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Bears pose threat for crews battling Glacier NP wildfires

Posted at 8:07 PM, Sep 09, 2018

GLACIER NATIONAL PARK – Crews working the fires in Glacier National Park say that bears have become a safety issue in camp and along the fire line as the animals search out food and prepare to hibernate.

“There has been a lot of bears spotted out here, quite a few black bears, quite a few grizzlies,” said Justin Kaber with the Northern Rockies Incident Management Team. “The crews have been reporting pretty much every day.”

“When it comes to a bear attack bear spray is your best defense but in a real-life situation, wildlife officials say one of the most common mistakes someone can make is not knowing how to use it.

Kaber says Park officials briefed crews how to use bear spray last week.

“Our instructions to all of our firefighters is you do not have any food that you take to the camp…don’t ever leave any food in your tent,” Fire Information Officer Mike Cole said. “You always bring all of your food, apple cores all the leftovers from your lunch back.”

“Along with keeping attractants like garbage and food away, firefighters must also keep anything a bear could smell away.

“Don’t have anything like toiletries that might have an odor to them. An under armor deodorant, lip balm — anything like that,” Kaber said. “You don’t have anything in your tent you just have your sleeping bag and your clothes and that’s it.”

Residents and recreationists are also being urged to remove and secure food attractants to prevent conflicts as bears prepare to den for the winter.

-Nicole Miller reporting for MTN News