Washington, DC -- Long-time Yellowstone National Park ranger Bob Jackson charged today that grizzly dependence on tons of elk meat left by hunters surrounding the park has made the bears dangerously dependent on humans for a major food source, to the detriment of both the animals and humans. Denied a place on the agenda of the inter-agency Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee meeting scheduled for today in Jackson Wyoming, Jackson released his testimony through Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
According to Jackson, the growing prevalence of elk hunting outfitters causes grizzlies to track hunting parties, associate gunfire with food and aggressively claim elk carcasses soon after they are shot.
- Like the grizzlies that scavenged the Yellowstone garbage dumps in the 1970's, today's grizzlies are losing their fear of humans and instead view humans as a source of food;
- More grizzlies will be shot by hunters defending their trophies, their horses, and their lives as more hunters have grizzly encounters; and
- Failure to enforce wilderness protections is jeopardizing both the visiting public as well as the long-term viability of the Yellowstone grizzly population.
Habituation of the grizzly does not end after elk season; it lasts all year long and is passed from mother to cub, stated Bob Action Jackson, a 30-year back country ranger at Yellowstone. Jackson has drawn attention in the past to the role illegal salting plays in creating dangerous concentrations of elk kills around the perimeter of the park. By refusing to talk about this problem, the responsible agencies are fiddling while Rome burns.
Earlier this year Yellowstone Park issued Jackson a gag order forbidding him from speaking to reporters at any time. PEER, which is representing Jackson, is currently negotiating with the Park Service about Jackson's status. The Park Service should be listening to their people in the field, not silencing them, commented PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch.