Posted: Nov 5, 2012 6:37 PM by Adam Bell
Updated: Nov 6, 2012 9:27 AM
WEST YELLOWSTONE - A former Pennsylvania man was mauled and killed by a bear at the Animals of Montana facility north of Bozeman on Sunday. This is just one facility locally where grizzlies are held captive. Another is the Grizzly Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone where officials say interactions between humans and grizzlies do not happen.
"First of all, we don't go in with the animals. That's our policy. We never go in with the bears. Once they come into the facility, we consider them to be wild animals," says director for the center, John Heine.
Heine says keeping the employees safe is a top priority here at the center. They have what is called a two door policy, where a minimum of two doors must be between the employees and the bears at all times. While trying to take care of animals without interacting can be challenging at times, they find ways to do so while keeping the employees safe.
"We try to keep everything remote so for instance, even when we feed them, we put the food in the habitat and then we let the bears out into the habitat," says Heine.
Heine also says that this facility is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, something only 10% of the businesses like the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center across the continent have.
"I don't know of any facility that is accredited by AZA that goes in with grizzly bears. There might be other bears, I don't know. We decide to be hands off for obvious reasons. They're unpredictable, they're big, they're dangerous," adds Heine.
Heine says another reason that they don't have human bear interactions at the center, is that they want the bears to think they are out in the wild and in a cage, by adding the human factor, it takes away their focus from being in the wild to the humans. Therefore they limit that by not having the humans in the cage.