Two Postcard Views of Bear Feedings in Yellowstone
(Below) Union Pacific logo from the reverse side of this postcard.

For much of Yellowstone's history, feeding bears was a tolerated practice. The postcard above, one of a series of cards advertising the Union Pacific Railroad via West Yellowstone as the best route to Yellowstone, helped to perpetuate the myth that such behavior was hardly more dangerous than feeding the family dog. Garbage from Yellowstone's hotels was regularly fed to bears, often in front of a seated audience of tourists (as seen in the postcard below). In light of research on Yellowstone's bear population in the 1950s and 1960s, this practice was deemed unacceptable. As long as bears depended on humans for food, increased bear/human conflict would persist unnecessarily. In addition, this unnatural diet was not good for the bears. The decision was made to stop feeding bears garbage and let them find their own food. By the early 1970s this plan was in practice, and garbage dumps were closed, garbage cans bear-proofed, and regulations against feeding bears were enforced. Since that time, bear/human conflicts have decreased and Yellowstone's bear population has adapted well to finding its own food supplies.
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