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Grizzly charges Yellowstone ranger after tourists get ‘dangerously close,’ video shows

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A grizzly bear charged a Yellowstone ranger after a crowd of tourists got “dangerously close” to a pair of grizzlies, officials said. | SCREENGRAB FROM JAY DAWG ON YOUTUBE

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK – When two grizzly bears began wandering around Yellowstone National Park last week, a crowd formed.

The mob of tourists lined up within 20 yards of the bears and created a “bear jam” Friday, Yellowstone officials told McClatchy News on Wednesday. A park ranger arrived and told people to get back or return to their cars, but the bear charged toward him.

“The adult male grizzly became agitated as individuals did not comply with the ranger’s instructions and approached the bears too closely to take photos and blocked them from crossing the road,” a Yellowstone spokesperson said in an email.

After the grizzly charged, the ranger fled behind his truck. He had to haze the bear back into the forest by shooting “bean bag rounds, rubber bullets and cracker shells,” park officials said. Park rangers haze bears to keep tourists safe and clear up traffic.

“The resource management bear technician in the video did an excellent job of hazing the aggressive bear away from visitors who obviously had no clue what kind of danger they were in. His actions likely saved lives,” Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly said in an email. “Non-lethal bean bags and rubber bullets were used in this situation and are some of the tools we use to haze wildlife away from visitors.”

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The grizzly charged the ranger on the same day a hiker was seriously injured by a grizzly after he came face-to-face with two while walking alone on a trail. The incident was the first time this year that a bear injured someone within Yellowstone, officials said.

Earlier in May, a grizzly ran toward a woman who was standing within feet of the bear. It looked like she was taking photos or videos with her phone when the bear charged. Park officials are now investigating the incident.

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“We’ve already seen numerous close calls with bears this year and had one visitor seriously injured last week,” Sholly said. “Visitors need to maintain appropriate distances to wildlife and understand these animals are wild and can kill or injure humans very easily if threatened.”

Bears roam all over the park, and hundreds of grizzlies roam the greater Yellowstone area, according to the National Park Service.

Tourists should stay at least 100 yards away from bears at all times at Yellowstone, and hikers should carry bear spray with them.

“All of Yellowstone is bear habitat — from the deepest backcountry to the boardwalks around Old Faithful,” park officials said. “Prepare for bear encounters no matter where you go.”

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