When bears feel threatened or smell food, they can be very dangerous. Image: Flickr/romainguy/CC-ND

Just outside Yellowstone National Park on Wednesday, two people were injured and one was killed when a female bear rampaged through Soda Butte Campground. This Montana bear attack appears to have been unprovoked, though the National Park Service is investigating. While camping is normally very safe, this attack highlights that wild animals can be very dangerous.

Bear attack at Soda Butte Campground

The bear attack in Montana’s Soda Butte Campground started in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. One man was killed, a teenager was left with calf wounds and one woman was badly mauled. The bear attacked three separate tents, and rangers evacuated the campground as soon as the dead man was discovered.

Attack appears unprovoked

Usually, campers in bear country are warned to avoid bears at all costs. It appears that the Montana bear attack, though, was unprovoked. All of the campers at the Soda Butte campground had their food in bear boxes, and no bear attractants appear to have been left out. The area was very busy with campers, and it is possible that the attacking bear could have felt her cubs were threatened.

Previous attacks at Soda Butte campground

Soda Butte Campground, in the Gallatin National Forest, has been the location of bear attacks in the past. About 10 miles outside Yellowstone National Park, the campground is 10 acres and contains about 27 campsites. In 2008, a grizzly bear attacked one man in a tent. That bear was captured and transported to Washington State University in Pullman.

Avoiding a bear attack

If you are out camping in bear country, there are a few simple steps you can take to help avoid bear attack. First, keep any and all food in either a bear-proof container, inside a vehicle or hung 10 feet up and 4 feet out from any tree. Second, put all trash in wildlife-resistant containers if they are available. Lastly, sleep at least 100 yards away from cooking areas and food storage. In general, only one grizzly bear out of 50,000 ever kills a human. Attacks like the one in Montana are very rare, and enjoying the back country can be safe if you are bear-aware.

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