Feeding baby bears in yellowstone

Old Yellowstone: Bear Feeding - Yellowstone Insider

Sean Reichard July 11, 2016 Bears, History, Issues

Once upon a time, bear feeding was as popular (if not more so) than geyser watching in Yellowstone National Park.

Indeed, the practice went beyond the occasional scrap tossed to an obliging bruin by the roadside. Bear feeding was a spectacle, with huge pits of garbage set up for bears to come root around for sustenance—to the delight of observers. And while you may think the practice as archaic, it was a central part of the Yellowstone experience (both advertised and felt) for decades.

As Old As The Park?

Bears have been the Yellowstone area for millennia, and were readily encountered by humans in the period before the establishment of Yellowstone National Park in 1872.

Indeed, the Hayden Geological Survey of 1871 encountered Yellowstone bears; several members of the party (notably geologist Albert Charles Peale) even ate bear meat on their trip, which Peale said “tasted deliciously.”

However, according to Paul Schullery, writing in Searching for Yellowstone, bears of all size and color were not initially well-regard within Park boundaries. With some exceptions, they were at best tolerated. Early superintendent Philetus W. Norris reported shooting some, and Schullery speculates some bears might have been tempted by poisoned carcasses set up to eradicate wolves and other scavenging canines. Nonetheless, the bear population in Yellowstone toward the end of the 19th century was, at the very least, noticeable, if not robust.

Garbage Dumps and “Hold-Up Bears”

According to Schullery, the spectacle of feeding bears garbage arose somewhat by accident. In the late 1880s, as hotels started cropping up around the Park, bears started hanging around hotel garbage dumps. By 1900, “the bear replaced Old Faithful as the most recognizable symbol of the park,” and bear feeding sites cropped up across the Park, rising with the number of visitors.

Although sites were scattered throughout the Park, two were particularly popular: the site near Lake Hotel and the site near Canyon Hotel. It makes sense, after all: the Hayden Valley was (and still is) one of the best places to see bears in the Park. Indeed, according to Schullery, the Canyon lot was particularly popular to see bears forage for garbage:

There, under the watchful and interpretive eye of an armed ranger, hundreds of visitors nightly watched crowds of grizzly bears paw through piles of hotel garbage, with the occasional added treat of a loud, spectacular fight to add a thrill to the evening.

Indeed, according to Horace M. Albright, Yellowstone superintendent in the 1920s and later second director of the National Park Service, bears also started appearing along roadsides, knowing people would stop and throw out food to them. From The Birth of the National Park Service: The Founding Years, 1913-33, narrated by Albright to Robert Cahn:

There was one animal the visitors never had any trouble seeing—bears. Even though most of Yellowstone’s big population of bears stayed in the wilds, there were a number of black bears that had become what we called “beggar bears,” or “hold-up bears.” They would hang around the roadsides waiting for visitors to stop their cars and throw out food.

Courtesy of American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY

“A Unique Souvenir to Take Home”

As mentioned, not all bear feedings took place at the garbage stations. There were many bears camped out by the roadside who would saunter up to wagons (and later, cars) to beg for scraps. Many visitors were only happy to oblige these “tame” animals, if by “tame” you mean “opportunistic.”

It’s an understatement to say that feeding wild bears at arm’s length was risky. In the best of circumstances, you could escape unscathed, but there were plenty of incidences in Yellowstone’s history were visitors were scratched up by these bears. Indeed, Albright had years of experience dealing with visitors who got scuffed up, embarrassed, and injured while feeding bears by hand.

And Albright, accordingly, had a perfect riposte for every “victim” he met who sustained injuries feeding/taunting bears in the Park:

These black bears were not vicious, but they were big and powerful, and could be dangerous if provoked, and we constantly warned visitors that the bears were wild animals and should be treated with caution. But visitors would often hold out food with their hand, hoping to get a bear to rise up on its hind legs and reach. Occasionally the bear would bite or scratch the visitor in trying to reach the food. Then, of course, we would get an impassioned complaint about the “vicious” bear.

I would answer such complaints by first telling the visitor that he or she should not have held a hand out to the bear; second, that the wound was only superficial; and third, that the bear’s bite was actually a unique souvenir to take home. The third point rarely failed to convince the visitor that the bear bite or scratch was really something worthwhile.

Despite the apparent chicness of such wounds, Albright’s approach didn’t work on everyone. Indeed, when Harold Fabian, an old friend of Albright’s, brought his daughter to Yellowstone—and when she was subsequently scratched by a bear outside West Thumb—he had the perfect rejoinder for Albright’s glib guidance: “Well, she’s not going to be showing off the scratch … It’s high on her thigh.”

Albright also recounted one incident of a female visitor demanding the Park Service execute a bear after it ripped her dress off. As Albright notes, the woman had been at the Canyon lot feeding the bear in question all morning, getting it to stand on its hind legs; hardly a lecher, the black bear merely ripped the dress by accident when it dropped back down to four legs—perhaps a little deflated by the end of meal service for the morning.

And while Albright counseled against feeding “hold-up” bears, he was no stranger to other “tame” Park bears, as seen in the ”bear dinner” photo above. Whatever his own reservations, he knew tourists loved bears, so such publicity was, to him, a positive gain.

