Grizzly Bear Kills Hiker in Yellowstone -Apologies for no recent postings. We have been so busy that my little blog has gone by the wayside. There has been one story dominating the headlines of Yellowstone last week, this week, and inevitably the future. An "experienced" hiker was killed in Yellowstone by a grizzly bear while hiking on a popular route near Lake Hotel. Lance Crosby, 63, died of traumatic injuries sustained from the bear encounter. He was a seasonal worker for Medcor, the company responsible for running the medical facilities in Yellowstone. Lance was on his fifth season in the park.
I have many issues with this story. Why was the "experienced" hiker by himself, without bear spray, in one of the most bear rich areas of Yellowstone? This doesn't make any sense. The hiker should have had bear spray and been hiking in a group. Maybe it was arrogance, ignorance, or just the lack of common sense that put the hiker at risk. Lance Crosby would have been in Yellowstone during the last bear caused fatalities in the park. Certainly the lessons learned from those tragic incidents would have influenced Lance's behavior and decision making. No one will ever know!
We need to stop naming the bears of Yellowstone. The bear involved in the killing of Lance Crosby was named "Blaze". "Blaze" was an older female with two cubs. The sow grizzly was often seen around Yellowstone Lake and Hayden Valley. Her tolerance to people allowed many visitors, photographers, and animal lovers to enjoy the great bear over the years. I understand people our fond of wildlife and become emotionally invested in these wild animals. However, when we name the animals or humanize wildlife, emotions and personal feelings become irrational or more heart felt when tragedy strikes. If this sow did not have a name, and was one of the random 700+ grizzlies in the Yellowstone ecosystem would the public's attention be heightened? Would the passion be this polarized?
Given the circumstances, I reluctantly agree to the euthanizing of the bear. The sow killed Lance, consumed part of his body, and cached him for later feedings. These behaviors are predatory and not defensive. We can't have predatory grizzlies in the park due to human safety. If the attack was defensive, "Blaze" would have simply neutralized the perceived threat and moved on. In my humble opinion, no bear in the Yellowstone ecosystem should be euthanized for exhibiting defensive behaviors. They are bears being bears. Wildlife being wildlife. We come to Yellowstone and enter the wilderness in hopes of seeing wildlife in their natural settings. Natural settings includes natural behaviors. Animals defending their cubs, off spring, territories, and perceived safety is a natural behavior. Don't harm the animals for being animals!!!
Once again, if you are worried about hiking in bear country, hire a guide. If you don't want a guide, hike in groups, carry bear spray, make noise, and use common sense. Contact the park service if you have any questions. Be safe!