I realize that Angus Phillips's July 24 Sports article, "On a Fishing Trip, an Animal Bears Watching," was meant to be a light-hearted, entertaining piece, but Phillips's conduct in the presence of a Yellowstone National Park black bear was reckless and unethical. It appears that Phillips violated park regulations that prohibit "approaching on foot within 100 yards of bears." According to Phillips, he spotted a bear walking across a meadow and "tried to snap pictures but it was pretty far away." Phillips and his fishing partner decided to intercept the bear. They "made a dash for the truck, sped ahead 250 yards and made another dash on foot through a sparse cluster of evergreens." They arrived "just in time," and found themselves a mere 15 yards from the bear.
This is harassment of wildlife. Like tourists in Great Smoky Mountains National Park who jump out of their vehicles to get a snapshot of a roadside bear, Phillips and his partner were playing Russian roulette with a bruin. They were close enough to be within the bear's "personal space": the distance that, if entered, will cause an animal to fight or flee. If the bear charges, you're in trouble. If the bear flees, you're lucky. Either way, you're harassing wildlife and risking your life.
-- Dave Smith
I was horrified by Angus Phillips's article. It is illegal to approach within 100 yards of bears. Bears are unpredictable and dangerous. The world may be just as well off with a few less stupid people, but habituation puts the bears at risk.
Phillips may not have seen the sign about the dangers of buffalo, but under park policy he must have been given a handout with that information as he entered the park. Far more people are injured by buffalo every year than by any other animal in the park.
I have been going to Yellowstone National Park for well over 60 years, and I really hate to see people do things like what Phillips described. Moreover, it is very irresponsible to write about doing these things and give the impression that the behavior is okay.
-- Marion Dickinson