Glacier is home to many large mammals including elk, moose, deer, bears, wolves, mountain lions, lynx, wolverines, bighorn sheep and mountain goats to name a few. Drivers need to always be alert in the park as vehicle encounters with wildlife can be fatal or cause serious injury to both the animal and people. Every year thousands of animals die on national park roads throughout the U.S. Drivers are reminded to obey all park speed limits, and adjust for conditions such as rain and darkness.
Park managers recommend that hikers always carry bear spray while in bear country. Park Superintendent Chas Cartwright noted, “Be knowledgeable about how to use bear spray and have it readily accessible and not stowed away in a pack.” Bear spray is meant to be used in the case of imminent attacks only and is not intended to be used as a repellent. It should never be sprayed on gear (hiking and/or camping equipment) or around campsites. “Under no circumstances should bear spray create a false sense of security or serve as a substitute for standard safety precautions in bear country,” Cartwright added.
Park hikers, backpackers and campers are all urged to familiarize themselves with standard safety precautions and to follow them when in bear country. These precautions include:
· Never travel alone or after dark
· Make (loud) reoccurring noise when in bear country (especially near streams, brushy areas, hilltops and blind curves)
· Keep children close by and within sight
· Always be aware of local surroundings
· Keep observant and alert for evidence of bears and mountain lions and/or their activity
· Do not approach any wildlife; use binoculars, telescopes, or telephoto lenses to get closer looks
· Trail running is not recommended as it can lead to surprising bears at close range
Visitors are also reminded to keep food and other attractants stored in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes and never leave food unattended in campgrounds or picnic areas. Garbage must be deposited into a bear-resistant trash can or dumpster. These actions help keep bears from becoming conditioned to human food, and help keep park visitors and their personal property safe.
Cartwright notes that Glacier National Park can be filled with many potential dangers. “We want everyone to have a safe experience while they visit and enjoy the park.” Go to the park’s web page for details about: Bears, Mountain Lions, Wildlife, Water and Watch Your Step at http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/yoursafety.htm.
Visitors should report any bear or mountain lion sightings or signs of bear or mountain lion activity to the nearest visitor center or ranger station or by calling 406-888-7800 as soon as possible. This information helps park rangers keep animals away from unnatural food sources as well as helps prevent wildlife from becoming habituated to humans.
For further information on Glacier National Park, visit the park’s web site at www.nps.gov/glac or call 406-888-7800.
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