with Jim Brandenburg and a small group as we passed around a bottle of Bushmills. Brandsburgs talents extend far beyond his photography. When the subject arose about digital versus film, from what I recall, Jim said he agonized over going to digital, but once he did, I guess you could say the fat lady sang.

    I think for most “photographers” their pictures are very private, and never go beyond their own home. A friend and I had this very discussion last night. We both have boxes of slides, photos, and negatives that will never see the light of day. How many rolls of film did we take to get that ONE shot that made us feel good, after waiting and paying for development. I’m toying with the idea of hitting eBay and getting a good older model digital so that I can actually practice and see the results, and adjust accordingly.

    Manual transmissions versus automatic. Nothing like driving by sound and the tach, until one gets in urban areas. Typewriter vs computer, or for that matter, when was the last time you received a good, long, heartfelt hand written letter? Heck, even with cell phones, folks text rather than talk. Paper and pencil vs calculator, and I’m not referring to basic arithmetic…

    Not for the point of argument, just random brain farts. Photography with film required thought processes. One had to anticipate what their camera would do, and that became expensive, wasteful, and time consuming.

    1. WM Avatar


      Oh, I agree with you. It is just sad to see the thought processes that go into composing and printing an image be shoved aside because the technology makes it so much easier to get nearly the same or better result with much less effort.

      Large format 4×5 inch negative film will still produce a higher quality image than digital, even today. Most folks don’t know that. That is why photographers like Jack Dykinga, Terry Donnelly (and his wife, whose name escapes me) are still able to produce stunning landscape images.

      But, even that is changing to some degree. A 4×5 digital back has been available for a few years now. The cost: $20,000++ and you need a laptop with alot of power to run the thing. It weighs quite a bit and is tempermental in cold weather, which is why the pros don’t use them, and probably won’t for many years to come. They use them in studio work. Medium format, like Hasselblad, has gone digital, but again very expensive.

      Another thing most people don’t know is that an electro magnetic pulse (EMP) the kind generated by a nuclear bomb, or even an EMP generator that the military now uses to disrupt enemy electronics without blowing things up will destroy non-emp hardened devices and digital files (so I am told). The average person’s computer and other electronic devices ARE NOT EMP proof.

      Incidentally, digital files will start to corrupt in just a few years, so whatever is stored on your hard drive, CD/DVD’s or other media are not forever. A photo negative properly kept in archival sleeves will last a hundred years or more, and you don’t have to have an electronic device (formats are always changing) to read it. Print life is comparable, of course, if acid free paper and archival inks are used. Not everyone does this.

      That is why the National Park Service, which sets the standards for archival photography for all federal programs that document our history as a country (HABS/HAER, for example) still requires film photography which goes into the archives of the Library of Congress – today and will do so into the future.

      1. Alan Avatar

        “That is why the National Park Service…..still requires film photography which goes into the archives of the Library of Congress – today and will do so into the future.”
        Until they no longer make film.
        “If I extrapolate the trend for film sales and retirements of film cameras, it looks like film will be mostly gone in the U.S. by the end of the decade.”
        says professional imaging analyst Ed Lee.
        162 million film cameras were purchased in 1999. Less than 100,000 in 2009. So far Agfa, 3M, Konica, and Polaroid have all left the photographic film market, leaving only Kodak, Fujifilm and a handful of smaller companies still making film. Kodak has discontinued B&W and their signiture Kodachrome. Many manufacturors are discontinuing film camera bodies.

        None of these companies, that are no longer making film, stopped voluntarily… they all went bankrupt. In the future, as film cameras break down, rather than purchasing another one, people will move to digital. Not because they will want to, but because they will have no other practical choice. Film has already become a special order item at many camera stores across the country, and processing is harder to come by.

        1. WM Avatar


          ++Until they no longer make film.++

          Very sad film manufacturers are cutting back on offerings due to the big market swing. My wife uses a Polaroid back, with Type 55 film for her 4×5 stuff, to preview a shot before doing color transparencies or negatives. Can’t even find them in the aftermarket. Readiloads for Fuji Acros are not available in the US anymore, even though still makes it for sale in Asia and Europe.

