Grand Tetons National Park (part 4): Bear Jams

Bear Jams are both a blessing and a curse in multiple ways. On one hand, it makes it a bit easier to know that there is something worth stopping to photograph when there already are a bunch of other cars pulled off the side of the road, but then again it means you’re elbow to elbow with a crowd of people following whatever critter you’re photographing. It is probably not great for the animals to be habituated to crowds of people nearby, but it also probably tends to be safer – both with the crowds discouraging animals from attacking but also with the park rangers and the phenomenal volunteer wildlife management people ensuring both the crowds and the animals’ safety. I made a point to stop and express my appreciation to the rangers and volunteers almost every opportunity I got – to a couple of them I thanked them for all their hard work dealing with these dangerous animals, and then pointed to all the humans and said, “You know… all of us… ” – which earned me a hearty chuckle each time. It is definitely a double-edged sword for sure. When people get to experience these animals in-person, you almost can’t possibly walk away without gaining at least some level of respect and feeling of responsibility to care for and protect these animals and their habitat… but to make that possible, people basically need to be fairly close to these animals. The best we can do is hope to do so with minimal impact.

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