End of Bear Feeding

The bear feeding sites were one big publicity stunt for the Park, one we (hopefully) recognize with a modicum of incredulity—to put it mildly. Besides injury and death, bear feeding led to property damage, both from bears clawing up cars and tearing down fences in search of grub. According to the Yellowstone Park Foundation, between 1931 and 1969, there were an average of 48 bear-related injuries to visitors in the Park—and over 100 cases of property damage!

In today’s bearscape, feeding them table scraps, much less constructing sites for their feeding to become spectacle, is unthinkable. And not even from a safety standpoint. Feeding bears in Yellowstone runs counter to the mission currently espoused by the NPS: to let bears (and other wildlife) live as unfettered and unguided as possible within Park boundaries.

Courtesy of American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY

Indeed, Schullery rather brilliantly sums up how, even after the decline of bear feeding sits and the end of roadside service for “hold-up” bears, how bear feeding still captures (and galls) our imagination:

Most of the conservation community now recognizes that the open garbage dumps of Yellowstone, with grizzly bears wading through piles of junk in search of food, were an awful thing to allow in a national park, but we must not underestimate the power of the show that went on for all those years. Many local people recall watching grizzly bears at dumps in or near the park, and though we may agree or (in my case at least) even strongly insist that it was ugly or wildly inappropriate, we also still shake our heads in wonder at the memory, and we unhesitatingly admit to ourselves how lucky we feel to have seen it. A grizzly bear is an impressive animal, whether you see it backlighted at dusk in an alpine meadow or wallowing in rotting trash. It is no wonder that Yellowstone came to mean bear country.

The public “bear viewing” dumpsites started shuttering during World War II, a little over a decade after the Park started tracking human-bear incidents more diligently. The practice did not really come to a full stop until much later, as “hold-up” bears lingered by the roadsides and bears still frequented garbage dumps within Park boundaries. It was not until 1970, when Yellowstone banned visitors from feeding bears and set up bearproof garbage containers around the Park, that bear feeding came to a full stop.

Tags 1871 hayden geological survey albert charles peale bear feeding bears black bear canyon hotel garbage dumps grizzly bear Hayden Valley horace m. albright Lake Hotel National Park Service NPS Old Faithful old yellowstone paul schullery philetus w. norris Robert Cahn Searching For Yellowstone the birth of the national park service: the founding years 1913-33 Yellowstone Yellowstone National Park

About Sean Reichard

Sean Reichard is the editor of Yellowstone Insider and author of Yellowstone Insider For Families 2017.

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Yellowstone Bear World Exploits Cubs in Public Encounters

In 2022, a PETA investigator worked undercover at Yellowstone Bear World—a bear-breeding facility located in Rexburg, Idaho—and documented that a cub with a broken leg was denied prescribed treatment, traumatized cubs were desperate for their mothers, and an irate supervisor threatened to throw one of the vulnerable cubs across the room and rip out her teeth.

In their natural forest habitat, bears are curious, energetic, and on the move for most of the day, spending time foraging for a wide variety of foods and digging in the soft earth, underbrush, and leaves. Normally, black bear cubs spend up to two years by their mother’s side, growing and learning how to survive. But at Yellowstone Bear World, workers separate mother bears from their cubs by the time the babies are only 8 weeks old. Everything that gives their lives meaning is taken from them.


What’s Wrong With Cub-Petting Encounters at Yellowstone Bear World?

Cubs at Yellowstone Bear World are used in photo ops and in bottle-feeding “encounters,” during which they’re handled and fed by around 12 customers a day. PETA’s investigator observed that cubs tried to nurse on the chins, necks, fingers, and arms of staff—a displaced suckling behavior often seen in animals who are attempting to soothe themselves after suffering through the trauma of premature separation from their mothers.

Seeking comfort, this cub tried to suckle while being held in an unnatural position and forced to endure touching and handling by a crowd of visitors at an event at Yellowstone Bear World. (Photo taken by a member of the public in April 2022)

Frantic cubs used in bottle-feeding encounters with the public routinely bit, scratched, and bruised the staff. PETA’s investigator incurred 13 bites, some of which broke the skin. One supervisor lashed out when a cub named Tootsie bit her, threatening to “throw” her across the room and rip out her teeth “one by one.”

Yellowstone Bear World’s bottle-feeding encounters began when the cubs were nearly 5 months old, which, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), made them too large and strong to be used in direct contact with the public.

After they become too large to use in profit-driven public encounters, cubs are moved to a drive-through enclosure. There, visitors in tour trucks toss them bread, which is not good for them in excess. They often have nothing to do but beg for food and pace back and forth, a sign of psychological distress.

Bears Deprived of Pain Relief and Appropriate Food, Threatened With Beatings

Pain felt by the bears often seemed to be ignored or dismissed. After one bear cub, Bean, fractured his leg and was limping, a supervisor told workers to withhold his prescription pain medication because, in her view, he was acting as if he wasn’t hurt. One supervisor said that she saw a 26-year-old black bear named Tigger “dragging her body … across the road” but a veterinarian was apparently not called to examine her. And after a member of the public recorded a car driving over the paw of one of the bears, workers apparently chose a bear at random for a veterinarian to examine because they didn’t know which bear had been injured, and they “just had to have the vet come out and look at somebody.

A bear named Bean (shown) fractured his leg, but a supervisor told workers to withhold his prescription pain medication.

