Honk! It’s the bear minimum you can do in Yellowstone

JACKSON HOLE, WYO — Increased bear-vehicle conflicts in Yellowstone National Park have authorities suggesting motorists honk their horn should a bruin approach.

“If a bear approaches or touches your car, honk your horn and drive away to discourage this behavior,” read a statement issued today from the park.

An incident last weekend has park biologists concerned for the safety of both visitors and bears. On Saturday, May 11, a black bear in the Tower-Roosevelt area not only approached several vehicles but stood up and put its paws on vehicles.

It was behavior reminiscent of bygone days when the park had dozens of these spectacle bears that learned to ‘beg’ for handouts. This particular case of curiosity exhibited by the black bear is something that could eventually get it into a bad habit.

In May of 2018, a black bear previously fed by people in the Mammoth Hot Springs area approached a vehicle, put its paws on a door and looked into the vehicle’s windows. Also last May, a grizzly bear near Yellowstone Lake went up to a car and played with its antenna.

While it may be an exciting experience enjoyed from the safety of one’s vehicle, allowing or encouraging wild animals to interact with humans could put everyone at risk. Bears that grow accustomed to people and view humans as a food source can become aggressive and may have to be killed.

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