If there’s one thing 2020 doesn’t need – it’s more grizzly bear attacks – but dangerous encounters with the giant beasts have doubled in Yellowstone alone this year.
In what can only be described as 2020 remaining consistent, wildlife officials have documented seven grizzly bear encounters resulting in injuries so far this year in the Yellowstone region. This is a stark increase over the previous record high of three injuries in the first half of 2007. What could possibly be causing a more-than-doubling of dangerous bear encounters this year? Experts point to the pandemic – and the complete change of lifestyle for us humans.
Adding emphasis, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reports that there is “usually a single interaction where a person is harmed in the first six months of any year.” This statistic, courtesy of Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team Supervisor Frank van Manen, places great emphasis on the anomaly that is 2020.
The Pandemic has More People Outdoors than Ever Before – And They’re all in Grizzly Bear Territory
Manen goes on to specify that “there is no straightforward explanation” and claims it could be chance. He does admit, however, that “it has not helped that there are more people recreating in the Yellowstone region as the coronavirus pandemic has given them a reason to spend more time outdoors.” Furthering his point, the Grizzly expert added:
“We don’t have the numbers yet, but we know that there have been a lot of recreationists out on public lands, especially during the time when the parks were closed. Future years will tell us whether this is indeed usually an outlier, but I think it’s certainly a reasonable hypothesis.”Grizzly Bear Study Team Supervisor Frank van Manen
To add to such a hypothesis, all seven encounters have been reported in different areas of the Yellowstone region. Each, too, has varied completely in nature, officials state.
“You have some that involved antler hunters, some that involved bikers, hikers, a tourist in Yellowstone, a Fish and Wildlife Service employee,” van Manen continues. “It’s all over the map, which tells me there’s nothing in particular going on with the bears themselves.”
Experts Agree: More Humans in Nature in 2020 Means More Grizzly Encounters
Life may not have changed much for modern grizzlies in 2020 – but it has exponentially for us humans. One constant that seems to be keeping the population sane, too, is this great return to the outdoors. In turn, Wyoming Game and Fish Large Carnivore Supervisor Dan Thompson agrees 100% with van Manen:
“It’s somewhat inevitable, and that’s why we try to do everything we can with information and education.”Wyoming Game and Fish Large Carnivore Supervisor Dan Thompson
Thompson implies the increase is likely because of more bears and people in more places. It’s a simple conclusion to draw, but as any wildlife expert will tell you – nature is often far from straightforward. If one thing’s for certain, however, it’s the abundance of evidence coming from social media.
Twitter, in particular, has loads of evidence supporting 2020’s massive uptick in bear encounters:
What’s more – the attacks are becoming far more widespread for our northern neighbors in Canada, too.
Unfortunately, most true experts agree that there is no tride and true method for surviving a bear attack. Grizzlies, in particular, can be overly aggressive and unpredictable – making it impossible to form a single strategy. If you’re traveling to Yellowstone or planning a hike in any other known-grizzly-territory – carry bear spray. It is the only proven tool to help increase your chances of surviving a grizzly – or brown – bear.
[H/T Outdoor News]