Bear scare prompts camping restriction

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  • A grizzly bear stands on a picnic table in the Many Glacier Campground in Glacier National Park on Friday, June 29. (NPS photo)

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    A grizzly bear looks around the corner of the Gunsight Pass Trail.

  • A grizzly bear stands on a picnic table in the Many Glacier Campground in Glacier National Park on Friday, June 29. (NPS photo)

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    A grizzly bear looks around the corner of the Gunsight Pass Trail.

The Many Glacier Campground on the east side of Glacier National Park is temporarily limited to hard-sided camping after a grizzly bear entered the area.

This means that tents and soft-sided campers will not be permitted until further notice, the park said in a press release Saturday morning. Camper vehicles such as VW buses and pickup trucks with small canvas pop-ups are allowed as long as the canvas is not exposed.

According to the park, Friday at 10:30 a.m., a small grizzly bear weighing approximately 150 pounds, entered the Many Glacier Campground. It crossed a stream, entered a campsite and compelled two campers to move away from a picnic table where they were cleaning two recently caught brook trout. One of the campers sprayed the bear with bear spray from a distance of 15 feet. The spray was unsuccessful in deterring the bearís approach, and it proceeded to climb on top of the picnic table and consume the fish. It also sniffed, pawed, and bit two nearby backpacks.

Park rangers responded and used hazing techniques to encourage the bear to move out of the campground. Prior to its departure, it dug into two fire pits, sniffed picnic tables, a tent, and an RV with visitors inside.

The park is attempting to trap the grizzly bear for further management action.

The bear exhibits numerous signs of food-conditioning and meets the definition of a conditioned bear in Glacier National Parkís Bear Management Guidelines. A non-conditioned bear would typically not enter a campsite with people present and resist human attempts to scare it away, the park stated. Conditioned bears are usually removed from the population by being placed in zoos or euthanized.

According to the park, bears have successfully obtained unnatural food from people or become accustomed to foraging in developed areas, it is very difficult to change their behavior to return to wild areas and natural food sources. Once they have received a human food reward, they often become a safety hazard as they become increasingly aggressive seeking out and obtaining subsequent food rewards.

In 1976, a conditioned grizzly bear dragged a camper from her tent in the Many Glacier Campground and killed her.

Glacier National Park has a proactive bear management program that seeks to prevent conditioning through public education, bear-wise waste management, aggressive enforcement of food storage regulations, and application of hazing and aversive conditioning techniques to teach bears to avoid humans and developed areas.

Visitors and residents are urged to learn more about the importance of food storage while living and recreating in bear country for bear and human safety.

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