This weekend, the New York Times reported that rapper Kanye West has been spending time in Cody, Wyoming, with mixed reactions from local residents. Several very Kanye details are shared, such as the rapper’s purchase of “two to six” Ford Raptor pickup trucks, which he uses to travel to and from his two ranch properties in Cody and nearby Greybull.
Some Cody residents expressed initial concerns about having a new superstar in their town, including one columnist who worried that the new celebrity couple will “ride our horses, most likely whipping them if their gait doesn’t suit their sense of entitlement fancy” (as we all worry, of course). Other Cody inhabitants shared pleasant stories about their encounters with West about town, saying, “there’s not an easier guy to talk to.” While some complaints seemed like real logistical issues to think about when a mega-celebrity holes up in a small town, other grievances seemed more rooted in old-fashioned racism. For example, as Billboard reported, some locals claimed that West’s presence could increase the crime rate.
But while Kanye West is certainly a polarizing figure, and one certain to “disrupt” a small town of 10,000 people, he is distracting the people of Cody from a much more real threat: vicious grizzly bears.
Hunters in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem apparently face “dozens of encounters annually” with grizzly bears. “They come down and attack people and chew them up. In the park they killed and ate a person.” John Malmberg, publisher of the Cody Enterprise, the town’s print publication, told the Times.
While Kanye West sightings can be overwhelming—given both the rapper’s extensive discography and fondness for traveling in fleets of Ford Raptors and Russian ATVs—he is but a man going about his business in Wyoming; he might have two more ranch properties in the state than most of us, but what does that matter? Is this more important than the possibility of being maimed or killed by a grizzly bear?
In situations where you might encounter a bear, The Wildlife Management Institute recommends carrying bear spray, and having it easily accessible in the event of an attack. Unfortunately, bear spray is not a guaranteed deterrent. In a 2018 grizzly bear attack—where an adult female grizzly bear and her male offspring attacked two men, killing one, as the men harvested meat from an elk carcass they’d killed the day before—both men had bear spray with them, but an investigation concluded that though it had been implemented, it was not used in time to save them.
In Cowboy State Daily, author and rancher Cat Urbigkit says, “Remember the general rule: Play dead for a defensive attack, but fight for your life in a predatory attack.”
And if you see Kanye West in Wyoming, don’t let his eco-unfriendly fleet of Fords (the Raptor gets 15 miles per gallon in the city) distract you from the real danger of Wyoming: being mauled by a grizzly bear.