ABSTRACT

Roughly thirty years after its establishment as a U.S. national park in 1872, Yellowstone documented its fi rst human fatality due to grizzly bear attack. A male tourist chased a grizzly cub up a tree. The cub’s mother “attacked the man and, in doing so, ripped out his breastbone and one lung.”1 On another occasion in 1961, a three-year-old male grizzly gradually lost his shyness of humans after spending time near a park crew’s encampment. He unearthed the remains of buried lunch trash and even accepted food scraps thrown to him by humans. Two years later “this thoroughly manconditioned grizzly was shot in June 1963 by Park rangers after molesting visitors camped in wilderness country near Lewis Lake.”2 Although grizzly bear attacks are extremely rare in national parks, and fatalities even rarer,3 these cases do pose an interesting question: To what degree, if any, may we hold nonhuman animals morally accountable for the injuries they infl ict on humans? If in our parable, for example, bears rather than men had left the traveler for dead along the side of the road, would we proceed to label these animals “robbers” (λησταῖς)—a title possessing a clearly negative moral connotation?