Black Bear
Travis Smola

Black Bear Euthanized in Grand Teton National Park After Being Fed by Tourists

This is why you don't feed animals in national parks.

If you've ever visited a national park, no doubt you've seen the many, many signs that warn against feeding or even getting too close to the wild animals.

Yet again and again, problems between tourists and wildlife seem to arise. Now, in an unfortunate incident out of Grand Teton National Park, two young cubs are without a mother after tourists decided to feed a sow black bear.

This particular bear was described by the NPS as being a 4- or 5-year-old female. She had another run-in with tourists back in August when she rummaged through a pack left by startled tourists and ate an apple.

On Oct. 4, the black bear appeared again and took food from at least two different tourists' vehicles. She also approached several others, according to the press release. Because the animal was starting to show a lessened fear of humans, NPS captured her and her cubs. Officials then euthanized the sow because they felt she wouldn't do well at a zoo.

"It was a difficult decision for park managers, who are responsible for the welfare of both wildlife and people in the park," the press release states.

Officials will thankfully spare the sow's cubs, but will now send them to Oswald Bear Ranch in Newberry, Michigan.

Meanwhile, NPS says they cited two people in the incident, which carries up to a $5,000 fine and possibly six months in jail.

"Feeding wildlife in a national park is a serious offense and presents severe risks to the animal and to humans," Grand Teton Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail said in the press release. "Human carelessness doesn't just endanger humans, it can result in an animal's death."

He's right. Two years ago, two tourists encountered a bison calf in neighboring Yellowstone National Park. Because they thought it was abandoned, they took the calf to rangers in their vehicle. The rangers were less than enthused and took the animal back to its mother.

But by then, the animal's mother and the herd had rejected it, causing it to die of stress. The two tourists, a father and son, faced fines and untold ridicule following the incident.

We'll keep an eye on this story to see what happens to the cited people in this incident and bring you any updates right here at Wide Open Spaces.