Young Grizzly Victim of of HIt-and-Run in Yellowstone National Park

Second Collision in a Week

Highway 191 is deadly to wildlife and a number of elk, wolves and bears have been hit along this stretch over the years. It is likely the most deadly stretch of road for wildlife anywhere in Yellowstone National Park. The stretch of highway 191 between Bozeman and Big Sky to the north is also the most deadly stretch of highway for motorists in Montana. I’ve been passed a few times on snowy roads where there was a double yellow line.  It pays to drive carefully on this highway.

Highway 191 through Yellowstone

Highway 191 through Yellowstone

Young Grizzly Victim of of HIt-and-Run in Yellowstone National Park, Second Collision in a Week
National Parks Traveler.

28 Responses to “Young Grizzly Victim of of HIt-and-Run in Yellowstone National Park”

  1. Teresa Says:

    Yah. They also pass you INSIDE the park on a double yellow lined road doing about 60 in a 45 mph zone. What’s the big hurry about anyway? Aren’t you here on vacation and to SEE the sites? Sheesh.

  2. Mike Says:

    The simple solution here is a massive radar enforced automated ticket system. When people see these fines piling up in their mailboxes, only then will they care if wildlife is maimed. Usually these are trucks that you park on the side of the road at crucial points. They capture your license plate on camera while detecting your speed with radar.

    • Elk275 Says:

      Mike

      The State of Montana passed a law against the use of radar ticketing cameras and that part of US 191 is in Montana.

    • Save bears Says:

      Opps, I was going to post that, but figured, I knew the feedback I would get, Duck Elk, Incoming!!!

      LOL

    • WM Says:

      Mike,

      I never really thought about this much. Maybe you can help. Would this be a federal or WY speeding citation? Now since many of these speeders are from nearly all the 50 states, with a number of them driving rental cars and RV’s, how would all these fines be practically collected?

      Great idea, just like the stoplight cams in some of the big cities. But the collection of fines is ultimately easier in those instances, because of local enforcement, and the likelihood of a patrol officer seeing the offending car again. I guess a system like you suggest might work if you had a way of preventing exit from the Park unless they pay the fine, but raises another can of worms for administering such a program.

      I am thinking speed bumps. Ever see a big RV hit one of those at speed? Knocks the silverware out of the drawers, opens the cabinet doors, and sometimes bends the frames. Ooops. Rental again.

    • Elk275 Says:

      WM

      There is no exit of entry point in this part of the park, it is US 191. That part of the park is in Montana and I have seen both park rangers and Montana Highway Patrol stopping and ticketing a speeder. The Forest Service Law Enforcement can ticket, too. The speed limit is 55 miles per hour in the park and 65 miles outside of the park, except in the Gallatin Canyon where it is 60 miles per hour.

      I think that it is wrong to assume that the driver of that vehicle was speeding. You do not know and I do not know if speeding was the cause. It is a new moon now and very dark at night and that little bear could have come out of no where. When, I drive that part of the road at night, I drive very defensive and at the 55 MPH speed limit. Hitting a 60 pound bear is one thing, hitting a elk, moose or buffalo would ruin one’s day or maybe end one’s life. If I am traveling south of West Yellowstone, I go down the Madison not through the park because of animals and the reduce speed limit and the inherit dangers of the Gallatin Canyon to Big Sky.

    • Mike Says:

      Elk – if only Montana was as staunch against DUI as they were phantom traffic cameras.

  3. Linda Hunter Says:

    It was probably a gas guzzling SUV with one person in it. How is that for a generalization of the mean kind? Alternatively it might have been four bird watchers in a Mini-Cooper. . yeah that’s probably it.

  4. Mike Says:

    ++I never really thought about this much. Maybe you can help. Would this be a federal or WY speeding citation? Now since many of these speeders are from nearly all the 50 states, with a number of them driving rental cars and RV’s, how would all these fines be practically collected?++

    Traffic violations are easily tracked through rentals and enforced just like any other speeding ticket. You pay your fine or you lose driving privileges.

    The tickets/collection would be controlled by wherever the violation occured, similar to the gun laws.

    ++Great idea, just like the stoplight cams in some of the big cities. ++

    Yes, jsut like those.

    ++But the collection of fines is ultimately easier in those instances, because of local enforcement, and the likelihood of a patrol officer seeing the offending car again. ++

    True. But it can still be done on an interstate level.

    ++I guess a system like you suggest might work if you had a way of preventing exit from the Park unless they pay the fine, but raises another can of worms for administering such a program.++

    If they do not pay the ticket in which the violation occured, they lose driving privilege in that state, which would likely hamper their return to the park. And if it didn’t hamper their return all the way, they sure as heck would be thinking about it as they drove around, probably at a slower clip.

