Tourists fed grizzly from their car at Grand Teton – and the bear had to be relocated

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A grizzly at Grand Teton National Park found a snack from tourists — so it had to be relocated, park officials said.

Visitors at the Wyoming national park fed a grizzly bear June 12 from their car, rangers said. It wasn’t the only recent incident that made officials think the bear was too reliant on humans for food, park officials said.

“Grand Teton National Park staff recently relocated a subadult grizzly bear within the park after the bear received a food reward in two incidents due to irresponsible human actions,” rangers said in a Friday news release.

On June 11, a camper told park rangers that a grizzly walked through a campsite and sniffed a picnic table and tent. No one was inside at the time, but the bear did put its paws on the tent.

There wasn’t any damage to the tent, and the bear ran away after visitors started yelling.

A couple days later, however, the grizzly got into a trash can that was left unattended and unsecured at a campsite. The bear got trash and a drink at the campsite, park officials said.

“All reports and evidence indicated that the same grizzly bear was involved with each incident,” rangers said.

Park officials captured the male grizzly, which is about 2 and a half years old, and relocated it to the west side of Jackson Lake by boat.

Feeding wildlife at Grand Teton is illegal and dangerous, Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Chip Jenkins said. Both incidents are being investigated.

“A food storage violation citation with a mandatory court appearance was issued to the individual that had the unattended trash and drink,” park officials said. “The reported feeding of the bear from a vehicle is under investigation.”

Bears that get food from humans can often lose their fear of people and seek them out as an easy source of food. The bears can become more aggressive toward people, and the animals may need to be killed.

Campers and picnickers at Grand Teton should only set out items that they plan to use immediately.

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“If a bear approaches, food items can be quickly gathered and the opportunity for the bear to receive a food reward is removed,” park officials said. “Visitors should store food and scented items in bear-resistant food lockers that are located throughout the park or in a hard-sided vehicle.”

Grand Teton National Park is bear country, and tourists could encounter bears at any time. Tourists shouldn’t run or climb trees if they come face to face with a bear. Instead, they should back away slowly and be prepared to use bear spray.

“Bear behavior is complex,” park rangers said. “Like people, bears react differently to each situation. Avoid encounters by being alert and making noise.”

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