Yellowstone National Park Bear Sightings

Bears were once commonly observed along roadsides and within developed areas of Yellowstone National Park (Yellowstone National Park). Bears were attracted to these areas by the availability of human foods in the form of handouts and unsecured camp groceries and garbage. Although having bears readily visible along roadsides and within developed areas was very popular with the park visitors, it was also considered to be the primary cause of an average of 48 bear-caused human injuries per year from 1930 through 1969.

In 1970, Yellowstone National Park initiated an intensive bear management program with the objectives of restoring the grizzly bear and black bear populations to subsistence on natural forage and reducing bear-caused injuries to humans. As part of the bear management program implemented in 1970, regulations prohibiting the feeding of bears were strictly enforced, as were regulations requiring that human food be kept secured from bears. In addition, garbage cans were bear-proofed and garbage dumps within the park were closed.

Although bears are less frequently observed along roadsides and within developed areas today than in the past, many people still see bears each year. From 1979 - 2002 over 31,000 bear sightings have been reported to park managers.

Grizzly bears are active primarily during nocturnal (night time) and crepuscular (dawn and dusk) time periods 1985. Look for grizzly bears with a high power spotting scope in open meadows just after sunrise and just before sunset. Grizzly bears are most commonly observed along the road corridor from Tower south through Canyon, Lake, and Fishing Bridge, to the East Entrance of the park. Grizzly bears are also commonly observed in the area south and east of Yellowstone Lake and in the Gallatin Mountains in the northwest corner of the park. Black bears are active primarily during crepuscular and diurnal (daylight) time periods (Mack 1988). Look for black bears in small openings within or near forested areas. Black bears are most commonly observed on the northern range along the road corridor from Mammoth east through Tower to the Northeast Entrance of the park. Black bears are also commonly observed in the Old Faithful, Madison, and Canyon areas as well as the Bechler region in the southwest corner of the park.

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