‘A Bear Doesn’t Care,’ but Yellowstone knows you do


Yellowstone National Park wants to increase the number of people carrying bear spray, and its officials have come up with a new engaging, celebrity-filled campaign called “A Bear Doesn’t Care.”

Whether you’re a hiker, backpacker, angler, photographer, wolf watcher or geyser gazer, the campaign encourages you to carry bear spray.

“A bear doesn’t care how far you’re hiking, if you’re just fishing, or even if you work here,” said Yellowstone Supt. Dan Wenk. “No matter who you are or what you are doing, you should always carry bear spray and know how to use it.”

Recent data collected by park scientists revealed that only 28 percent of visitors who enter the park’s backcountry carry bear spray. Studies show that bear spray is more than 90 percent effective in stopping an aggressive bear and, in fact, it’s the most effective deterrent when used in combination with our regular safety recommendations—be alert, make noise, hike in groups of three or more, and do not run if you encounter a bear.

“Yellowstone visitors care deeply about preserving bears and observing them in the wild,” said Kerry Gunther, the park’s bear management specialist. “Carrying bear spray is the best way for visitors to participate in bear conservation because reducing potential conflicts protects both people and bears.”

Beginning this summer, look for posters in retail outlets, ads in magazines, and images on social media of visitors and local celebrities carrying bear spray while recreating in the park.

Local celebrities who appear in the campaign share the message that bear spray is essential for safety in bear country. Initial poster designs include alpinist Conrad Anker, artist Jennifer Lowe-Anker, and National Geographic photographer Ronan Donovan. Actor Jeff Bridges, writer Todd Wilkinson, fly fisherman Craig Mathews and others will join the campaign in the coming months.

Visit go.nps.gov/bearspray for information about bear encounters and directions for how to use bear spray.

Construction scheduled on Grand Prismatic area trails


In early June, trail crews will begin constructing an official trail and overlook to replace the many existing social trails on the hills south of Grand Prismatic Spring. This is the first of a two-year project and during construction, three areas will be closed to the public:

  • The hills immediately south of Grand Prismatic Spring
  • The Fairy Falls Trailhead and parking lot (located one mile south of Midway Geyser Basin)
  • The Fountain Freight Road between the parking lot and the Fairy Falls Trail junction

During this closure, there is no access to the Fairy Falls parking lot and trailhead from the Fountain Freight Road. In addition, the area east of the Grand Loop Road around Midway Bluff is closed permanently due to resource damage from visitor use.

These closures will not affect access to the boardwalks around the Midway Geyser Basin and hikers can access Fairy Falls using the Fountain Freight Road Trailhead located north of Midway Geyser Basin. Be prepared for a much longer hike: 8.8 miles round-trip rather than 5 miles round-trip.

Cyclists can ride from the Fountain Freight Road Trailhead as far as the Fairy Falls Trail Junction (6 miles round-trip), but there is no through traffic to the Fairy Falls Trailhead. Bicycles are not allowed on the Fairy Falls Trail and you must complete this section on foot (2.4 miles round-trip).

During winter, skiers will be able to traverse the Fountain Freight Road to visit Fairy Falls and other destinations.

Once the project is complete, a new trail and overlook will allow people to safely enjoy this popular destination that provides spectacular views of Grand Prismatic Spring and Excelsior Geyser.

Also note that trails along the Fountain Freight Road and in the Fairy Falls area are closed until May 28 due to bear management restrictions.

A map of Grand Prismatic area closures is available at nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/gpareaclosures.htm

Park Service asks visitors to respect wildlife, safety regulations


In recent weeks, visitors to Yellowstone National Park have been engaging in inappropriate, dangerous and illegal behavior with wildlife. These actions endanger people and have resulted in the death of a newborn bison calf.

In early May, park visitors were cited for placing a newborn bison calf in their vehicle and transporting it to a park facility because of their misplaced concern for the animal’s welfare. In terms of human safety, this was a dangerous activity because adult animals are very protective of their young and will act aggressively to defend them. In addition, interference by people can cause mothers to reject their offspring.

Park rangers in this case tried repeatedly to reunite the newborn bison calf with the herd and these efforts failed. The bison calf was later euthanized because it was abandoned and causing a dangerous situation by continually approaching people and cars along the roadway.

Another visitor approached within arm’s length of an adult bison in the Old Faithful area, captured in a recent viral video. Another video featured visitors posing for pictures with bison at extremely unsafe and illegal distances.

Last year, five visitors were seriously injured when they approached bison too closely. Bison injure more visitors to Yellowstone than any other animal.

Approaching wild animals can drastically affect their wellbeing and, in some cases, their survival. Park regulations require that you stay at least 25 yards (23 meters) away from all wildlife—including bison, elk and deer—and at least 100 yards (91 meters) from bears and wolves.

Disregarding these regulations can result in fines, injury and even death. The safety of these animals, as well as human safety, depends on everyone using good judgment and following these simple rules.

Visit nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/safety for more information about safety in Yellowstone National Park.