The US Fish and Wildlife Service is asking people to avoid the Togwotee Pass area in Wyoming for the remainder of the month so that it can "conduct targeted hazing operations on grizzly bear 863." USA Today reports the bear, known by locals as "Felicia," and her two cubs have made a home near a 55-mile highway in Yellowstone and have been repeatedly approached by humans. "When this happens, bears may become aggressive and threaten human safety," explains a press release. County 10 reports the USFWS explains it will use loud noises, and projectiles like paintballs or beanbags—"directed at large areas of fatty tissue—to attempt to scare off the bears. If that doesn't work, the remaining options will be relocating the bears or euthanizing them, though the USFWS says euthanasia would be a last resort.
It explains that "if people stop only in legal highway pullouts, and remain in vehicles, hazing would not be necessary." But when people get out and walk up to bears, especially those with cubs, the potential they will charge sharply increases, and once they do, relocation or euthanasia are necessary. A Change.org petition swings back hard at the USFWS' assertions, stating Felicia has displayed no aggression nor "sought out human food rewards" but seems content to eat the clover on the roadside. "When did it become unacceptable for bears to simply exist near the roadside in a national forest?" it asks. It points out that relocation is risky and it's highly likely at least one of the bears wouldn't make it. The petition has garnered more than 40,000 signatures. (Read more grizzly bear stories.)