Thursday, April 17, 2014 Headlines & Global News

Why the Grizzly Bears Started Attacking Humans in Yellowstone Park?

By Julie S | Jun 03, 2013 08:57 AM EDT

Why the Grizzly Bears Started Attacking Humans in Yellowstone Park?
(Photo : Reuters)

Recently, attacks of grizzly bears on humans, both in and out of Yellowstone Park are increasing.  With mauling incidents on the rise, park rangers have recommended hikers to bring bear spray, much like pepper sprays but in larger containers. Investigators are now looking for clues on why the bears are now attacking for no particular reason.

Grizzly bears, or Urus arctors horriblis, are a subspecies of the brown bears.  The bear got its name from the long white-tipped guard hairs located on its back and shoulders, giving it its "grizzly" look. The grizzly bears normally dwell in the moorlands of North America, in most of the lower 48 states. Although protected by law, the grizzlies can be hunted legally in the wild areas of Alaska and Canada.

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Grizzly bears now only inhabit what is half of their historical range. Once, they were found from Alaska all the way down to Mexico, even the Great Plains.  When the Europeans came to the country, the grizzlies were displaced and were forced to move to high elevations and remote woodland areas.

Usually solitary predators, the grizzlies are omnivores, with around 80 to 90 percent of their diet coming from plants such as berries. They also prey on large and small mammals, such as elk, caribou, and moose, when given the opportunity. They are also fond of eating fish like trout and salmon when in season.

It is very obvious that humans are the biggest threat to the grizzly's habitat. With people now living more closely to the bear's natural territories, contacts between the two species are definitely unavoidable. When a grizzly becomes accustomed to human food, or has attacked a human, they become more hostile and have to be euthanized. Climate change has also played a big factor in decreasing their range.

Grizzly bears usually wary of human contact, but people also need to be extra careful when they are in areas where bears are known to roam. Clapping, whistling and making noises during hiking is suggested, and these are usually enough to keep them away.

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