This story is part of the Lee Enterprises series “Grizzlies and Us.” The project examines the many issues surrounding the uneasy coexistence of grizzly bears and humans in the Lower 48, which have come into focus in recent years as the federally–protected animal pushes farther into human-occupied areas. The 10-part series, comprised of more than 20 stories, was produced by outdoor reporters and photojournalists across the Rocky Mountain West.
When Kerry Gunther goes backpacking, he likes to visit the desert Southwest.
There’s two reasons the lead bear biologist in Yellowstone National Park cites for his penchant to travel south. One is that he has more time off in the winter, when bears are hibernating, and the weather in the Southwest in winter is fairly mild and free of tourists. The other reason is that he doesn’t have to worry about grizzly bears when he pitches his tent.
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“You don’t have to have that in the back of your mind,” he said.
The rest of the year, when bears are roaming the landscape, black bears and grizzlies are always top of mind for Gunther, who has spent 39 of his 62 years working