This isn’t just a scary Halloween story. Grizzly bears are believed to actually follow elk hunters knowing an easy meal is just a trigger pull away.
A study conducted by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST) at Grand Teton National Park proposed this idea, and came up with a way to gather some supporting evidence. Park officials placed GPS collars on eight adult grizzlies to track their movements, specifically during elk season. It’s been said the crack of a rifle sounding through the mountains is basically like ringing a dinner bell for grizzly bears, so it’s time to get some answers.
Grizzlies don’t just have a great sense of smell. They have an incredibly astounding sense of smell! And they can “remember” certain scent trails left behind by hunters, which brings up the daunting idea that maybe elk hunter and grizzly interactions aren’t so coincidental after all. . .
According to Billings Gazette, “some estimates suggest a grizzly’s sense of smell is seven times better than a bloodhound’s, and studies have calculated the size of the bruin’s scent-detecting area as 100 times larger than a human’s. Grizzlies also possess a Jacobson’s organ in the roof of their mouth that can detect heavier moisture-borne odors.”
In addition to the GPS collars being worn by the bears, the study team asked a group of elk hunters in the targeted area to carry and return 100 GPS units to track their every step during their respective hunts.
While only showing a small sample size of data, the evidence suggests grizzlies do in fact follow elk hunters.