Grizzly bears are omnivores whose natural diet includes roots, fruits, berries, and grasses as well as fish and other prey, but Yellowstone Bear World staff fed them only meat, bread, and sweets—and then “fasted” them one day a week, giving them only some doughnuts and cookies. Workers told customers that the black bears were fed fruit and vegetables, but the investigator never saw that happen.

PETA’s undercover investigator documented that Yellowstone Bear World workers were instructed to carry sticks into enclosures with yearling and adult bears. When a yearling escaped from an enclosure and was being chased by adult bears, a supervisor told a worker to “beat” any bear who came toward her.

Bred for Profit and Exploitation

One bear cub born unseasonably late was purportedly sent to a “home” in Nebraska because she was “too feisty” for public encounters. However, government records show that she was actually sold to an exotic-animal dealer who is known to have sent bears to slaughter. In the last decade, Yellowstone Bear World has shipped 88 bears to this dealer, including four cubs in 2022.

There are nearly 80 bears in the drive-through roadside zoo, some of whom are used for breeding. Cubs who aren’t exploited in public “encounters” at Yellowstone Bear World, as well as some adult bears, are shipped out to an unknown fate at destinations across the country. In the last decade, nearly 100 bears have been sent to exotic-animal dealers and exhibitors.

While bears are the main victims at Yellowstone Bear World, the facility also put other animals at risk during PETA’s investigation:
    • A Rocky Mountain goat apparently died shortly after undergoing an emergency C-section because she was having trouble delivering a stillborn kid. Staff admitted that they didn’t know the goat was in labor and that if they had realized sooner, she would have had a better chance of surviving.


    • A deer, Daisy, gave birth to four fawns, two of whom were stillborn and one of whom died the next day. A worker said that the previous year, two of Daisy’s three fawns also died, yet staff continued to breed her anyway.

PETA has submitted evidence of apparent violations to multiple regulatory agencies:

    • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration because of dangerous workplace hazards, i.e., allowing staff to enter enclosures and have direct contact with adult bears and to be regularly bitten by cubs


    • The USDA because of apparent violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, including failing to provide adequate veterinary care, using sticks to manage bears and threatening physical abuse, and allowing the public to have direct contact with cubs over 4 months of age


    • Idaho Fish and Game because of apparent violations of state law, i. e., failing to remove injured animals from public display, feeding bears inappropriate diets, and allowing unlawful, dangerous public feeding

Please call on Yellowstone Bear World to stop breeding bears and to end cub photo ops and other public encounters.

Please send polite comments to:

Courtney Ferguson
[email protected]
President & Co-owner
Yellowstone Bear World

Please urge Yellowstone Bear World’s remaining promoters not to support the roadside zoo in the future.

90,000 Life on Yellowstone // Optimist

≡ July 3, 2019

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paintings and photographs that have captured the views like this-the large canyon in Yellouston,-the US Congress said in 1872 establish a park here. The move was truly revolutionary.

Yellowstone is not just a park: more than 140 years ago, people made a pact with wildlife here for the first time. This treaty is still in effect today, moreover, it becomes even more relevant - and not only in Yellowstone - as the world of people increasingly attacks the natural world. Will these worlds be able to agree? nine0006

On August 7, 2015, a gnawed human body was discovered by a ranger in Yellowstone National Park, next to a hiking trail and very close to one of the local hotels.

The victim was quickly identified as 63-year-old Lance Crosby, a nurse at the park clinic.

During the investigation, it turned out that on the eve of the tragedy, Crosby went for a walk alone, forgetting to take a spray that repels bears. To his misfortune, the unfortunate stumbled upon a grizzly bear with two cubs. Having killed the victim and fairly gnawed it (sequence, sadly, could be reversed, given the habits of bears)

Having allowed the cubs to feast to their heart's content, the mother bear hid the remains - buried them in the mud and pine needles, as grizzlies usually do, intending to return for prey. The “suspect” was quickly caught and, after a DNA examination confirmed that it was this bear that had bitten a person, they were put to sleep: an adult grizzly who had tasted human flesh, and even hid the prey, is too dangerous. Such a beast cannot be left alive - even if the fatal fight happened through no fault of his own. “Our hearts are bursting with pain. We are deeply saddened by this tragedy and mourn with the family and friends of the deceased,” said park director Dan Wenk. Wenk is called upon to solve the most difficult task - to ensure the safety of both people and animals in Yellowstone. nine0006

Some sections of Yellowstone are wilder today than they were a hundred years ago. There are more and more grizzlies. This one, from Grand Teton National Park, does a good job of keeping crows away from a buffalo carcass that park workers have hauled off the road, away from scavengers and tourists.

Grizzly bears are obviously very dangerous animals, but they are predictably dangerous. Lance Crosby became their seventh victim in Yellowstone in the last hundred years. During the 144 years of the existence of Yellowstone National Park, many more people died here in thermal pools - drowned or scalded, and suicides were recorded much more often than deaths caused by bears. By the way, about the same number of visitors suffered from lightning as from grizzlies. Two more were killed by bison. nine0006

"Knight's Tournament": bison during the rut met in the valley of the Lamar River. More than 4.5 thousand American bison roam freely throughout Yellowstone. And all of them are the descendants of several dozen animals that found refuge in the park about a century ago, when the species began to be saved from extinction.

