Source: Nature: "The Good, the Bad, and the Grizzly"
Major corporate support for the Nature collection was provided by Canon U.S.A. and SC Johnson. Additional support was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the nation’s public television stations.
The grizzly bears of Yellowstone National Park were once habituated to human presence, surviving on trash intentionally left by the park's attendants. Since the reversal of the park's policy in 1972, the grizzly bears have learned to hunt, ending their dependence on humans. The grizzlies' return to the wild has positively impacted their survival, but has been detrimental to cattle ranchers who have settled in the surrounding areas of Yellowstone. In this video segment from Nature, meet a cattle rancher who was unable to prevent the bears from attacking his livestock.
Grizzly bears were once scarce in Yellowstone National Park and on their way to extinction. After becoming designated as an Endangered Species over three decades ago, governmental protections have allowed these natural predators to make a comeback. But the grizzly’s success has come at a destructive and often dangerous price for people living nearby. Maintaining a delicate balance between humans and the resurgent grizzlies continues to challenge conservationists today.
Grizzlies now range across 17,000 square miles of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, including three states, six national forests, two national parks and lots of private land.
But the bears don’t recognize these boundaries. And one man’s wilderness icon – is another’s worst nightmare.
Terry Schramm: Once a bear starts killing cows he doesn’t stop. I mean it’s easy for them. I mean it’s easier than chasing down an elk, it’s easier than fightin’ with a mother moose, and you know, meat is a big part of their diet.
Terry Schramm: What goes on out there at night would horrify any livestock person in the country. I’d sit out there and watch ‘em. You know, bears just constantly testing these cattle even though they were in a guarded position. They would work on ‘em and work on ‘em and work on ‘em until they’d finally get ‘em to break and run and then they’d get their kill.
Terry Schramm ran cattle up in the Bridger-Teton National Forest south of Yellowstone for 20 years. His cattle allotment was on public land inside the Grizzly Recovery Area.
In the old days, Terry could have shot a marauding bear to defend his cattle. But under the Endangered Species Act, protection goes to the grizzly.
Terry Schramm: I was having a lot of problems in 1992, I’d found about six kills in a two week period. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to illegally kill the bear, so I called Game and Fish and I asked them to come and they caught the infamous 203 bear, and I asked them what they were going to do with it and they said they were just going to put a collar on it and turn it loose. And I said “right here?” and they said, “yeah.” And I said, “Well, I didn’t call you guys because I wanted to know how much this bear weighed or what his temperature was, I want him out of my cows.” And they said “Oh no, he’ll leave you alone now, we’ve trapped him and that’ll discourage him, he’ll go back to the wilderness or whatever.” So they turned him loose, and he went right back to killing cattle again. He was probably responsible for well over a hundred cattle kills and he’s not the only one, but he was one of the major players.
In the end, the grizzlies won out. Terry pulled his cows off the allotment and left it to the bears.
Terry Schramm: I figured that the bears ate twenty-five tons of Walton beef that summer and I said that’s quite a significant food source and I think I’ll just take it away from ‘em. Well, I did. Now who’s got the problems?
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