Time to Step Up the Bear Patrol (or Black Bears in Yellowstone)
Well, I did not see a grizzly in Yellowstone. Which may be a good thing, since it seems like a lot of those involved in fatal bear attacks (mostly from grizzlies lately) in the park have been from Michigan. (Yeah, I’m in Iowa not but I AM NOT an Iowan!) We did see a black bear though. To be more specific a black bear cub.
We were driving along the north loop and went on the terrace loop (this is closed in the winter and don’t even think of taking an RV on it, way too narrow/rugged). We came around a corner near a steep cliff that rose to the right and saw a line of cars stopped. If you haven’t been to Yellowstone one of the easiest ways to see animals is to see where a car is stopped (or multiple cars), go stand next to all the people with cameras and ask what they’re looking at. (Or you can go in the off-season and do all the hard work yourself). If you like to mess with people stop your car, get out, and jump around excitedly pointing at nothing. See how many people will stop (probably quite a few).
Anyway, we started walking toward a woman with a camera. I asked what she was looking at, assuming it was a mountain goat given the terrain. She calmly said “Oh, a bear. Right there.” She then pointed over my shoulder to a black bear cub less than 30 feet away from me. My first thought was “Oh shit. That thing is close. And it’s not grown, momma bear is close and probably pissed.” The other members of my car came up as I was walking back to the car, hurriedly. While still walking, quickly, I told them about the bear. We all agreed he car was the safest location.
Now, as we were walking back to the car (it wasn’t very far, maybe 50 feet away) 3 kids come running past us, a worn-out dad not far behind. My husband was kind enough to tell him “Hey, there’s a bear right there.” He looked confused, then he focused on the cub and his eyes got very large. Her started gesticulating and yelled “KIDS! CAR! NOW!” Fortunately his kids were not at the age where they would ignore everything he said and they returned to their car too. Why the other people were out that close is a wonder to me, I guess survival instinct doesn’t run deep in all of us. All I know is don’t mess with a cub, the mom’s sure to be close.
The next day my husband and I wanted to hike a small trail near the loop and weren’t able to, a nice park ranger wouldn’t let us go as there was a mother bear and two cubs near the trail. I’m pretty sure it was the same group of bears. The only one we saw the day before was one of the cubs, no sign of the others but they were probably close.
And if you’re feeling mopey that you’re not in Yellowstone RIGHT NOW this should make you feel better: it’s snowing there. Yes, May 25 and they and Bozeman and the surrounding area are under a winter storm watch for the next 3 days. Brrrrr!
Sorry there aren’t too many bear pictures, here’s a landscape from Yellowstone:
To read about the Yellowstone fire of 1988 go here.