Yellowstone National Park Tourists Devastated After Death of Young Grizzly Bear

by TK Sanders

Yellowstone National Park visitors watched two grizzly bears fight last weekend, a fight which resulted in the death of the younger bear. Apparently, the brawl stemmed from the older bear (a fully-grown adult) courting the mother of the younger bear (classified as a “subadult”).

Interestingly enough, the mother bear also attacked the younger subadult bear. Possibly because she was trying to scare her own offspring away from the larger, more deadly adult grizzly.

But the younger grizzly didn’t relent. At just around 150 pounds, the three-year-old subadult tried to fight the fully-matured 500-pound bear anyways. Facing a slow agonizing death in nature, Yellowstone officials had to euthanize the younger grizzly due to its injuries.

As usual, people on social media have been interjecting their opinions ever since news of the fatal fight went public. Some blamed overcrowding in parks for disrupting the bears’ natural habitats. Others got angry that people have allegedly been throwing food out for bears in recent weeks, which may have contributed to the fight. Many folks, though, just expressed sadness that the park lost a bear; and wondered what could have been done differently to save its life.

People familiar with bear habitats know that the males do not tolerate the presence of other males in their areas. So tourism probably wasn’t a factor. Adult male grizzly bears looking for mates will kill other males no matter their age if they think they’re a threat.

Yellowstone officials granted the dying grizzly bear a swift, merciful death

“The subadult is confirmed to be a male, which is not going to be tolerated by another male in the territory,” Trent Sizemore, a wildlife photographer from West Yellowstone, Montana, told USA Today Outdoors. “No humans pushed any of these bears to cause this specific incident.”

Sizemore knows these specific bears very well. He originally photographed the now-deceased subadult bear when it emerged from its den as a cub. He watched its mother naturally abandon it so it could learn to fend for itself. And he watched as it stayed relatively close to its childhood feeding area instead of finding territory without other bears that could threaten it.

The three bears (adult, mother, and subadult) were all foraging for food alongside the road in the Roaring Mountain/Clearwater Springs area last Sunday morning. The adult grizzly pinned the subadult bear down by its neck. It shook its head violently to deliver the most significant injuries.

Yellowstone officials said they “hazed the mating pair away from the road, moved visitors from the scene, and then euthanized the subadult bear and removed it from the roadside.”

Biologists performed a necropsy on the bear. They determined it suffered significant injuries, including massive head, neck and spinal wounds. It also had a broken right shoulder and a laceration in the right flank, exposing its organs.