National Geographic : 1986 Feb
intimate look into the lives of these crea tures. Close the dumps gradually, the Craigheads urged the park-let the bears develop new centers of activity in the wild. "We were sure the cold turkey treatment would disperse the bears far and wide," John said. "Then we would really have problems." But park authorities opted for cold turkey. Many grizzlies dispersed to park campgrounds and garbage sources out side the park. More than 180 ended up dead-many, along with scores of black bears, at the hands of park staff. After several years the Craigheads' calculations showed grizzly numbers plummeting. Park biologists insisted the bears were thriving. The Craigheads left Yellowstone in 1971 in a dispute over the freedom of independent research on public lands. The debate her alded an era of grizzly biopolitics. Yellow stone's grizzlies became the most debated bunch of bruins on earth. "The Craigheads were absolutely right about the bears dis persing and running into problems," Larry Roop, a Wyoming bear researcher, told me. One can stand with one foot in Yellow stone Park and the other in the fast-growing town of West Yellowstone, where there were 140 trash Dumpsters and more than a hundred garbage cans available for picking the night I visited. A team of wildlife manag ers tried to trap grizzlies dining in the town. There were bears in backyards, in Laundro mats, and on motel porches. "This is fan tastic!" one man told me. "We spent a week JAMES P. BLAIR (BELOW); LOWELLGEORGIA Yellowstone's beleaguered grizzlies: After killing sheep on adjacentland, two young bears were trapped (below) and returnedto the park.A year latertragedy struck when theirmother, tranquilized after stalking sheep outside the park, was suffocated by her radio collar despite attempted mouth-to-muzzle resuscitation(above). When the park's garbage dumps were closed, grizzlies increasinglyforagedin nearby towns such as West Yellowstone, where a sow, sedated and her open eyes shieldedfrom the sun, awaits the trip home.