Hungry Bears

by mc

Vintage photograph of black bears begging for  food from automobile

Black bear w/ cub in search of a handout – or trying to steal a car

Vintage photos of bears begging for food from cars in parks like Yellowstone are fairly common. The practice seems to have started surprisingly early on, according to a site dealing with the history of such things at Yellowstone: “In 1910, the first accounts of black bears begging for human food handouts along park roads were reported. By the 1920s roadside ‘panhandling’ by black bears for human food handouts was common… As park visitation and the number of bear-human conflicts began to increase, park managers became more concerned with the situation. Between 1931 and 1959, an average of 48 park visitors were injured by bears and an average of 138 cases of bear-caused property damage were reported each year.”

This shot shows what may have been a sort of training session, with the mother observing as the little one is unable to even reach the window. The photographer seems to have been not that fearful, as he/she was a little over half a car-length from the action…perhaps unaware that about 48 people would be mauled that year. (Wildlife photographer Harry Morse, who visited Yellowstone during that era, remarks that “As a child I thought it was great that bears begged for food along the roads of Yellowstone. Park officials kept a lid on the annual number of people getting mauled and when it happened you didn’t hear about it.”) The practice is, of course, now banned – along with just about everything else in today’s world. Here is a nice color shot from National Geographic showing a couple of bears being photographed by onlookers.