Since the opening of Glacier National Park in 1910, there were no reported fatal bear attacks until one summer night in 1967—when two grizzlies attacked campers and killed two young women. This was the first fatality from a bear attack since … Many researchers say they were right: Within a few years, dozens of Yellowstone-area grizzlies were killed or sent to zoos, contributing to a population drop that led to their inclusion in 1975 on the endangered species list. This is the first year they visit without her mother, and Mel is having a hard time adjusting. Here, in his own words, the 45-year-old physical therapist from Escondido, CA, shares the incredible story of their life-and-death struggle. “Some people said, we ought to go in there and hunt them all out. It was another ranger, and she had a horrifying message: A grizzly bear had mauled someone at the popular Granite Park guest chalet. 3rd-5th graders. Published Reviews. In the 57 years between Glacier National Park’s founding and 1967, its resident grizzlies had rarely bothered human visitors. They’re produced by an industry that grew out of the Glacier attacks, Herrero said. And all those bear-proof garbage cans in national parks and elsewhere bears live? “If you set up a danger index ranging from zero to ten,” a ranger told the author Jack Olsen at the time, “where the butterfly is zero and the rattlesnake is ten, the grizzlies of Glacier Park would have to rate somewhere between zero and one.”. It fundamentally changed how we view our relationship with bears.”. She was everything a bear should be—wary and wild, an animal that saw us two humans not as providers or prey, but, rightly, as untrustworthy interlopers to be avoided. She hesitated 25 feet out, more quizzical than aggressive. At the count of three, the executioners fired. Grades. “Glacier is where my heart is, but it’s not wilderness anymore,” says Dave Shea, who worked 36 seasons in the park before retiring. “It’s really been quite successful – not only saving people’s lives, but also saving bears’ lives.”. Earlier this summer, while hiking a Yellowstone ridgeline with a friend, I spotted a female grizzly trundling across a snowfield a quarter-mile downwind. Glacier, a park that had recorded just 110,000 visitors between 1910 and 1920, was in the late 1960s welcoming nearly 1 million people a year, and more of them were heading into the backcountry. An aggressive education program also bolstered awareness. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason. And once again, they say, the warnings of independent scientists have fallen upon deaf ears. Yes, the offending individuals had been killed, but some dissatisfied officials demanded the species’ total extermination from the lower 48. Who were parks for, anyway—people or predators? Once again, grizzlies face an uncertain nutritional future, as whitebark pine trees, whose nuts provide critical calories, are being ravaged by a climate change–driven beetle epidemic. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, a broader reprisal against Glacier’s grizzlies seemed inevitable. Glacier’s approach was scarcely better. Shea was among those who fired at the third, a sow with two cubs and a ripped paw pad that would have been painful, possibly increasing its aggression. News of the maulings, splashed across newspapers nationwide, was a public relations crisis for the Interior Department. Granite Park Chalet, a mountaintop site reachable by trail, had so many visitors in 1967 that its incinerator could not contain all their trash, and managers discarded the excess in a gully behind the facility. Glacier had been packed with visitors all summer. until tonight. Since the opening of Glacier National Park in 1910, there were no reported fatal bear attacks until one summer night in 1967, when two grizzlies attacked campers and killed two young women. That illusion was shattered 50 years ago this week, when two grizzly attacks stunned the Park Service and forever transformed America’s relationship with its most iconic carnivore. To inspire active participation in the world outside through award-winning coverage of the sports, people, places, adventure, discoveries, health and fitness, gear and apparel, trends and events that make up an active lifestyle. . No grizzly has ever killed a human in Glacier before . They hiked several … Help fund our award-winning journalism with a contribution today. “We’ve certainly had our share of other types of fatalities, but none of them seemed to live like that particular event does,” said John Waller, Glacier’s bear biologist. It was July 1967. These days, Glacier regularly closes trails so grizzlies can access berry patches or carcasses without running into people. Later, trapping and relocating prevailed, until studies revealed that the animals usually returned to where they were caught. “It was a watershed moment for bear management, not just in Glacier but the whole National Park Service. In the 57 years between Glacier National Park’s founding and 1967, its resident grizzlies had rarely bothered human visitors. I stumbled across this documentary the other day. Forcing rubbish-addicted bears to go cold turkey, the brothers warned, could lead to “tragic personal injury, costly damages, and a drastic reduction in the number of grizzlies.”. No grizzly has ever killed a human in Glacier before—until tonight. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google. Read more about our policy. In Glacier’s early years, it drew scarcely 4,000 visitors a year; in 2016, it hosted 2.9 million. The hordes inevitably mean that it is harder to keep bears and people apart, often because the people don’t heed park advice. So, here ya go! Bears that linger around campgrounds face a battery of hazing techniques from rangers—yapping dogs, exploding cracker shells, gun-propelled bean bags—designed to make them fear us strange, hairless bipeds. The Glacier maulings also inspired a generation of scientists. But this year is different. Why have models of Colorado’s coronavirus trajectory been off? They had witnessed five bears dine on trash at the chalet days before, and both had expressed concern at park headquarters. CLICK HERE TO TURN ON NOTIFICATIONS. Those attacks, which took place 50 years ago this summer, set off an immediate quest at Glacier to understand how a tragedy of such infinitesimal odds could have happened. Eleven-year-old Melody Vega and her family come to Glacier National Park every year. Gildart photographed this couple encountering a bear in Glacier in 2002. ), “It’s hard to go into a cleaner place than Yellowstone or Glacier today,” says longtime grizzly advocate Louisa Willcox. “The overarching problem is too many humans.”. Yellowstone’s managers took heed as well, raising food poles, establishing dedicated backcountry sites, and closing the famous open-pit dumps. Thank you. Eleven-year old Mel goes to Glacier National Park in the summer of 1967 with her grandfather Pops and younger brother Kevin. Glacier National Park ranger Bert Gildart with a grizzly bear that had been shot after the "night of the grizzlies." The closures were far more fatal for wildlife: Between 1968 and 1973, a staggering 189 Yellowstone grizzlies met their ends at human hands.
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