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Wildlife Photographers Pull Focus To GTNP Policies

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The fining of a wildlife photographer for being too close to wildlife in Grand Teton National Park recently has fellow photographers crying foul.

Tom Mangelson is one such professional wildlife photographer accusing the park service of  harassment in their case against Tim Mayo, a Jackson resident. Mangelson, Mayo and others suggest the actions by the park come in retaliation to their outspoken criticism of certain park policies.

K2 Radio’s, Karen Snyder, spoke with Mangelson who outlines two of the issues.

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Key to the concerns for Wildlife Photographer Tom Mangelson and others involved in a current dispute playing out, in part, on the editorial page of the Jackson Hole News and Guide revolves around the longstanding annual elk hunt in Grand Teton and the potential effect it could have on a bear habituated to it as a source of food. Mangelson describes what he believes is a practice putting both bear and human lives at risk.

“It’s a classic example of a bear learning- there very smart, very intelligent- these bears have learned to listen to the gun shot and they will run to the gun shot and they’ll find the gut pile and they’ll get a meal. And most bears-you can look it up and see how many hunters have been killed in conflicts- and most of them are because they’re standing over an elk gutting it out and a bear runs in the direction of the gunshot. Its just totally a dinner bell.

These bears are coming clear out of the north end of their home range to find this food source. I saw 18 hunters one day and four bears, 399 and her four grown cubs ran right between the hunters and it was so close. I still shudder to think about it, because these four, the young ones were almost as big as the mother, and she just happened to pick a line between hunters. If she would have run into somebody,  they would have shot her or she would have killed a couple people. Its totally irresponsible of the park to let that happen.”

Another practice Mangelson questions is the way trapping of Grizzly bears for study is carried out. He sites the two, now world-famous bears, 399 and her cub turned-mother, 610.

“There are records of females being trapped. One particular one had three cubs that were killed outside the trap by wolves. So if that happened to 399 or 610 and her cubs all hell would break loose, because she’s become such an iconic fixture seen by millions and millions of people that have visited Teton Park.

The park service for some reason feels that if they don’t cooperate with the researchers then they won’t be on the Interagency Grizzly Bear  Study Team which involves Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Fish and Wildlife and Game and Fish departments. But to risk these iconic, incredible animals to any trapping is unconscionable and it’s irresponsible.”

Look for a response from park and wildlife officials in coming days.

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