The bear paparazzi in the Grand Tetons has disbanded.  Much to our dismay, we are no longer allowed to park closer than 100 yards in our cars, or even stand up through our sunroof!  Tom Mangelsen, pictured below – he’s one of the ‘good guys’ in the white hat – calls this situation “ridiculous.”

  • Because of increasing bear jams around two grizzly mothers, Grand Teton National Park changed wildlife viewing rules Wednesday to keep people in vehicles 100 yards away from bears and wolves.

Tom Mangelsen at Bear Jam

  • The move drew immediate reaction from a prominent nature photographer, who called the restrictions “ridiculous.”
  • Previous park rules prohibited people from “willfully approaching” within 100 yards of bears or wolves but only while on foot or horseback.
  • The 100-yard prohibition now applies to vehicles, too, according to the recent clarification.
  • With grizzlies 610 and 399 and their cubs venturing around the Willow Flats area, large groups of people are stopping, and bears and cubs have been photographed darting between cars.

Grizzly No. 399 crossing road

  • Park officials also will not allow vehicles to stop along a 100-yard section of road near Jackson Lake Dam where dense willows have grown close to the pavement.
  • “Having cars parked in that area has become even more problematic,” Skaggs said. “Bears have gone in the willows and then popped up next to people. This is an untenable situation given that grizzly 610 has charged people in cars twice recently.”

Bear No. 399 crossing road

  • Those incidents led the park to prohibit people from standing up through vehicle sun roofs within 100 yards of bears, upsetting photographers who have been regularly shooting the roadside grizzly families.

Tom Mangelsen with camera peering through the sunroof of his Toyota.

“I seriously doubt if previous superintendents would have gone so far as to say people in their vehicles can’t stop within 100 yards of bears or wolves,” Jackson wildlife photographer Tom Mangelsen said. “I think this is laughable and incredibly retaliatory.”

“The new regulations underscore park hypocrisy,” Tom said. “While the park is trying to protect animals from those who would congregate along roadsides for a glimpse of a bear or elk, hunters are allowed to shoot and kill elk in the fall.  Hunters leave gut piles covered with human scent. Wildlife managers who trap problem bears do so with human food, further habituating them to people,” he charged.

“I have never seen an agency so hypocritical.”

“This is one of the most rich places to see wildlife,” Mangelsen said of Willow Flats. “You could go hiking in Willow Flats and the dense vegetation, but you can’t stop on the road, which is absolutely ridiculous.”

Read the full article in The Jackson Hole Daily at: http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/article.php?art_id=7556