Thursday, November 11, 2010

Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Mortality Rate Hits a Record High

Grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park

The Yellowstone National Park in the states of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana is considered to be one of the most spectacular attractions in the United States. The park is known for its unique geography consisting of pine forests, grassy meadows, snow-covered mountains, and iconic hot springs that helped shape this garden of Eden for generations. It is also one of the key hotspots in the U.S providing a rich variety of wildlife. One of the well-known inhabitants of the park are grizzly bears. Proposed as endangered species in the 1970s, these gargantuan wonders successfully flourished all over the park much to the delight of nature lovers. However, in more recent times, the population state of these magnificent beasts has been facing a bleak future.

Just recently this year, Yellowstone's mortality rate has reached a record high of 49 animals, towering the old record of 48 two years ago. The primary cause for such deaths is the loss of high-calorie foods such as the cutthroat trout and whitebark pine nuts, which the bears rely on heavily for their survival. With the loss of these key food sources, the bears are forced to search for food close to human habitations which in this case are cattle grazing allotments south and east of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Even worse is that the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has proclaimed to open a legal hunting season for the bears, especially when they prey on the cattle. The department did mention about relocating the animals away from such lands, but the bears end up in areas where they come into conflict with humans in turn worsening the situation. The year has also seen a record number of human-bear conflicts. One incident occurred on June 17th when a relocated grizzly bear attacked and killed a man near the Shoshone River. Another was where a mother bear accompanied with her cubs had terrorized a campground in Shoshone National Forest, injuring two people and killing one man.

I have a deep feeling that Yellowstone's grizzly bears need help. More importantly, the state of Wyoming is in a great need of help regarding its bear population. I personally feel that instead of proposing an open hunting season for these animals, conservationists and researchers should do something regarding their staple food diet of cutthroat trout and whitebark pine nuts. In my opinion, the first step would be to closely investigate the disappearance of these food sources and then make a final judgment. Because one cannot just propose a hunting season on a certain apex species of animals like grizzly bears when the population increases beyond the borders of a national park. There has to be some investigation done in knowing what caused that population to expand at such a rate.

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