Visitors Asked to Respect Bear Traps and Be “Bear Aware” in Park
WEST GLACIER, MT – A long-term interagency program to monitor grizzly bear population trends in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem will continue at Glacier National Park this year. Beginning next week, state and federal wildlife biologists will deploy bait stations, automated cameras, and traps to capture and monitor grizzly bears within the park. Bait stations and trap sites are marked with brightly colored warning and closure signs. Visitors are asked to respect posted signs and not enter sites where there are grizzly bear traps or bait stations.
Glacier National Park wildlife biologists attempt to maintain a sample of up to 10 radio-collared female grizzly bears out of an estimated population of 300 grizzly bears living in the park. Trapping efforts will continue through October at various locations throughout Glacier National Park.
The interagency grizzly bear monitoring program began in 2004 and is led by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Participating agencies include: National Park Service, United States Forest Service, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and the Blackfeet Nation. Monitoring program reports can be accessed HERE.
Recent bear sightings along the Going-to-the-Sun Road mean that bears have emerged from hibernation and are venturing out looking for food in and around Glacier National Park. Both grizzly and black bears live and travel in the park. The bears hibernate during the winter months and begin to emerge from dens when temperatures warm. The bears are hungry and looking for food, especially green vegetation and the carcasses of winter-killed animals.
Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow said, “Glacier National Park is bear country and park visitors, including bike riders, should be alert for spring bear activity, and be familiar with responsible actions to maintain human and bear safety.”
Recreational visitors to the park should travel in groups and make loud noise by calling out and/or clapping their hands at frequent intervals, especially near streams and at blind spots on trails. These actions will help avoid surprise encounters. Do not approach any wildlife; instead, use binoculars, telescopes, or telephoto lenses to get closer looks. Visitors should maintain a minimum distance of 100 yards from any bear within the park.
Proper use of bear spray has proven to be the best method for fending off threatening and attacking bears, and for preventing injury to the person and animal involved. Anyone recreating in bear country is highly encouraged to have bear spray. The bear spray should be readily accessible and the user should have knowledge on how to use it. The carrying of firearms within national parks and wildlife refuges is allowed as consistent with state laws. Glacier National Park managers agree with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks’ statement: "If you are armed, use a firearm only as a last resort. Wounding a bear, even with a large caliber gun, can put you in far greater danger."
Visitors should report any bear sightings or signs of bear activity to the nearest visitor center, ranger station or by calling 406-888-7800 as soon as possible. Visit the park's WEBSITE or more information about bears and how to recreate safely in Glacier National Park.