Welcome to my (Claire Stout) blog about my summer internship in Yellowstone National Park. I am brought here by the Student Conservation Association and given a scholarship by Americorps for my college tuition. I am interning under the head ranger at the Tower Ranger Station. This blog contains stories of my adventures and what it is like to live here in the park. There are also photos that contain me, the people I work with, and interesting things I encounter. Feel free to leave a comment and enjoy!

Yellowstone Album 3

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Recent goings-on

So two days ago, I had a pretty busy day dealing with a mother bear and her two cubs. I first came upon the bear jam at the Yellowstone River Bridge. It took about three minutes to get the road clear and everybody situated safely off the road and everybody started watching the mother bear and her two cubs for a while. Not long after everything became peaceful she started heading up towards us. I called John Kerr, because I knew this was no longer a one-person jam. There were people scattered all over the bridge and road as I tried to clear a path for her so she could cross the road (which it looked like that was what she wanted to do) and told people they had to start getting back into their cars.
Before I knew it, one of the visitors pointed behind me and said, "The bear is right behind you!" Low and behold, as I turn around, she's coming up the hill to the road about ten feet from me. Surprisingly enough, I wasn't that scared. I suppose I am getting used to these bears, and every time I'm near one, my stomach doesn't do flip flops anymore.
Scared or not, I was still WAY too close to the bear. No matter how comfortable you can get with a wild animal or how comfortable they are with you, they are still considered dangerous and unpredictable. So I did next what we are taught to do: back away slowly facing the bear and make sure the visitors, who did not listen to me and get back into their cars, were backing up along with me. My bear spray was out just in case. The bear looked at me for a good ten seconds. I could see she was more scared than I was. She just had wanted to cross the road and couldn't understand why these two-legged pasty things kept wanting to block her way.
Discouraged, she called her cubs, both of which had already crossed halfway, back to her and she started back the way she came, back down towards the river. She then went under the bridge and started coming up the other side. By this point, both John Kerr and Amanda had arrived to help me out a bit. The bear came up the other side of the bridge, (still on the Tower side of the Yellowstone River which, by the way, is too fast for any animal, human or bear, to cross in that part). The people who weren't on the bridge were told to get back in their cars, (by me), and the bear started onto the bridge.
Now the problem here was that there was a large amount of people on the bridge. So John Kerr and I rounded them up into two groups. When worst comes to worst, and a bear is coming near you, the best thing you can do is get a large group of people together. The chance that a bear will come at you with a large group of people is very minimal. I was in charge of one group while John Kerr took the other group. Amanda was at the other end of the bridge.
For the second time that day, the bear came ten feet from myself and my group. Again she paused and looked at me, he cubs wailing from stress as they ran by her. She turned away and kept walking across the bridge. Two motorcycles got in her way. Why they did, I have no idea. It was a very bad choice on their part, because at this point it caused her to start running, which in turn scared the visitors. There was one lady who wasn't paying attention and was walking on the other side of the bridge, back to the bear. When she finally noticed the bear behind her, running in her direction, she started running, (which by the way, you never want to run from a bear). Eventually the bear and her cubs got safely across, (with out any incidents with people as well) and headed towards the shore line. Ten minutes later she then came up and crossed the road yet again. A group I was with had a little girl who got scared because she was so close to the bear. I did my best to calm her down and talk to her about proper bear safety.
Amanda left to go patrol somewhere else, and John Kerr and I went to the Yellowstone river Picnic area, which it looked like where she was headed next. She skirted the edge of the picnic area and scared some hikers out of their wits (who, by the way, did exactly what they were supposed to do when they saw a bear). She then crossed the road again, to go swim in a small pond.
For the forth time she crossed the road and went into the woods out of sight.

Yesterday, John Kerr, Sara and I were at this one jam with a cinnamon black bear for pretty much most of the day. This was the bear that had walked towards me on the road that day that I was all alone and no people and no cars near me. Sara and I have decided to call him Captain Pirate because he is missing one eye.

Tango's Dog sitting is going well. John M. is supposed to be back this morning so there will be no more Tango sleeping on my feet at night anymore. I guess I'll have to find some other space heater.

1 comment:

  1. Hi - Lovely photos and story, thanks. I'm a friend of Ranger John Kerr who is/was in the Tower District of Yellowstone mentioned in your text. If you see John K., please give him my best regards. We last emailed in September, '09 I'd enjoy hearing from him again (photos welcomed :-) It's an exciting place to be there. I am in Vancouver WA Keep safe.

    Russ Butler songbook24@gmail.com