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Yellowstone plans policy changes after bear deaths

By Associated Press
Published April 17, 2005

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. - Yellowstone National Park officials are making changes to better protect animals after at least seven bears died last year, officials said.

Park superintendent Suzanne Lewis appointed a committee to recommend ways to reduce wildlife fatalities after one bear was shot by a usually nonlethal firecracker bullet and six others were hit by vehicles.

This year, the park will use a wider array of nonlethal projectiles, including bean bag bullets, to scare bears away from public places, officials said.

Last summer's shooting death was the first fatality from a firecracker round in more than 20 years of use, officials said. The bullet hit the bear instead of landing near it.

Rangers are trained to shoot the bullets in the direction of wildlife, not at them. The rounds are not precise and their trajectory can be changed by factors including wind, officials said.

Other planned changes include better training on the use of firecracker rounds, stricter enforcement of traffic regulations, and signs to slow traffic, officials said.

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