In fact, the lesson to be learned from the death of Crosby and the second tragedy - in fact, the execution of the bear that killed him, is simple: Yellowstone National Park is a kingdom of wildlife, which means that the limits and restrictions set by man are rather arbitrary. The park is teeming with natural wonders – and ferocious animals are as much a part of it as deep canyons, thundering waterfalls and hot springs. Proud and independent, animals certainly give pleasure to those who admire them, but admiring is one thing, and interacting is quite another. nine0006

Accurate as a clock: every 60-110 minutes, the Old Faithful Geyser shoots a jet of steam and hot water 56 meters. In summer, the nearest parking lot is never empty - as soon as one car leaves, another one takes its place. “One of the nightmares of any Yellowstone director: what if Old Faithful stops gushing into my directorate?” Dan Wenk laughs.

Most visitors to Yellowstone see it exactly through the plexiglass window. From the car window, they watch a bear on the side of the road, stop to look at a deep river from a distance, walk at a respectful distance along the geysers - in a word, they view the park like a diorama in a museum: they are out of danger. But it is worth moving away from the road for some two hundred meters - going down into a ravine or into a thicket of sagebrush: there is no more talk of any safety, and there is nothing to do here without a can of spray from bears. Wild nature within the established boundaries, animals forced to obey the rules of man - the paradox of a developed civilization. nine0003

All this is very complicated, and over time it will become even more difficult - the word "Yellowstone" today should mean not only the park. It represents a huge ecosystem, a vast complex of "untamed landscapes" and the nature of all 48 continental states. The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is a colossal area that includes Grand Teton National Park, national forest patches, nature reserves and other public and private properties - for all about 9 million hectares. They are surrounded by "frontier areas" - here you are more likely to meet a goat than a deer, you are more likely to see a tractor than a grizzly, and you will hear a Labrador barking, not a wolf howl. And beyond the “frontier territories” stretches America of the 21st century: highways, cities, parking lots, shopping malls. nine0003

Question: is it possible to preserve virgin landscapes in the heart of modern America, these examples of wildness in the good sense of the word, where there is enough space for both predators and their victims, where nature is allowed to remain nature - with blood on the fangs and claws of predators? Can such ecosystems live in harmony with man - obeying his requirements and sacrificing something for the sake of his comfort? Time will tell. But if the answer is still “yes”, then this “yes” applies primarily to Yellowstone.

Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park, USA.

The park lies, as geologists say, on the Yellowstone plateau with an average height of 2.4 thousand meters. This plateau is covered with dense groves of lodgepole pine, alternating with mountain grassy meadows and thickets of sagebrush, and almost straight roads stretch along the sides - it seems that they cut through the cold and frozen earth's firmament.

But not everything is so simple with the Yellowstone Plateau: right below it is a vast thermal anomaly, or "hot spot". From here, a powerful heat flow breaks through the earth's crust, melting everything in its path and turning rocks into two giant magma chambers located one above the other. nine0003

This magma bubble is about to burst—erupt in a supergiant eruption—at any moment. And all around, the Rocky Mountains rise in disorderly shafts to the very horizon, the most ancient and highest of them - such as the Teton, Absaroka, Gallatin ranges - are located closer to the center of the supervolcano. On the plateau, geologists have discovered three huge craters - traces of volcanic eruptions that have occurred in the past 2.1 million years. These eruptions provided the “hot spot” of Yellowstone with the honorary title of “supervolcano”. Ordinary volcanoes tend to erupt along the edges of tectonic plates, supervolcanoes burn through the tectonic plate itself, much like a welding torch burns through a steel sheet. And the Yellowstone "burner" seems to be the largest of the "hot spots" hiding in the bowels of the earth. nine0006

More than a third of Yellowstone, including the Grand Prismatic Spring, is located in the caldera of a giant ancient but still active volcano. One day he will wake up again (disaster!), but, scientists assure, the chances that this will happen in the near future are negligible.

Once upon a time people came here, the distant ancestors of the indigenous American tribes - the Shoshone Indians, and today they are closely connected with these places by centuries of tradition. From time to time they left the plateau - a nomadic lifestyle forced them to move in search of food, fur and relative comfort. nine0003

And then the invasion began - European and East American fur traders rushed here. But Yellowstone was not conquered and colonized, unlike other territories of the American West, partly because the mountain plateau was distinguished by severe winters: some of the fur hunters who caught the local cold did not skimp on details - real and fictional. Much later, in 1869-1871, three independent expeditions of whites (by the way, not hunters), accompanied by small groups of military men, visited here and were amazed by something completely different - geysers, a deep canyon and two giant waterfalls, which collapsed the Yellowstone River. One of these men, Nathaniel Langford, who arrived here in 1870, served on the Northern Pacific Railroad. nine0003

Another member of the expedition, Walter Trumbull, later wrote: "When the waterfalls and geysers of Yellowstone become more accessible, no other region in America will be able to match it in popularity: it will be the best resort on the waters." Langford and his associates went even further: he realized that potential popularity promises good money for the Northern Pacific Railroad, and at the same time for all those who manage to settle down somewhere nearby, he will sell tickets or populate hotels. The next expedition, in 1871, was equipped by Ferdinand Hayden, head of the US Geological Survey. The members of his group were photographer William Henry Jackson and artist Thomas Moran, both brilliantly capturing Yellowstone, helping viewers to appreciate its beauty. Meanwhile, an agent for the Northern Pacific Railroad decided to persuade lawmakers to grant the Great Geyser Basin public park status. nine0003

