Moose, WY – Out of concern for public safety, Grand Teton National Park staff euthanized a 3-year-old female black bear on Thursday afternoon, June 11. Earlier in the day, the bear exhibited bold behavior and appeared to have little concern regarding the presence of humans and their activities, which prompted park officials to make the difficult decision to remove her from the population in order to reduce future threats to people and their safety. This is the first bear to be euthanized in Grand Teton this year. Two black bears were euthanized in 2014.
The brown-colored bear climed into the open trunk of a vehicle after guests of Jenny Lake Lodge removed their luggage and entered their cabin. While in the trunk, the bear found food items which she ate. She then climbed on top of the same car where witnesses reported that the bear appeared to try and gain entry to the passenger compartment. The bear then proceeded to visit other cabins before she ripped into items left in a parked housekeeping cart and stole a purse which she carried off into the woods. Witnesses also reported that the bear stood on its hind legs and pressed its paws and face against windows and doors of several cabins in an apparent attempt to enter.
The bear was estimated to weight approximately 125 pounds and had no ear tags or other identification that would mark it as a previously captured bear. While attempting to catch the bear, Grand Teton personnel closed off the Jenny Lake scenic loop road for about one hour. After capturing the bear, park biologists transported it to a remote area so they could gather information on its physical condition. Biologists then euthanized the bear using established park protocols.
According to a press release by the park, the Grand Teton staff has seen numerous food storage violations by visitors while using the String Lake beaches and picnic area including unattended food. Because of the repeated reports of black bears getting easy access to coolers and tote bags, park officials have discussed the possibility of food restrictions.
Officials state that once bears acquire human food, they often lose the fear of humans and can become dangerous. Because of this, they are asking visitors to keep in mind that carelessness can result in the endangerment of people and also in the bear’s death.