Yellowstone's Bears Hungry, Bloodthirsty

You might want to reconsider feeding the bears
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 22, 2010 1:12 PM CDT
Yellowstone's Bears Hungry, Bloodthirsty
Grizzly cubs whose mother killed one man and wounded two others are seen in a holding pen in ZooMontana in Billings, Mont., Monday, Aug. 2, 2010.   (AP Photo/Matt Brown)

Remember those admonishments not to feed the bears? Well, the grizzlies at Yellowstone are hungry this year, reports the AP, and cranky as a result—which doesn't bode so well for human visitors. Two people have already died in 2010 after encountering starving grizzlies. "Pack your bear spray: there's going to be run-ins," advises one scientist. The problem is the decimation of the bears' favorite food: As winter approaches, they feast on nuts from whitebark pinecones to pack on the pounds for hibernation.

But some 70% of those trees have been killed off by beetles who are surviving milder winter temps, leaving ravenous bears looking for an alternate source of protein. "We can expect more conflicts and we are getting it," says a scientist. To compound the problem, the bears themselves are dying off; Yellowstone's grizzlies were just ordered back on the endangered species list.
(More Yellowstone National Park stories.)

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