The Oldman Lake bear was seventeen years old when she was shot and killed by Glacier National Park Rangers last year.
She had two cubs by her side, both were darted with tranquilizers. One bled to death from a lacerated jugular vein, the other cub was sent to the Bronx Zoo, to live out it’s life in captivity. She could have grown up to have wild cubs of her own, so Glacier lost two grizzly females. What crime did the Oldman Lake Bear commit to receive the death penalty? She was curious and tolerant of people. That’s it.
Named for the backcountry campground she occasionally frequented, Oldman Lake Bear was killed because she liked to sniff backpacks and drool on tents once in awhile. She never stole food or acted aggressively to anyone.
Grizzly Bear Sighting At Old Man Lake…Click Here
Old Man Lake (This is where the Oldman sow once roamed, now she’s gone)
The saga began in 2004 when she started hanging around the Oldman Lake campground but in truth this bear had always been easy going around people, big mistake on her part.
Rangers hazed her several times, using aversion therapy. Strides were made and for two years she was a “good bear”, which means she was off their radar. In 2009 she resurfaced at the campground with cubs by her side and that’s when the decision was made to kill her and remove her cubs, even though she committed no crime. She was just a curious bear. And she was right where she was supposed to be, IN THE BACK COUNTRY!!
The public reaction to her death and the death of her cub was outrage:
From the Missoulian:
Biologist Charles Jonkel of the Great Bear Foundation in Missoula disagreed with the killings and reported numerous phone calls from concerned residents.
“The level of anger down here, oh my God, it’s unbelievable,” Jonkel said. “All kinds of people are calling me and they are mad.”
A vital breeding female was killed because she was trying to live her life in Glacier National Park and occasionally wandered around a few campsites. The park was deluged with angry letters from outraged citizens. The park took major heat for this. Their actions were not defensible in many people’s minds, no matter how much they claimed they tried to work with the bear.
Jonkel, who has been studying bears for 50 years, said he was confused as to why the park didn’t use other available options.
“Why didn’t they close the campground? Why didn’t they close the whole area?” Jonkel asked, adding that the bears paid for mistakes made by people who left out food and then left the park.
The park stated they did close the Oldman Lake campground and a few other campgrounds she visited. Well why didn’t they keep Oldman Lake campground closed and the other campgrounds as well?
People questioned why park officials didn’t consider relocating the family to the Cabinet Mountains? There had to be another option other then death?
From 2010 Revised Bear Management Plan-Glacier National Park:
“Regional relocations will generally be preferred to enhance population levels in the greater ecosystem.
Bears that are classified as HABITUATED may be released on site with behavior modification, or relocated within the Park (including bears captured outside of the Park) if a suitable release site, free of circumstances similar to the capture site, is available. HABITUATED bears may be relocated to other ecosystems or the Northern Continental Divide ecosystem outside of Glacier to enhance threatened populations.”
So what did the park do in response to taking the sows life and the life of her cub? They changed the bear management language policies to make it easier to kill grizzlies.
A bear sighting will now be a bear encounter. A conditioned bear will now define a bear like Oldman Lake Bear who did nothing to harm a person, never acted aggressively or stole food as far as anyone can tell. Before this sad incident, Oldman would not have been considered conditioned, just curious. Now, if a bear adopts her behavior, it wil be labeled conditioned and you know what the end game will be for that bear, the death penalty.
And who is to blame for her nosing around campgrounds? You don’t think people encouraged her presence, especially when they discovered she was tolerant of them? Have you ever experienced a “bear jam”, where cars come to a screechng halt along park roads when a bear emerges, grizzly or black bear? People are enamoured of these animals and ultimately they are responsible for habituating or conditioning bears. Unfortunately the bear often pays with it’s life, for being tolerant of people.
Here’s what the “rule changes” really mean:
Please take the time to comment on the Park’s “rule changes” Park rangers don’t need more leeway to kill grizzlies because that’s what the language change is all about. I believe they changed the rules to cover their actions and now other bears may be punished because of this. With budget cuts, non-lethal aversion actions, to dissuade bears, will be a less likely option. The park rangers were right to work with this bear, using aversion techniques. Where they went wrong was killing the sow, instead of exploring all availble options.