          NPS documentation for HABS/HAER will be challenged with their continued insistence on film based images (if film becomes more scarce), but the guidelines and standards for their programs still require it. I don’t see a digital equivalent with longevity at this point, but have not had the curiousity to inquire.

    2. Alan Avatar

      “One had to anticipate what their camera would do…” You still have to anticipate what the camera will do. Yes, you can check out the histogram and reshoot if you are shooting landscape or animal portraits, but when you have sat for hours or days waiting for the critical moment of action you better be pretty confident that you have everything right, and you better have your finger on the button and be paying attention. You can optimize in Lightroom or Photoshop, but you aren’t going to be impressing anyone (least of all yourself) if you are constantly trying to fix blown highlights, blocked up shadows or soft focus. Or worse yet, you missed it all together because you glanced away for one second. You can’t ask the animal(s), “Hey, do that again!” The best photo tool you can have though, whether in the film days or now, is still “f-8 and be there” especially the “be there”.
      BTW, I processed (including slides) and printed my own stuff for close to forty years.
      SB is right. Seeing the magic in the darkroom is one of the coolest things you can experience. Also, there is nothing that you can do in Photoshop that you could not do, with enough skill and effort, in the traditional darkroom.

    3. Nancy Avatar

      +I think for most “photographers” their pictures are very private, and never go beyond their own home. A friend and I had this very discussion last night. We both have boxes of slides, photos, and negatives that will never see the light of day+

      You “framed” that just right Immer!

      A thick fog rising out of the bay in San Francisco, covering all but the tips of the Golden Gate bridge. A riot of Bluebonnets, just after sunrise in Texas. A full moon coming to rest one morning over the mountains, on a nearby pass.

      A Mulie doe, just as she’s clearing a fenceline, and my old dog (who’s since passed) playing tag with a couple of mule deer fawns along that same fenceline.

      The rare opportunity of following (and snapping a few photos off) of a cranky badger, to its hole on a hillside, where it whirled around, and then laid down, paws tucked under its head, waiting patiently for me to take a few more shots.

  21. Immer Treue Avatar
    Immer Treue


    As ever, obliged for the education.

    1. Harley Avatar

      I miss my 35mm…

      1. Woody Avatar

        Harley, I have one I will sell you – 35mm Mimiya, 1980 vintage and close up lenses; I even have some Kodak film for it in the freezer.

        Did you notice that T. Remington recently stated that wolves were varmits, plain and simple?

        1. Harley Avatar

          I see how this is. You court me with a camera and then you lower the boom! mmmhmm….

          I have a Canon AE1 Program complete with zoom lens, flash, the whole nine yards. Problem is, somehow light is getting in. The last time I used it for pictures (as opposed to the nice paper weight it’s been lately) half the picture was exposed. I need a good old fashioned camera repair. I can find a place for a turn table, a typewriter but not for a camera repair.
          I even priced a new camera to see what it would cost for me to replace the set up I have and about had a heart attack at the cost.

          Eons ago I was the photo editor for our school paper. Developing and printing my own pictures was such a high that I actually considered photo journalism for a career. Ended up as a Special Ed teacher instead lol!

          1. Savebears Avatar

            Harley, there is a good quality film camera repair shop in Spokane, WA, I still have film cameras around here that I on occasion, and I have hundreds of rolls of film in the freezer Provia and Velvia..

          2. Savebears Avatar

            I forgot to mention, from your description is sounds like your camera has a very simple problem to fix, the light seals have gone bad, it happens to most film cameras as they get older, you can pick up a light seal kit on ebay for less than $20 and it is pretty easy to clean out your old ones and replace them with the new seals.

    2. WM Avatar


      I likewise enjoy your contributions and insights. Brandenburg has some wonderful images, and I particularly like his IR and B&W stuff. Contrast and texture are great attributes to an image that get lost when color is present.

  22. Immer Treue Avatar
    Immer Treue


    As suggested by my friend, after seeing what he has (Canon Eos 20D) which I guess was a semi or entry level professional model, look at eBay. You can probably get one of those for ~ $300 or so and from what He told me, was a $1200 to $1500 camera. Only kicker is, the lenses from your Canon AE 1 are not compatible.

