Some of us go to great lengths to see Grizzly bears in the wild. Devin Mitsuing, 35, appears to look for bears for a more hands on interaction with the bears. Mitsuing was found guilty in trying to box with a grizzly bear after stripping off his shirt and charging at it.
Mitsuing spotted a young grazing grizzly in Canada and jumped out of his truck to challenge the bear to a fight. A witness said that he yelled at the bear for five minutes before charging it. The bear ran off. Not surprisingly, Mitsuing had been drinking. Remarkably, the bear did not respond.
The conduct is remarkably dangerous not just for Mitsuing but for the bear. When I hike around grizzly bears, I am most concerned about young adolescent bears (and mother bears with cubs). Young bears are still learning and are more likely to challenge a hiker. When such incidents occur, rangers in places like Denali will try to shoot the bear with shotgun-launched bean bags to make them less interested in approaching humans. It does not always work, particularly if the bears were able to discover food in a discarded backpack. If it does not work, the bear is killed.
Mitsuing could easily have been attacked. In such a case, there is a good chance that the bear would have been killed to protect others.
The witness called park warden in the Kootney National Park. They located Mitsuing and his friends but determined that they were too drunk to drive. Accordingly, they took them to a local motel. The next morning, the wardens said that Mitsuing was not sure where he was but insisted that he did not throw stones at the bear. He insisted “I was just trying to get a picture, was just f**king around … I thought it was a brown bear.” That did not help.
Mitsuing missed two court dates before finally appearing and being fined $4000.
The fine will go to the Environmental Damages Fund.