Monday, August 10, 2015

Yellowstone Will Euthanize Bear Tired of Feeding Cubs from Stolen Picnic Baskets

Grizzly bear with cubs
 Actually Yellowstone officials will probably put down both cubs along with their overprotective mother after a tragic incident in which a hiker was killed. I'm a suburban mom, not a wilderness expert. So I do sympathize with the argument of park officials regarding their concern for the safety of 3 million visitors a year. Their argument is that having fed off the hiker's corpse, the mama bear will teach her cubs to see all humans as fast food (click here).

I feel dreadful about this man's death. And yet the decision to euthanize the bears both breaks my heart and raises troubling questions.

 I apologize for not putting my queries more delicately. But aren't wild bears scrounging up food for their young supposed to eat mammals luckless enough to cross their path alone and without bear spray or any other defensive device? Does the "bear management program" at Yellowstone secretly tame the bears so they grow up believing that swatting trout from streams and stealing picnic baskets are their main food sources? In short, are our national parks just glorified zoos? Rather than keep the grizzlies in cages, are they instead cognitively conditioned in some artificial or even objectionable way?  Would it be through some kind of electroshock or aversion therapy by animal psychologists working at Yellowstone? Park officials could be  training these bears to feed their cubs on  leftover cupcakes tossed in the trash but not the walking steak dinners that threw them away? 

If such is the case, why not insist that all tourists to the park be given a 15 minute survival course and pepper or bear spray?  At least that way, the cubs could grow up to be bears rather than facsimiles of a Yogi the bear cartoon character for whom the consolation prize for those failing to make the cut would be death.
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