Yellowstone: Conflicts involving bears, humans low in 2018
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YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

Yellowstone: Conflicts involving bears, humans low in 2018

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Bear jams

Interactions between bears and tourists have increased in Yellowstone National Park and in the forests surrounding the region. Keeping them separated continues to be a challenge for bear managers.

CODY — Despite the challenges of managing visitors eager to photograph wildlife in Yellowstone National Park, park officials say the number of conflicts involving humans and bears was low in 2018, according to the park’s annual bear report.

Rangers were notified of 1,627 grizzly and black bear sightings in the park between March 10, 2018, the first sighting of bear activity of the spring, through Dec. 20, 2018, the last black bear sighting of the year, The Cody Enterprise reported.

“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.”

More than 4 million people visit the 3,400-square-mile park each year.

“As visitation increases, park managers should expect an increasing number of bears to become habituated to people and a higher level of habituation among those bears, thereby causing more bear jams and jams of longer duration,” the report said.

Park officials counted 240 “bear jams” in 2018 but only eight human-bear conflicts. In one of those instances, a hiker was injured during an accidental encounter with a bear on a trail.

Rangers removed 87 wildlife carcasses that could have attracted bears and installed 162 food storage lockers in 2018.

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