Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hiker-Bear Incident Investigation Continues

Glacier National Park officials announced yesterday that an investigation regarding a hiker-bear incident that happened on Saturday, July 26th, is ongoing. The Mt. Brown Lookout Trail remains closed at this time. Park personnel are monitoring the area for a bear that is believed to be injured as a result of the incident. Park visitors are encouraged to report any sighting of an injured bear to a nearby park ranger or visitor center. Routinely, park visitors are encouraged to notify a park ranger of any bear sightings within the park.

At approximately 9:30 a.m. Saturday, July 26, park dispatch received notification from a park volunteer backcountry ranger of a hiker-bear incident on the Mt. Brown Lookout Trail, on the west side of the park. An initial investigation indicates that a 57-year old hiker from Texas was hiking alone on the Mt. Brown Lookout Trail when a bear charged him from an area below the trail. The hiker deployed his canister of bear spray and then discharged one round of his handgun. It is believed the bear was wounded, and ran away. The hiker then turned around and quickly hiked back to the trailhead, warning other hikers on the trail of the incident. The hiker met a park volunteer backcountry ranger on the trail, and the ranger notified park dispatch of the situation. The hiker received no physical injuries.

Park rangers immediately closed the trail and initiated an investigation. They staffed the trailhead to communicate the situation to other park visitors and began a search for the bear. Park rangers and bear specialists hiked-in, while others were transported via helicopter to the summit of Mt. Brown to investigate and search for the bear. At this time it's unknown if the bear was a grizzly or black bear, but evidence indicates the bear was wounded.

Glacier National Park is home to both grizzly and black bears. Hikers are encouraged to hike in groups, stay on designated trails, carry bear spray that is easily accessible, and make noise at regular intervals along the trail. Bears spend a lot of time eating, so hikers should be extra alert while in or near feeding areas such as berry patches, cow parsnip thickets, or fields of glacier lilies. Hiking early in the morning, late in the day, or after dark is not encouraged. Trail running is not recommended as it has led to surprise bear encounters.

Visitors are allowed to carry a firearm in Glacier National Park. Federal law, as of 2010, allows the carrying of firearms within national parks and wildlife refuges consistent with state law. Although visitors are allowed to carry firearms, it's illegal to discharge a firearm in the park.

Park visitors are encouraged to carry bear spray, and know how to properly use it as a deterrent for a charging grizzly bear. No single deterrent is 100% effective, but compared to all others, including firearms, 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. For more information about recreating in the park, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

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