Hayden seized on the idea and, with the support of Langford and other railroad officials, lobbied for the bill. Not only were the geysers protected, but the Grand Canyon, the Yellowstone River, the Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone Lake, the Lamar River Valley and other areas, all together form a million-hectare rectangle. On March 1, 1872, President Ulysses Simpson Grant signed a bill that made Yellowstone the first national park. This law, which is not surprising for that time, completely ignored all the claims of representatives of the indigenous population. The document specified that a "public park is being created for the benefit and joy of people." The Indians did not fall under the concept of "people". The park strictly prohibited the "senseless destruction of fish and game." The situation is paradoxical. nine0003

Absolutely everything related to the park turned out to be a fundamentally new thing - there were no beaten paths here. Why are there roads - there was no clear goal, there was no staff, as well as a budget. Congress seemed to have lost interest in the venture, before the ink on the presidential signature had dried, and Yellowstone instantly turned into a disaster zone.

The bison is widely used as a sacred animal in the traditional rites of the American Indians. At Fort Hall, Leo Teton is depicted against a pillar with buffalo skulls. nine0011

Herbivores in Yellowstone have a hard time in the winter. To find grass, bison sometimes have to “work with their heads” - this is how they tear deep snow. But in the Firehole River valley in the Upper Geyser Basin, things are much simpler: the snow melts faster here, and green shoots spring from warm soil all year round.

The newly created park plunged into chaos. The hunters acted brazenly: wapiti, bison, bighorn sheep and other ungulates were shot in industrial quantities. They say that a couple of smart guys shot about two thousand elks at Mammoth Hot Springs in early 1875, and they were only interested in tongues and skins - the carcasses were left to rot. History is silent about how many grizzlies these "hunters" destroyed in addition to deer for the sake of profit or for fun, only one thing is clear: venison is a dangerous bait that forced the bears to go right under the guns. A deer skin cost a lot of money at that time - from six to eight dollars, and in a day a person could shoot from 25 to 50 animals. “From 1871 to 1881 there was just a massacre,” says Lee Whittlesey, historian of Yellowstone National Park. Deer antlers littered the slopes. The number of ungulates began to decline. In 1886, out of complete desperation, the government sent an army to defend Yellowstone - and the soldiers defended the reserve for a good three decades, until at 19On the 16th, the National Park Service was not created (this year the department celebrates its centenary).

In the 20th century, animals in Yellowstone were often the victims of ill-conceived policies. The idea that wild animals should be protected in the park along with geysers and canyons did not come immediately. In addition, at first, only “good animals” were considered worthy of protection: four-legged game, which was appreciated by hunters, trout, which fishermen dreamed of, glorious herbivores that visitors wanted to admire - elks and elks, pronghorns, bison and bighorn sheep. As before, nothing interfered with the persecution of the “bad”: from the 1870s, predators were shot and poisoned. And one of the directors of the park even approved the purchase of traps to lime the beavers: they built dams, and the waters sometimes flooded the park. And hunting for wolves stopped only when there were no wolves left - and not only in Yellowstone (they were gone there back in 1930s), but throughout the American West.

A wolf pack studying grizzly bear tracks in Pelican Valley. Wolves began to be returned to Yellowstone in 1995, and the population is now thriving, but researchers continue to keep a close eye on the animals.

Park Service biologist Doug Smith will radio-collar this immobilized (sedated) wolf before he wakes up.

The carcass of an American bison that drowned in the Yellowstone River was the occasion for a celebration for an alpha female (right) and her two-year-old wolf cubs. Attacking a live bison is dangerous, more often Yellowstone wolves prey on wapiti - they make up 85 percent of the wolf's winter diet. nine0011

However, all these abuses were stopped, mistakes were corrected, and some dangerous trends were completely reversed - at the end of the 20th century, Yellowstone was waiting for a complete recovery. In 1995-1996 - seven decades have passed since the last wolf breathed its last - 31 gray predators were brought to the reserve from Western Canada. The newcomers liked the places - they were fruitful and multiplied, flourishing in the park and spreading throughout the region. At the same time, 35 more wolves were released in Central Idaho. After 20 years, there were 500 wolves in Greater Yellowstone; there are an additional 1,300 wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains, and the gray wolf—a common name for members of the species, although the animal can range in color from fawn to black—has been removed from the list of endangered species in Idaho and Montana. Today, mostly in the national park itself, there are about a hundred wolves - ten packs - and all of them are monitored and protected by Doug Smith, the head of the Yellowstone Wolf Project. nine0003

On a frosty December morning at the airport near Gardiner, Montana, just north of the park, I climb into the cockpit of a light helicopter and sit next to Doug Smith to see how this project works. Smith, a tall man with a long gray curled mustache and laughing, wrinkled eyes, has been with wolves for 37 years, and with Yellowstone since they landed; more than 500 animals passed through his hands, prepared for "ringing" (the animals were put on radio collars, with the help of which scientists received data on their movements and actions). nine0003

The helicopter took off into the sky and headed towards the Yellowstone River under the strict guidance of Jim Pope, a pilot who has a great feeling not only for his car, but also for wildlife. A few minutes later we sat down softly on an island of pure snow. Pope's crew - a pair of "robbers" whose job it was to deploy a "self-propelled net", throw it on the animals, jump out and sedate the captured animals - had already immobilized two wolves.