    For that matter, you can probably get a used AE 1 on eBay for fifty bucks or so which I would think would be under the price of repair for your camera. If all else fails, and I take the digital plunge, we can make arrangements and you can have my old AE 1.

    1. Savebears Avatar

      I have a Canon 20D, it is a great camera, if you learn the system, it produces good pictures, but I still prefer the look of a good slide.

      1. WM Avatar

        Canon, in my opinion, is the better manufacturer of higher end digital cameras and lenses. Better customer service and less “attitude” than Nikon.

        Art Wolfe, a well recognized wildlife and landscape photographer here in Seattle switched from Nikon to Canon several years ago. You may have seen his Public Television program – “Travels to the Edge.” Great photogapher, all around nice guy and good will ambassador on his outings.

    2. Harley Avatar

      I had a brief love affair with the Cannon Eos, my sister-in-law has one but it was the incompatibility of the lenses that kept me from making the final step into a marriage heh heh!

      I have considered sending my baby away to get fixed if I couldn’t find a place here in the Chicagoland area. However, this will have to wait til the fall.
      Ralph has my email and my permission if either of you wish to contact me that way for more information on this subject. Thank you both!

  23. Elk275 Avatar

    I just got done reading both the Billings Gazette and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. There was two good articles in the Billings Gazette about a modern photographer using 100 year old plus photographic technology for his Yellowstone Park photographic trips. What was in the printed paper seen’s to be condense on the online version. Maybe some can find the full articles. There were two long detailed stories.

    For all the modern digital photographers there are still a few who use old fashion equipment and technology.

  24. Immer Treue Avatar
    Immer Treue


    Contrast and texture! Think of all the great B&W photos and for that matter movies. Some of those old Ford/Wayne Westerns are masterpieces (my opinion). Back when I was ~ 18/19 or so I was taking a drawing class for humanity credits. Never really could draw, but Progess was made… The professor asked if anybody wanted to stay around for he had a copy of a film, I don’t remember the name, but it was an old black and white film of the trial of Joan of Arc. I could be wrong, but I think it starred Falcon Eddy. I was really impressed with the film…

    B&W film started to disappear or at least get quite a bit scarce some time ago. When the time comes, up here in N. MN with 5-6 months of snow, it will provide ample time for B&W photography.

    1. WM Avatar

      Ansel Adams wrote a three volume series – The Camera; The Film and The Print in the early 1980’s. Excellent primer on what photography is/was all about. Not a color photo to be found within. It was all about the method of creation of the image.

      And his images endure during this time of unprecidented change. I wonder what he would have to say about digital medium, or even the flood of those passing themselves off as photographers today, with most never understanding what they are doing (just letting the fancy adjustments on the camera do the thinking for them) in nearly every way except pointing the camera in the direction of whatever is being recorded and tripping the shutter.

      Who needs talent, when the art is now defined largely by bigger and more expensive glass and a camera with lots of dodads? But, Alan is, of course, right about “being there and being ready” for the exceptional wildlife shot.

      1. JB Avatar

        “Who needs talent, when the art is now defined largely by bigger and more expensive glass and a camera with lots of dodads?”

        Modern digital cameras certainly make it easier to get the proper exposure with the subject in focus, but you should not confuse tools with talent. A person with exceptional tools and no talent will still make lousy photographs most of the time.

        I’ll never forget an experience I had shooting in Antelope Canyon, in N. Arizona… My colleague and I had spent close to an hour trying different angles in one small section of the canyon, when a group of tourists meandered through with some really exceptional equipment (5K digital bodies, with 1K lenses). Interesting thing was, they never even stopped moving to shoot; just walked through while depressing the shutter willy-nilly (lower Antelope is quite dark and requires a tripod to get sharp images). I made these photos with a (then) $800 Rebel XT, a $150 tripod, and the 18-55mm lens that came with the camera. I would put them up against any photo any of those tourists made that day.

        Any fool with a camera is capable of “taking” a photograph (and some of them will, by chance, be good); however, only someone who knows what they are doing is capable of consistently “making” great photographs–and you don’t need a $5,000 digital camera (or a $10K large format camera) to do it!

  25. Immer Treue Avatar
    Immer Treue

    How about Falconetti?


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.

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Ralph Maughan