Nat. Park Revises Wildlife-Watching Guidelines After Recent Bear Attacks

Officials at the Grand Teton National Park have revised their wildlife-watching guidelines in response to the spate of recent bear attacks in national parks and across the country.

From this story in National Parks Traveler:
"...The need for the revisions arose as more and more visitors took to the roofs of their vehicles to photograph bears and, in at least two instances, the bears took exception and charged the vehicles, according to park officials. While park guidelines long have said visitors should not approach within 100 yards of bears and wolves, or within 25 yards from other animals, including nesting birds, the updated regulation now specifies that "remaining, viewing, or engaging in any activity within 100 yards of bears or wolves" is against park regulations. With highly photogenic grizzly sows No. 399 and No. 610 -- and, this year, their five cubs -- regularly frequenting the park's front country, more and more photographers realized that they could get some great shots of them if they just waited long enough, Grand Teton spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs said Thursday.
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"They sit and park for 12 hours a day where they think they're going to get shots of these bears," she said. "Other people who drive by think, 'Oh, that's a great thing to do.'" The result is not just road shoulders lined with cars and trucks, but with people sitting atop those cars and trucks hoping for a great photograph to return home with, said Ms. Skaggs. When the bears arrive to this mass of humanity, problems can quickly arise, she said.

_I drove through a national park. Once. I foolishly thought cutting through the park would shave a few hours off the long drive back to Oklahoma. I entered the park with a full tank of gas and a fully-provisioned truck. I emerged 17 days later, confused and emaciated, talking gibberish and reeking of diesel fumes, with an image of the ass-end of a never-ending train of RV's permanently burned into my retinas. I couldn't imagine how bad it would be with thousands of vehicles parked on the side of the road for hours on end, waiting on a bear.

Reaction? Perhaps we should ban vehicles altogether? Build a huge parking lot at the entrance of our parks and issue each visitor a bicycle and a can of bear spray, make them sign a waiver, give them a map and then send them on their way to determine for themselves just how close is too close?

Just a thought...