Smith's colleague, Dan Stahler, did not waste any time: in the company of two biologists, he worked on "drugged" wolves. Kneeling in the snow, Stahler was finishing up with a collar for a larger animal, a stately black male of about three years old, with a small wound above his right eye. Second in line was a young female, light grey, with a brown-brown head. nine0003

Wearing purple medical examination gloves, even though the weather called for warm gloves, Stahler drew blood from the male's right paw and then plucked a tiny piece of skin from the right ear to do a DNA test while Smith fitted the female's collar. Having coped with the task, Doug measured the she-wolf: the front right paw, body length, upper fangs - already three centimeters! But Smith draws my attention not to fangs, but to the so-called carnivorous or carnivorous tooth. “This tooth is perfect for cutting meat,” says Doug. “Even when the animals are asleep, pumped up with tranquilizers, hardly anyone wants to put their finger in their mouths.” However, Doug himself did just that, examining the fangs. nine0003

Smith and his team worked surprisingly fast. Having immersed in a sling, they deftly weighed the male: 55 kilograms.

Then a fecal sample was taken and a microchip was inserted under the skin between the shoulder blades. Then they examined and weighed the she-wolf, measured her temperature with a rectal thermometer: it was slightly below normal. Then, having wrapped the wolf in jackets, the biologists placed her on a plastic mat, and put chemical heating pads in the groin areas to complete all the necessary procedures. When all the necessary data was received, Doug invited me to kneel next to him, right in the snow, to the male, and take the head of the wolf in my hands - it will be a great photo. Carefully embracing the sleeping animal, I noticed spots and gray hairs on the black fur. The wolf's tongue fell out of its mouth and hung limply. The beast was weak and helpless, but at the same time it was magnificent. "Look into his eyes," Doug asked. Wide open, they shone brownish copper. nine0003

“Nature itself is looking at you now,” continued Smith, “with which the so-called civilized world is ready to end. Remember this look. We want to keep it. The whole Yellowstone story is just about that.” And the local grizzlies are also "a story about it." In the first decades after the foundation of the park - however, as well as most of the 20th century - tourists liked to feed these bears, and besides, the animals were allowed to eat garbage from hotels located in the park. It was believed that in this way they could be "tamed" - so that it would be easier to watch them: a wonderful wildlife show. But the bears did not even think of being tamed - they remained wild animals, powerful, fiercely protecting their offspring. nine0006

Nick Patrick was attacked by a grizzly bear at his ranch in Wyoming in 2013, but he doesn't hold a grudge. “She is a mother and only protected her cubs,” says Nick.

A camera trap caught a grizzly when it reached for apples. Bears often visit the yards of the ranches located along the northern border of Yellowstone.

Grizzlies are also insatiable - they need a lot of food, "good and different." In Yellowstone, their menu includes 266 animals, plants, mushrooms, and they absorb all this in huge quantities, especially in the fall, when they put on fat before hibernation. And now the most important menu items - local subspecies of Clark's salmon, whitebark pine cones - have recently been in short supply due to anthropogenic changes in the ecosystem, and other food is getting tight. But there is nothing to worry about grizzlies - they, according to experts, will perfectly adapt to any changes. I once talked about all this with Kerry Gunther, a colleague of Smith: everything that Doug does with wolves, Kerry does with bears. We are sitting on the far side of Yellowstone, surveying the area. Our attraction is not marked on tourist maps - a small but deep spring in which grizzlies love to splash. nine0003

We spent all morning getting here. But I managed to learn about almost everything that Gunther has seen in 30 years of work in Yellowstone. Kerry is a calm, reasonable man, confident in his science, accepting that people's opinions may differ, and unemotional enough to not tire of the heated debate in which he and other leaders of the directions are attacked by opponents from all sides.

The number of grizzlies decreased sharply in the 1970s, when the park management policy changed: it was decided not to focus on wildlife and spectacles with the participation of "tamed" animals - the priority was ecology. I must say that we owe such changes to the landmark event 1963 years - a report on the management of parks by University of California Professor A. Starker Leopold. This work was an important milestone in the evolution of ideas about what purpose Yellowstone should serve and what policy should be pursued here. Commissioned by Secretary of the Interior Stuart Youdall, a report titled "Managing Nature in National Parks" stressed that natural settings in all national parks "should be preserved or, if necessary, recreated." nine0003

The opinions of experts differed. Life threw up other arguments in the heated dispute - one of them was the reaction of society to two tragedies: in Glacier Park, grizzlies attacked people twice. Perhaps there was no connection between these deaths, but it all happened on the same night in August 1967 - and it turned into the closure of all Yellowstone landfills.

Garbage "restaurants" closed unexpectedly - the bears were confused, confused. And very hungry. The animals suffered deprivation, and the result was not long in coming: the birth rate fell, and the population declined markedly - by some estimates, less than 140 grizzlies remained in Greater Yellowstone. Only for 19For 71 years, more than 40 bears have been killed, and “ringed” animals also fell victim. In general, the Yellowstone grizzly could have died out completely, a sad trend of ten years remaining. But, fortunately, in 1975, under the Endangered Species Act, the grizzly bear in 48 mainland states was listed as endangered. Hunting for him has ceased, at least as a legal entertainment.

