Idaho Woman Given Large Fine for Attracting Grizzly Bear to Campsite at Grand Teton National Park

by Jon D. B.
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Always remember to store your food properly whilst camping anywhere – but especially in bear country! Grand Teton National Park and the state of Wyoming have hit an Idaho woman with a powerful reminder in the form of $5,000 in fines and a misdemeanor for failing to do so. Which, in turn, attracted a grizzly bear to her campsite. A situation we don’t have to remind any Outsiders over the danger of.

The fines come alongside a misdemeanor charge for 50-year-old camper Belinda J. Arvidson. In total, her offenses total a $5,826 reprimand from the national park and its home state. The charge? “Improper food storage at a campsite in Grand Teton National Park,” according to a Friday press release from the Department of Justice, District of Wyoming.

The fine will hopefully serve as a stern reminder for fellow bear-country-campers to secure their food properly. Attracting grizzly bears to campsites never ends well – and can result in horrific tragedy. Moreover, habituating wild predators -especially the monstrous-in-size kind – nearly always proves fatal to the animals in the end.

Thankfully, the Grand Teton grizzly bear in this instance only had to be tranquilized and collared – and not euthanized as many are. But the bear also saw relocation to another area of the national park as a result, which is never preferable, either.

“Irresponsible behaviors have consequences, and many times it is the wildlife that pays the ultimate price,” Chip Jenkins, Grand Teton National Park Superintendent, adds in a statement. “We all have responsibilities to preserve and protect the incredible wild animals of Grand Teton National Park and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.”

Grand Teton Grizzly Bear ‘Wandered into the Campsite, Rummaged’ Trash & Food

The bear’s relocation was a necessity, however. The dense campsite, full of campers, saw the grizzly wander directly into their midst before rummaging through Arvidson’s trash and food. Several individuals would film and photograph the incident, serving as damning evidence.

This “food reward” is what led to the grizzly’s tranquilization and re-habituation. The entire situation could have been so, so much worse, as several fatal grizzly bear encounters of 2021 show. Which is why Arvidson is effectively having to “pick up the bill,” one might say. With the add-on of a misdemeanor for her carelessness, of course.

“It could pose a danger to humans if the bear were to have another similar incident,” the Dept. of Justice states. “Euthanizing the bear may become necessary… The amount of restitution to be paid by Arvidson covers the National Park Service’s costs for this operation, including the cost of a GPS collar now necessary to track the bear’s movement.”

Both grizzly bears and black bears make Grand Teton National Park their home, and have for eons. They’re a common sight for tourists, but should never, ever be party to close-up encounters. Let’s keep the wild wild, Outsiders!

To help do so, “all food items with a smell must be stored in a bear-resistant food storage locker… Or in a hard-sided vehicle with the doors locked and the windows closed day and night,” the Department of Justice clarifies. “Never store food, garbage or toiletries in tents.”

For more information on how to successfully deter a bear encounter, Outsider has you covered.

Outsider.com