WEST GLACIER – Glacier National Park participates in an interagency effort to monitor grizzly bear population trends in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem on a yearly basis.
Experts use bait stations, automated cameras, and traps to capture and mark the animals in order to monitor population trends.
Officials note that there are an estimated 300 grizzly bears that live in Glacier National Park. The park’s goal is to maintain a sample of up to 10 radio-marked female grizzly bears for this monitoring effort.
Glacier National Park spokeswoman Lauren Alley notes 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 and visitors are required to heed these signs and not enter closed areas.
“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. Alley notes visitors should maintain a minimum distance of 100 yards from any bear within the park.
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 trashcan or dumpster.
Alley notes that 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.