“We spent a lot of time working individually with animals, especially with females, doing everything to keep them alive,” says Gunter, who arrived in Yellowstone at 1983 year. The work, among other things, involved the prevention of conflicts between bears and people: experts asked visitors not only to refrain from feeding animals, but also to ensure that animals did not steal food from them. Finally, purely practical measures were taken, for example, garbage cans were installed that were inaccessible to animals, patrolling of campsites began. In short, the idea was to keep humans and grizzlies at a respectful distance from each other and encourage bears to take an interest in natural food. nine0003

And it worked! More females remained alive, they brought more offspring. The number of grizzlies in the park itself increased, and their range also grew: bears began to be noticed where they had not been seen for decades. In principle, grizzlies are difficult to count, but, according to recent estimates, 717 individuals live in the core of the ecosystem today. If we talk about the ecosystem as a whole, then, Gunther believes, “we are confidently approaching a thousand.” Based on this data and considering the opinions of experts (who believe that Greater Yellowstone today has as many bears as it can “digest”), many biologists believe that it is time to cross the grizzly off the long list of animals subject to the Endangered Species Act. nine0003

Yellowstone today remains a safe haven for wild animals. The wolves are back. The grizzly population after the catastrophic "shallowing" in the 1970s recovered - as did the number of beavers. American bison, which were on the verge of extinction, are now also safe, but they only breed too actively - the population has already "overflowed" and left the reserve. Certain efforts have been made to protect the migratory corridors of American pronghorns.

Elks are found in abundance, but they no longer feel as free as in those decades when they could not be afraid of wolves. Bald eagles also do not grieve. nine0006

First migration: three-week-old elk fawns leave their summer home in southeast Yellowstone. Following the deer, they climb a slope 1400 meters high. A few hours ago, the herd crossed a water barrier - the South Shoshone River.

Everything and everyone is interconnected in Yellowstone. Wolves are with grizzlies: they compete for food, and both prefer venison. Whitebark pines - with beetle: this beetle destroys trees; With climate warming, the problem is aggravated by the fact that the number of beetles is growing rapidly, and their range is expanding. American bison are directly dependent on animal husbandry policy, which can be traced through the disease: brucellosis was probably brought to America along with cattle, and cattle were brought to Montana to allow the hunting of Yellowstone bison. nine0003

All this once again confirms that the Yellowstone ecosystem is a complex "residential complex" in which the interaction of not only "residents" is important, but also physical factors, geological conditions, vicissitudes of history, biological processes. And any changes that ricochet through all communities, from animal to plant, from predator to prey, from one link in the food chain to another, are of great interest (and heated debate) among scientists studying the flora and fauna of Yellowstone. But here's what we should not forget: any sudden movements always have side effects, usually unforeseen. Just one example: the return of wolves to Yellowstone Park did not solve all the problems caused by the previous shooting of gray predators. nine0003

The Greater Yellowstone ecosystem is home to many pain points, partly because it is a place where very different expectations and interests collide. And this clash brings to light a simple truth: it is not only the people who live in the park, or work, or hunt, or fish, or go on hikes, that should be recognized as legitimate. This territory belongs to all of America - and to the whole world. In 2105, over four million people visited Yellowstone National Park; Grand Teton National Park - over three million. Coming to such parks, people feel that they are joining an important cause. But those who are not indifferent to the fate of Yellowstone cannot but notice the new challenges that the park is facing. nine0003

All American national parks need better funding. Only a small fraction of the money comes from Congress to maintain and improve such areas, and most of the major initiatives, such as the Yellowstone Wolf Project, are being implemented with private funds, through organizations such as the Yellowstone Park Foundation. Just as much money, parks need political support to implement unpopular ideas (and there will probably be a lot of difficult decisions to make - there are too many people here, and private cars have been banned from entering). To deal with the most sensitive and controversial issues of wildlife conservation - primarily the problems of grizzlies, American bison and wolves - consensus is needed, not bitter disputes. nine0003

The most devoted park supporters must understand that righteous anger and intransigence will not help the cause. Private groups should partner with various subcommittees of the Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee, the government oversight agency for federal land in the ecosystem. And together they will be able to make bold decisions in the interests of all. Climate change, as we can see, hurts Yellowstone - warming turns into longer insect life cycles, droughts and God knows what else - in such a situation, everything possible must be done to preserve what is available. nine0003

If we expect the Yellowstone grizzly bears to adapt better and faster, it seems that we ourselves should also change.

Comparison of two photographs taken in Yellowstone National Park. The first photo was taken by William Henry Jackson in 1871, and the second was taken by photographer Bradley Bonner from the same point of view, but in our years

Tags: volcano • life • interesting • yellowstone • park • nature


Crosswinds Inn, West Yellowstone – Updated 2022 Prices

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  • Option and Cost Information
  • Amenities
  • Accommodation Terms
  • Guest Reviews (2,932)

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Crosswinds Inn is located in downtown West Yellowstone, Montana, within walking distance of many shops and restaurants. It features an indoor pool and free Wi-Fi. A hot breakfast is included in the rate. Yellowstone National Park West Entrance is 1.5 km away. nine0003

All modern, air-conditioned rooms have a work desk and a seating area. A microwave, refrigerator and coffee machine are included. The private bathroom is fitted with a bath or shower.

Crosswinds Inn has vending machines. The front desk is open 24/7. Guests can use the hot tub. The hotel also provides luggage storage and free parking.

The western entrance to Yellowstone National Park is 3 blocks from the hotel and 49km - Old Faithful Geyser. The Big Screen Yellowstone Cinema and the Grizzly and Wolf Research Center are 1 km away. Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is 147 km away.