    ++
    I am thinking speed bumps. Ever see a big RV hit one of those at speed? Knocks the silverware out of the drawers, opens the cabinet doors, and sometimes bends the frames. Ooops. Rental again.
    ++

    Not a problem. Collection would be handled by the state which the violation occured(they would welcome the revenue) I like the speed bump idea too. The problem here is a lack of self awareness(isn’t it always?) and there’s nothign like a $100 fine or a speed bump which knocks out your silverware drwawers to pull one out of their little dream world.

    • Elk275 Says:

      Mike

      People in the west do not want taffic cameras and that is the way it is. It is seem to me like 1984 or Big Brother.

    • WM Says:

      Elk,

      Sorry. I wasn’t really addressing the specific incident with this young bear. I was addressing the larger question Mike raised about speeding and how to deal with it prospectively. Unfortunately, all wildlife suffers from inattentive drivers, who often speed to their own detriment, as well as that of the animals.

      If I understand the federal – state relationship correctly, for YNP, a Park ranger can write a speeding citation under either state or federal law for all roadways in the park, and the offender is commanded to pay the fine, or appear in federal court. Since a national park is a federal reservation, a state restriction on electronic devices (like radar guns) DOES NOT apply to roadways within the park [see 36 CFR 4.21 (d)], even if directly in conflict contrary with a state (Montana in this instance) law.

      ——

      Mike,

      I may have answered my own question – it appears it is a federal violation to speed in a NP (and may be a state law violation as well), and a citation is referred to federal court [See 36 CFR Part 4, generally].

      Again, I haven’t thought about this much, but expect a significant percentage of Park visitors for YNP are once every 5 or more year visitors. Loss of driving privilege in a for non-payment of an infraction is viewed by some drivers as no big deal, and if you are driving a rental car it takes a while (if ever, I understand) for a ticket to catch up with you. I think the same thing occurs with parking tickets. People think because they illegally park in a rental car the parking, a parking ticket will not catch up with them. Some/many times it doesn’t, although linking of databases may begin to eliminate that avoidance.

      If one ignores a speeding ticket issued in a NP, that appears to be a federal infraction, and bad things may follow, possibly worse than in a particular state.

      But, here is the kicker, Mike. How would it be determined that you have a previous ticket unless you are caught again? Big problem, especially if you are driving yet a different vehicle!

      ++The tickets/collection would be controlled by wherever the violation occured, similar to the gun laws.++

      Not quite sure what you mean here, but gather you were referring to federal in park violations (like illegally shooting off the gun you are now legally allowed to carry in an NP). So, apparently that would be the federal system.

      And knowing what we now know, those electronic speed signs that one often sees in school zones could easily be strategically deployed in NP’s to tell drivers they are going too fast. Maybe they already are. As for going the next step to issue tickets based on an electronic device and a photo , it would be interesting to see what the NP view is on that. It might also be true that there are some calibration issues that provide an easy defense. In contrast, the stop light cams just measure that you crossed a particular line when the light was red – an easier case to make, that does not hinge on proper calibration of the measuring instrument, as does a radar gun.

      Last, from this article, the young bear incident was a hit and run. That ought to make anybody’s blood boil.

  5. vielfrass Says:

    Traffic cameras are totally unnecessary

  6. Mike Says:

    Traffic cameras are worth it if they save rare species.

    People don’t wake up from their own paths unless someone takes something away from them they want or makes them pay money.

    I’ve been on 191 often doing video work, photography and fishing. That road is a nightmare and it needs proper enforcement.

    And I have to say that I’m not shocked when almost all of the dangerous drivers I see on 191 are in huge SUV’s, steering the bloated monstrosities as if they were sports cars.

    • Paul White Says:

      There was a case this last year in New England where students at a highschool, using photo quality printer paper, printed out fake liscence plates. While they wouldn’t fool a human, they spoofed the speed cameras just fine. They were targeting unpopular teachers…write down thier plate, print out the number, stick it in your plate holder and run a red light on camera.
      There’s also the fact that the owner may not have been driving; he may have lent his car out, or a different family member may be using it, but he’s still the one that gets the tickets.

    • Elk275 Says:

      Another grizzly is grilled

      http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/article_4cd7e4ac-74b8-11df-b57f-001cc4c002e0.html

      Well this one is in Montana and there is a definite law against traffic cameras in the state.

    • Save bears Says:

      I have also got a report from a guy I know working in Glacier National Park, that two cubs have been killed by cars on the Many Glacier road already this year, and there was an article that stated, two grizz have been seen on the Missouri outside of Great Falls, seems to me, the population is growing..