Will we be seeing more misguided scenarios like this, when bears are killed for being inquisitive? Now, if a bear looks sideways at a person it becomes a “bear encounter”, designed to be more serious then a “bear sighting”. Will each “encounter” be added to the bear’s history? If enough of these “encounters” pile up will this send the bear down the path to being a conditioned bear and ultimately a dead bear?
Please express your outrage by the May 7th deadline for public comment. Tell Glacier National Park you don’t like the new rule changes, which could result in getting more bears in “trouble” and ultimately killed. Please stand up for Oldman Lake Bear and her cub’s memory. And think about her daughter that is now in bear jail for the rest of her lfe at the Bronx zoo. They can’t speak for themselves and need our help.
For the grizzlies, For the wild ones,
TO COMMENT BY DIRECT EMAIL…CLICK HERE
TO COMMENT BY GENERAL PARK EMAIL…CLICK HERE
(Please Put Attn: Bear Management Plan and Guidelines Revision in Subject line)
TO SEND WRITTEN COMMENTS:
Superintendent, Glacier National Park
Attn: Bear Management Plan and Guidelines Revision
P.O. Box 128
West Glacier, Montana 59936
2010 Revised Bear Management Plan-Glacier National Park: click here then click on 2010 Draft Guidelines:
(New rule changes are highlighted in red)
Interaction within close proximity between bears and humans in which the bear(s) exhibit behavior identifying awareness of human presence, (altered course, bluff charge, fled the scene, etc. but not resulting in property damage or human contact. (Fled the scene? altered course? So if a bear moves away from humans, the way it’s supposed to do, it’s a “bear encounter” not a “bear sighting”? What is going on here? Bears are going to have to read a manual to know how to act around humans.)
Bears observed by people without the behavior by the bear indicating awareness of human presence. Comment [j1]: These definitions, adapted from DENA, were added to increase clarity. (So we’re gong to rely on tourists, who may have never seen a grizzly in their whole lives to tell rangers if it was a “bear encounter” or a “bear sighting”? Unbelievable!)
Describes bear behavior defined by any one or more of the following: has sought and obtained non-natural foods, destroyed property, displayed aggressive (non-defensive) behavior toward humans. Bears which repeatedly and closely approach people or repeatedly touch tents, backpacks or food storage containers in campsites where people are present, will be considered conditioned. Comment [j2]:Added this language to deal with bears that exhibit unacceptable behaviors. (Clearly added to describe Oldman Lake female)
Refers to a continuum of bear behaviors including one or more of the following circumstances: is tolerant of human presence, has become accustomed to frequenting developed areas, backcountry campgrounds, trails or roadsides, but has retained its natural foraging behavior. Comment [j3]:Inserted concept of tolerance and deleted reference to overly familiar.
Any action taken by management due to bear activity that directly affects the bear and/or the public. This includes, but is not limited to, trail postings, trail closures, area closures, campground closures, bear relocations and bear removals. Comment [j4]: Added ‘area closures’ as a management action.
Condition where a bear displays behavior consistent with what is found or expected in a free ranging natural population of bears without exhibiting “conditioned” or ”habituated” characteristics. Comment [j5]: Deleted the comment “overly familiar with humans”. (*Very subjective, open to interpretation, slippery slope)
Park defends actions, budget cuts make future cloudy for problem bears
Park Officials Questioned Over Decision to Remove Glacier Grizzlies
Park Tanger Barry Wollenzien sprays a grizzly bear down with water to keep the cub cool before being transported out of Glacier National Park. – Lido Vizzutti/Flathead Beacon
By Molly Priddy, 08-04-09
Glacier Proposes Rewrite Of Grizzly Rules
By Associated Press 4-27-10
West Glacier – Glacier National Park administrators wants to make it easier to take action against problem grizzly bears following last year’s shooting of a a popular but trouble-making bear. Under a proposal open to the public comment through May 7, the park would lower the bar to list a bear as “conditioned” –a designation that can trigger hazing or killing the bear.
Last August, park rangers shot a female grizzly — and inadvertently killed one of her cubs –after the old sow grew increasingly bold around humans over more then a decade.
The new rules wold list a bear as conditioned if the animal approaches people or repeatedly touches their tent, backpacks or food containers. Previously bears had to steal food, destroy property or display aggressive behavior toward people.
*blue notes mine
Posted in: grizzly bear, Brown bears
Tags: Old Man Lake Bear, grizzly sow, questionable bear management, grizzly cub dies, Glacier National Park