Wildlife Vocalizations: Tyler Brasington

Brasington reflects on how his work with bears has allowed him to connect and share his passion with the public

Wildlife Vocalizations is a collection of short personal perspectives from people in the field of wildlife sciences.

It’s interesting when I reflect on my experiences in wildlife management, there isn’t one that stands out above the rest. It is a culmination of experiences with stark similarities. I’ve been lucky enough to work in bear and wildlife management for the past six years, and the experiences I treasure the most are those generated by this work.

Both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks offer roadside bear viewing opportunities that provide visitors with the chance to observe black bears and grizzly bears from a safe distance. Many visitors are left with a long-lasting, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

As the manager of hundreds of roadside bear jams each year, I often make contact with countless visitors. When I come upon a crowd of people, chances are they’re viewing some wildlife. As I glance across a group of varying demographics, the first thing that I often see is their eyes, focused and beaming, with their voices exhibiting excitement in each word they speak.

Tyler Brasington manages a bear jam, where a young female grizzly bear crossed the road in Grand Teton National Park. Bear jams are both a frequent and popular spectacle for visitors in the national park. Credit: Jessica Hadley

For some, it may be their first time seeing a bear. For others, maybe it’s their children’s first time seeing a bear. It is both the young and old—from both the U.S. and abroad. Regardless of who they are, their reactions empower me and light that spark deep in my soul.

Among the hundreds of contacts I make with each passing season, there is something very special about watching a child’s face light up with uncontrollable excitement at the sight of a bear. That spark of curiosity and wonder generated from their experience fuels my passion for the work I do. That fire burning in my soul is exhibited by an undying passion for bear conservation. It isn’t something I was ever taught; it was something I discovered.

I’ve allowed my passion to become my purpose—and now it is my profession. I love what I do, and I love sharing my knowledge, and enthusiasm about bears with others. Whenever I can interact with a child from near or abroad, that ultimately keeps me going. Whether I am down on their level with a pair of binoculars gawking, or I’ve boosted them up into the bed of my truck for a better view – sharing my excitement with the younger demographic never gets old.

Tyler Brasington greets a young boy at Sawmill Pond in Grand Teton National Park, where they discussed the importance of giving bears their space and why closures sometimes are necessary. Credit: Kathy Titley

Ultimately, today’s kids will be our decision-makers in 20 years. They will decide whether grizzly bears will roam and whether national parks still exist two decades from now. They will determine if these wild places are worth preserving and conserving. So, whenever I see a child or a young adult, I see an opportunity. An opportunity to share my passion and knowledge and maybe light their soul on fire.

Who knows? Someday, one of these children may become a wildlife professional or bear manager, inspired by the experiences they had as a child.

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Header Image: Tyler Brasington sits in front of a bear den entrance in Yellowstone National Park. Credit: Tsali Franklin