Bear conflict low in Yellowstone and park wants to keep it that way

JACKSON, Wyo. – With more bears around than ever before, Yellowstone officials are pleased that recorded conflicts in 2018 were down somewhat from previous years. Still, the park is not resting on it’s laurels.

According to the park’s annual bear report released recently, the number of conflicts involving humans and bears was low in 2018. This, despite the challenges of managing visitors eager to photograph wildlife in Yellowstone National Park.

“There were few bear-human conflicts inside of the park in 2018,” said Yellowstone biologist Kerry Gunther. “However, managing visitors that stopped to view and photograph bears foraging in roadside meadows and thus creating large bear jams was a considerable management challenge.”

There were 1,627 grizzly and black bear sightings in the park in 2018.

Yellowstone Youth Conservation Corps members installing a bear-proof food storage box. Courtesy NPS

Yellowstone personnel continue to work on installing bear-proof food storage boxes in all 1,907 roadside campground sites. These boxes improve visitor safety and promote the conservation of black and grizzly bears by reducing the need to kill bears in management actions.

To date, employees like Kerry Gunther and Yellowstone Youth Conservation Corps members have installed 943 boxes throughout the park. This project is funded in part by the park’s official nonprofit partner Yellowstone Forever.

“A fed bear is a dead bear. Bear-proof food storage boxes reduce the potential for attacks and property damage, enhance the visitor experience by making food storage regulations easy to comply with, and protect the bears that people come to the park to see,” Gunther said.

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