GREAT FALLS — Glacier National Park said in a news release on Thursday that wildlife officials euthanized a black bear in the Many Glacier area after it obtained human foods and exhibited behavior that put human safety at risk.
Many Glacier Campground recently restricted campers to hard-sided vehicles due to the presence of the bear; the campground has now been re-opened to all camper types again, including tents.
On Saturday, August 28, the bear was reported moving through the Many Glacier Campground and was not responsive to attempts to move it out of campsites.
On Sunday, August 29, the bear returned and was seen snatching apples out of an open car trunk while visitors were nearby packing their vehicle. The bear then proceeded to eat the apples at the campsite, showing little fear of humans.
While park staff tried to verbally haze the bear out of the campground, the bear tried to stop at another campsite where people were preparing breakfast, and after being hazed out into the woods, returned half an hour later.
Based on photographs and visitor reports, Glacier National Park officials believe this could be the same bear that was approaching people and exhibiting unusual behavior near Grinnell Lake last week, resulting in the closure of the Grinnell Lake trail on August 25th. DNA samples collected from both sites will be tested and compared to determine if the same animal was involved in both incidents.
On Wednesday, September 1, the adult female bear was trapped in a culvert trap near the Many Glacier housing area.
In accordance with Glacier National Park’s bear management plan, and after consulting with park wildlife biologists, the bear was euthanized. The bear was estimated to be around four years old and approximately 120 pounds. A field necropsy revealed it to be in otherwise healthy condition.
Food-conditioned bears are those that search for and obtain non-natural foods, destroyed property, or displayed aggressive, non-defensive behavior toward humans and are removed from the wild. Given this bear’s behavior and successful acquisition of human foods the decision was made to remove the animal from the park. Once a bear has become food-conditioned, hazing and aversive conditioning are unlikely to be successful in reversing this type of behavior. Food-conditioned bears are not relocated due to human safety concerns.
Black bears are not good candidates for animal capture facilities such as zoos and animal parks due to the plentiful nature of the species throughout the United States.
Visitors are reminded to keep campgrounds and developed areas clean and free of food and trash. Local residents and businesses located in and around the park are reminded to secure all types of non-natural food sources including garbage, livestock feed, pet food, bird seed, and hummingbird feeders.
If you see a bear along the road, please do not stop. Stopping and watching roadside bears will likely start a "bear jam" as other motorists follow your lead. "Bear jams" are hazardous to both people and bears as they limit visibility, restrict the movement of the bear, and have the potential to increase the likelihood of the bear approaching cars and people in the future. Report all bear sightings to the nearest ranger.