This is our guests' favorite part of West Yellowstone, according to independent reviews.

Couples especially like the location - they rated accommodation in the area for a trip as a couple at 9. 5 .

Crosswinds Inn has been welcoming Booking.com guests since 27 Feb. 2015.

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Most Popular Amenities & Services

1 swimming pool

Free parking

Free WiFi

family rooms

Non-smoking rooms

Coffee/tea maker in all rooms

Benefits of this option

Located in the top-rated area in West Yellowstone, this property is located in the top-rated area. Excellent location score: 9.5

Continental, Buffet, Breakfast to go nine0003

Free private parking on site

Select dates to see availability and prices.

Room type


Queen Room with 2 Queen Beds

2 King Beds

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Extra King Room 1 9003 9003 King Bed 9003

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Mindful Travel Level 1

We have been told by staff at this property that they are taking some sustainability steps that can contribute to society and the environment. Together with experts including Travalyst and Sustainalize, we created the Mindful Journey program to help you travel more consciously.

Questions and answers about the object

See what other guests are asking to learn more about this property.

  • Do we have a microwave and fridge with 2 queen beds?

    All rooms are equipped with a refrigerator and microwave.

    This is a translation -

    Reply July 3, 2022

  • - Hello. - Hi. Photo 2 rooms, the beds look like two singles and full. These are queen size beds. Look very close to each. .

    They are queens, we do not have twin or full size beds on the property.

    This is a translation of -

    Reply September 7, 2022

  • Is the King or 2 Queen accessible room. Height of beds.0002 This is a translation -

    Reply July 26, 2022

  • Do you have coin operated washers and dryers?

    Yes, there is.

    This is a translation -

    Reply October 3, 2022

  • - Hello. - Hi. We are a family of 4. Me, wife, son and daughter My daughter is 15. There is only 1 king size bed in the room. What is the agreement..

    We can add a rollaway bed but with older children you would be better off renting a room with 2 queen beds. nine0003

    This is a translation -

    Reply June 25, 2022

Landmarks nearby *

Most Popular Amenities & Services

1 swimming pool

Free parking

Free WiFi

family rooms

Non-smoking rooms

Coffee/tea maker in all rooms


  • Toilet paper

  • Towels

  • nine0002 Bath or shower

  • Private bathroom

  • Toilet

  • Free toiletries

  • Hair dryer

  • Bath

  • Shower


  • Linen

  • Wardrobe or wardrobe

  • Alarm clock

  • View from window


  • Outdoor fireplace

  • Picnic area

  • Garden furniture

  • Coffee machine

  • Electric kettle

  • Microwave oven

  • Refrigerator

Amenities in the room

  • Socket near the bed

  • nine0002 Clothes hanger

Seating area

  • Seating area

  • Work table

Media and technology

  • iPod Dock

  • Flat screen TV

  • Satellite channels

  • Radio

  • Telephone

  • TV

Food and drinks

  • Fruit

  • Buffet suitable for children

  • Coffee/tea maker


Wi-Fi is available in the entire hotel and is free of charge.


Free private parking on site (reservation not needed) .

  • Street parking

  • Parking spaces for people with disabilities

Reception desk

  • Luggage storage

  • 24-hour front desk

Cleaning services

  • Daily cleaning

  • Laundry Additional charge

Business center services

  • Fax/Photocopying Additional charge


  • Fire extinguishers

  • Video surveillance outside the building

  • Video surveillance in common areas

  • Smoke detectors

  • Entrance by electronic card

  • Safe

  • Carbon monoxide detector

  • Shared lounge / TV room

  • Vending machine (food)

  • Vending machine (drinks)

  • Smoking areas

  • Air conditioner

  • Non-smoking throughout

  • Heating

  • Separate entrance

  • Carpet

  • Fan

  • Family rooms

  • Ironing accessories

  • Facilities for disabled guests

  • Airport transfer

  • Airport transfer

  • Transfer to the airport

  • Non-smoking rooms

  • Iron

  • Wake-up service / alarm clock


  • Tactile signs

  • Low basin

  • High toilet

  • Toilet with rails

  • Wheelchair accessible

  • Access ladder to upper floors

Indoor swimming pool

  • Open all year round

  • Heated pool

  • Incremental pool

  • Pool toys

  • Pool/beach towels

  • Indoor swimming pool

  • Sun loungers/beach chairs

Health services

  • Sun loungers/beach chairs

  • Hot tub/Jacuzzi

The staff speaks these languages

  • English

  • Spanish

Accommodation conditions

Crosswinds Inn takes special requests - add them in the next step nine0003

check in

From 16:00


Until 11:00


Cancellation and prepayment policies vary depending on the type of option chosen. Please enter your dates of stay and review the booking conditions for the requested room.

Beds for children

Child Policy

Children of all ages are welcome.

Children aged 16 and over are considered adults at this property. nine0003

To see exact prices and availability, please enter the number of children in your group and their age when searching.

Crib and Extra Bed Policy

0-1 year old

Extra bed on request

US$15 per child per night

Baby cot on request

Free of charge

Extra bed on request 9002 From 2 years old 9000

US$15 per person per night

Baby cots and extra beds are not included in the total price of the reservation and must be paid separately at the time of stay. nine0003

The number of extra beds and baby cots allowed depends on the option chosen. Check conditions.

Baby cots and extra beds are subject to availability.

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