Glacier Park Photographer

Glacier Park Photographer
Fall In Glacier National Park ©

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Glacier National Park - Crown of the Continent Ecosystem - Bear Research

In a press release issued May 15, 2017 Glacier National Park announced that it will begin it's annual inter-agency effort to monitor grizzly bears throughout the Crown Ecosystem. The  Park Services is asking the public to avoid entering trapping locations, and always have your bear spray handy and know how and when to use it. 

A young male grizzly bear. © Tony Bynum
Here's a grizzly location map from about 2008 . . . By the looks of it, at least within the study area and on it's margins, Grizzly bears have been, or will likely be everywhere at one time or another. Sure, some will venture beyond where humans think they should go, after all, they are still bears.  Click here see more photographs of wild grizzly bears.
The dots represent the average location of each bear. Glacier Park is north of Highway 2 and south of the Canadian Boarder. Source: Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks, "Montana Outdoors," Magazine, 2009. 
According to the press release, areas where bears are actively being trapped or baited will be marked and flagged so heed the warring and avoid entering these areas. Research is a necessary part of management our resources. We should respect the request and not disrupt the data collection activities, or the bears for that matter. In a similar story, a number of years ago a man was actually killed by a bear after entering a study closer area. 

Thoughts on Bear Management 

Although I personally believe we have the data we really need at this point (researchers will always come up with more questions than answers). I believe the real problem for our bears, and most wildlife is not that we don't know enough about them, but we don't do enough of the right things, to allow them to live. It comes down to habitat, and politics. 

The two things, loss of habitat though encroachment mostly from new homes and towns expanding into the remaining high quality habitat, and the strength of the political machine to talk about the importance of habitat but then make decisions that, at least for the foreseeable future (our lifetimes and our children's) are not good for wildlife, particularly bears. 

A grizzly bear sow with her two cubs. © Tony Bynum
As a society we can't just leave a trial a trail, we have to turn it into a road. A road then becomes a highway and soon enough there are 14 foot fences down either side of a 500 foot easement streaming semi's and cars, 3 wide each way for miles. Yet we still study bears to try to find out what they need. I'll tell you what they need. To start, they need space and to be left un molested. 

I've always thought we could do away with most of the monitoring, and expense, if we would do things that we know protect the habitat. But since we cant do that, we have to keep looking for more minutia or that silver bullet that says, "if we do this, it will be okay, go ahead and drill right here." 

More education and less study is what we need. We need an ecological ethic. 

Well folks, I'll leave you with this from Aldo Leopold: 

“The time has come for science to busy itself with the earth itself. The first step is to reconstruct a sample of what we had to start with. That in a nutshell is the Arboretum.” The Arboretum and the University, The River of the Mother of God.

Full copy of the Glacier National Park Grizzly Monitoring Press Release 

May 15, 2017
Lauren Alley 406-888-5838

Annual Bear Monitoring and Capturing Begins
Visitors urged to be alert and follow bear safety protocols while hiking in the park

WEST GLACIER, MT – Each year, Glacier National Park participates in an interagency effort to monitor grizzly bear population trends in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.

To monitor population trends, bait stations, automated cameras, and traps are used to capture and mark the animals. There are an estimated 300 grizzly bears living in the park. The park’s goal is to maintain a sample of up to 10 radio-marked female grizzly bears for this monitoring effort. This year, some bears may receive a collar for the first time. Others may have a collar replaced if it is near the end of its useful lifespan.

Brightly colored warning signs identify bait stations and trap sites. Visitors are required to heed these signs and not enter closed areas. In 2010, a man was killed by a grizzly bear seven miles east of Yellowstone National Park after wandering into a capture site. Trapping efforts will continue May 15 through October at various locations throughout the park.

“Glacier National Park is bear country, and park visitors should be prepared for bear sightings, in addition to following other hiking safety precautions,” said Jeff Mow, Glacier National Park Superintendent.

Park visitors should travel in groups and make loud noises by calling out or clapping their hands at frequent intervals, especially near streams, and at blind spots on trails. These actions help avoid surprise bear encounters. Do not approach any wildlife; instead, use binoculars, telescopes, or telephoto lenses to get a closer look. Visitors should maintain a minimum distance of 100 yards from any bear within the park. 

While carrying firearms within national parks and wildlife refuges is permitted as consistent with state laws, 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. Wounding a bear, even with a large caliber firearm, can put you and others in far greater danger.

Anyone participating in recreational activities in bear country is highly encouraged to have bear spray. The bear spray should be readily accessible, and hikers should know how to use it.

Visitors should store food, garbage and other attractants in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes when not in use. Garbage must be deposited into a bear-resistant trash can or dumpster. These actions help keep bears from becoming conditioned to human food, and help keep park visitors and their personal property safe.

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.

In addition to bear safety precautions, hikers in Glacier National Park should review other safety measures to take when exploring park trails. To help plan day hiking trips in the park, Glacier offers a Day Trip Plan to help visitors prepare for their hike. Before departure, it is vital to tell someone where in the park you are going, and how long you expect to be gone. Visitors should carry the ten essentials, including a map of the area, a compass, a flashlight, extra food, extra clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen, a pocketknife, matches in a waterproof container, a candle or other fire starter, and a first aid kit. Visitors should also carry bear spray and be prepared for suddenly changing weather events.

For more information about how to safely explore Glacier National Park, visit 

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