Grand Teton National Park is home to some of the most magnificent wildlife in the American West. As part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the park’s temperate climate hosts beloved species such as elk, bison, and both black and grizzly bears. People from around the world consistently identify wildlife viewing as one of the top reasons they visit Grand Teton.
In an effort to protect bears and educate visitors about safe wildlife viewing practices, Grand Teton created the Wildlife Brigade program, staffed primarily by volunteers, in 2007. These volunteer members are dispatched to “wildlife jams” on park roads throughout Grand Teton. The Wildlife Brigade also patrols picnic areas and campgrounds for unsecured food and members act as ambassadors for the park. Animal enthusiasts from around the country volunteer on the Brigade, and together they make Grand Teton safer for animals and humans alike.
It is with great sadness that the Foundation learned of the passing of one of Grand Teton’s long-time Wildlife Brigade members last winter, Frank Mascia. “Frank had incredible enthusiasm for working wildlife-jams seven days a week and he delighted many visitors each fall. The Wildlife Brigade and park visitors will miss his infectious smile,” said Kate Wilmot, Bear Management Specialist in Grand Teton National Park. The Foundation extends its sympathy to Mr. Mascia’s family and his many friends in Grand Teton and around the country.
A number of Mr. Mascia’s fellow Wildlife Brigade members and friends chose to memorialize his dedication to Grand Teton’s bears by funding two bear resistant food storage lockers in the park. This special support enables the Foundation to protect bears in Grand Teton by providing secure bear boxes in areas of the park that see significant bear traffic. Campers and park visitors store food and other scented items in these storage containers, and the park is able to mitigate the risk of providing human-food rewards to bears.
Plaques will memorialize Frank on both boxes and provide insight into his legacy as a Wildlife Brigade member, friend, mentor, and bear lover. One fellow wildlife aficionado, Patty Potter, shares the group’s feeling that “bear jams will never be the same.” Patty spent years patrolling Grand Teton with Frank, and she will remember his love of everything about the Tetons and his passion for sharing the park with family, friends, and visitors.
This meaningful remembrance of Frank will live on into the future. The Foundation and park have funded 482 bear resistant storage lockers to-date, leaving 518 left to meet the park’s goal of 1,000. To learn more about how you can help support the bear box program or the Wildlife Brigade, please visit our website at https://www.gtnpf.org/initiatives/wildlife/.