Be Aware of Emerging Bears
WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Glacier National Park Superintendent Mick Holm
reminds park visitors that bears are beginning to emerge from hibernation
and visitors therefore need to be alert for bear activity and obey safety
regulations while visiting the park.
Holm said, “Glacier National Park is home to both grizzly and black bears
and visitors must act accordingly when they visit. Take precautions to
avoid a bear encounter. Make your presence known by calling out or clapping
at frequent intervals, especially near streams and at blind spots on the
trails. Additionally, maintain a safe distance from bears and other
While neither bears nor tracks have yet been reported this spring,
mid-March is when male bears begin to emerge from hibernation. Once they
emerge, bears roam widely in search of food, and will aggressively protect
their food source. Females, which tend to emerge slightly later, will also
fiercely defend their cubs. All visitors should be aware for any evidence
of bear activity.
Holm added, “Park visitors must store food and other odorous items inside
hard-sided vehicles or in food lockers and dispose of garbage in a
bear-resistant trash can or dumpster. Proper food storage is essential to
preventing bears from becoming habituated to human food.”
“Though bear encounters are extremely rare in Glacier, visitors can
consider carrying bear pepper spray to be used in the event that a bear
charges. However, it is imperative that people do not develop a false sense
of security by carrying it; continue to take the precautions to avoid an
encounter. Further, visitors must be familiar with the can’s operation, and
the spray’s limitations,” Holm said.
According to the manufacturers, bear pepper spray should only be used at
short distances (10-30 feet). Wind, cold, rain and product age may alter
its effectiveness. The canisters have a safety feature, and visitors must
understand how to disengage it. The spray must also be immediately
available; do not store the spray inside a pack.
Holm also noted that bear pepper spray is not a repellent. “Do not apply
bear pepper spray to people, tents, packs or other recreational equipment.
It is only designed to be sprayed at charging or attacking bears at close
Bear pepper spray is clearly labeled for use against bears and must be
registered with the Environmental Protection Agency. Only brands
specifically labeled for use against bears can be transported legally
across the border into Canada. Personal defense sprays not designed for use
on bears may be ineffective.
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. This information helps park rangers keep bears away from
unnatural food sources, as well as prevents bears from becoming habituated
For further information on Glacier National Park, visit the park’s Web site
or call 406-888-7800.