Glacier, Yellowstone announce plans to collar grizzlies

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A grizly bear in a berry patch in the Great Bear Wilderness in this file photo.

Glacier National Park estimates there are about 300 grizzly bears in the park, which is part of the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, and park officials announced Wednesday the launch of efforts to capture and mark a sample of grizzlies in the park as part of an interagency campaign to monitor the bears in the larger ecosystem.

The park’s goal is to maintain a sample of up to 10 radio-marked female grizzly bears for the monitoring effort.

“This year, some bears may receive a collar for the first time,” the park said in a news release. “Others may have a collar replaced if it is near the end of its useful lifespan.”

Trapping efforts will continue through October at various locations throughout the park.

Brightly colored warning signs identify bait stations and trap sites. Visitors are required to heed these signs and not enter closed areas, the park said.

In 2010, a man was killed by a grizzly bear 7 miles east of Yellowstone National Park after wandering into a capture site.

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

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, the park service said, to help avoid surprise encounters with bears.

The park noted, “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.”

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, the park said. “Wounding a bear, even with a large caliber firearm, can put you and others in far greater danger.”

Bear spray should be readily accessible, and hikers should know how to use it, the park said.

On Monday, Yellowstone National Park announced plans to bait and trap grizzly bears at several remote sites in the park to monitor the population of the bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

A news release reported that biologists with the National Park Service and Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team will conduct grizzly research operations in Yellowstone from May 13 through July 31.

“Once trapped, the bears are anesthetized to allow wildlife biologists to radio-collar and collect scientific samples for study,” the Yellowstone news release said. “All trapping and handling are done in accordance with strict protocols developed by the IGBST.”

The Yellowstone news release said none of the trap sites in the park will be located near established hiking trails or backcountry campsites, and all trap sites will have posted warnings for the closure perimeter. Potential access points will also be posted with warning signs for the closure area. Backcountry users who come upon any of these posted areas need to heed the warnings and stay out of the area, the park said.

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