Advice for Fishing and Hiking in Bear Country

Guest Blogger: Clay Cunningham, Cody WY, Former National Park Superintendent

Part of my career with the National Park Service included time as the Yellowstone Madison River sub-district ranger in the 1960s, the East District ranger in the North Cascades from 1970 to 1975, and the superintendent of Denali National Park and Preserve from September 1980 until March 1989. During the past 32 years I lived and worked where black and grizzly bears and bison and moose live. This article is what I learned from research, observations of animal behavior, speaking to mauled victims and having been personally charged by a grizzly on three different occasions. I was never mauled by a bear.

Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, North Cascades National Park and all the national parks in Alaska have grizzly bears. Yellowstone, Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota and both state and national parks in South Dakota have many wild bison. The bears and bison sometimes attack park visitors. Hunters in the areas surrounding parks have also endured attacks by a grizzly. The possibility of a grizzly bear attack is virtually guaranteed if you encounter a sow grizzly with cubs, and many grizzlies outside the park have learned during hunting season that the sound of rifle fire could mean an elk or deer has been shot. The grizzly moves in the direction of the rifle fire because it could find a dead animal or its gut pile to feed upon.

Continue reading → Advice for Fishing and Hiking in Bear Country

Bear Charge

Guest Blogger: Clay Cunningham, Cody, Wyoming, retired National Park Superintendent

bear charge pelican_ck_signLocation: Pelican Creek, Yellowstone National Park, 7,700 foot altitude
When: Summer 1968
Who: Clay Cunningham, Madison Sub-district ranger, Yellowstone

Yellowstone’s Pelican Creek originates in the tributaries of the Mirror Plateau of Yellowstone then flows through the incredible wildlife habitat of Pelican Valley and empties into Yellowstone Lake at the 7,700 foot elevation level. The creek was a primary spawning area for Yellowstone cutthroat trout until 1998, and during subsequent years when the population was severely impacted by Whirling disease. This parasite attacks the nervous system of young fish and kills them outright or leaves them as easy prey for larger fish. In recent years, the trout that survived or had a natural defense against the disease have reproduced and the population is recovering.

Continue reading → Bear Charge