    • Mike Says:

      ++I have also got a report from a guy I know working in Glacier National Park, that two cubs have been killed by cars on the Many Glacier road already this year, and there was an article that stated, two grizz have been seen on the Missouri outside of Great Falls, seems to me, the population is growing..++

      I can tell you that the Rangers who work that stretch of road are furious about the speeds people travel, but they are undermanned.

      I will tell you that the Many Glacier road is the most wildlife rich area I’ve ever seen in the lower 48, and that includes Teton and Yellowstone. The blind corners there and the thick woods mean you need to DO THE SPEED LIMIT, or even below. I drive five under the posted limit because if an animal leaps from the forest there, your reaction time is almost nothing. Sadly, many people do 20mph over and higher through this sensitive wildlife corridor. One of the major offenders is work vehicles for the lodge. I’ve been asked by rangers and other GNP personell what my suggestion was to reduce collisions on Many Glacier road. My response? Tear down that moldy old hotel. That’s what causes most of the traffic.

      I’ve personally ran out in front of cars on that road before waving my hands before blind corners for bighorn sheep and even huge bull moose who had two feet on the road just behind the curve.

      There is no question that Many Glacier would benefit greatly from speed signs, more speed bumps(not just near the end of the road but from the entrance station to the hotel) and radar enforcement.

  7. Si'vet Says:

    Having just driven from west Yellowstone zoo to Bozeman, I’m confident the hiway dept. can now remove all the lighted elk crossings sign and game crossing signs, and maybe put in more cameras.

  8. Si'vet Says:

    WM, calving and fawning season I can here their little bones being crushed and crunching from here… Hopefully that’s a thriving sound..

  9. WM Says:

    Sorry, Si’vet, I am missing your point.

    Another couple of thoughts on love ’em – hate ’em speed bumps. Unless they were some kind of seasonal temporary device they would sure play hell with the snowplows, and they are probably illegal on an arterial highway such as 191.

  10. Linda Hunter Says:

    Interesting discussion but as someone mentioned maybe speed is not the only problem. . perhaps putting temporary signs along the road where each animal was killed with a picture would help. People don’t believe what the don’t see and maybe one summer’s worth of road kill represented along the road may make them pay more attention. It works in Baja where they leave the debris from car and truck wrecks along with crosses and flowers.

    • Save bears Says:

      191 is one of the most dangerous roads in Montana, along with animal hits, there are several accidents on this road with fatalities every year. There is a lot of warning signs on this road, in addition to lots of white crosses, they also have a experimental animal warning system in a couple of spots that are suppose to activate and warn drivers if there is wildlife on the road. I don’t know if they have got this system working regularly or not, it seems that often times when I drive 191 the system is down.

      I like the drive down 191 in the daylight, but dread it in the dark, there are lots of blind areas that an animal can just appear from and you don’t need to be speeding to hit an animal..

      The moral thing would be to stop and report an animal hit, but I am not aware of any laws that require you to do so even if it involves an animal on the endangered species list…

  11. Si'vet Says:

    WM, you had alluded to it being calving season, used to be my favorite time of year, find a ridge, pull out the spotting scope not disturbe a sole and count fawns, calves, watch for twins, knowing that by the first of July, that’s a good indication of what’s heading into the winter. For the last several years those ratio’s have been so low, and now knowing there is no cut off date, their easy prey from the day there born till..

  12. Hilljack Says:

    Are you required to report an animal when you hit it in the park. You don’t have to anywhere else so why would someone do it in a park. Yes it was a grizzly and they are listed but animals get hit by cars all the time across the country so unless you want to stop people from driving I think you should just suck it up its not the end of the world.

    • mikarooni Says:

      I think you’re trash.

    • WM Says:

      A couple of reasons to report an animal you hit in a national park.

      1) It may be required under state law in that particular park if damage to your vehicle exceeds a certain amount (say $500) – duty to report the accident.

      2) The animal might be injured and not dead, and especially in the case of a grizzly bear which can get pretty nasty when injured, it could be an ongoing public safety issue.

      3) If the animal is in the road it might need to be moved or be a cause for another accident.

      4) Depending on species, the meat might be salvaged for use at a correctional institution or elsewhere.

      and, this is the most important,

      5) It is the right thing to do.

    • Save bears Says:

      In Montana,

      Law prevents you from salvaging the meat, you cannot pick up road kill…

      In Montana you are required by law to move any animal that presents a hazard to any other driver..

      The particular area that this bear was hit, presents some difficulties, it would take a ranger over an hour to get there from OF and even longer, there are no ranger stations in this area.

      Yes, it is the right thing to do, but in Montana, most people don’t even know they are in the park, let alone, think of a bear any different than they do any other wildlife.

      There could be a lot of things that prevented this bear from being reported, what if someone went into the windshield and they were simply trying to get to the closest medical facility?

      There is really not much in West for medical care, and your still a heck of a long ways from Bozeman..


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