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Contact: Dave Dahlen, 406-888-7930
WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Glacier National Park officials and officials from the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks report that findings from a study of the male grizzly bear that was found dead near a snare after its release on May 29 indicate that the exact cause of death may never be known. However, the mortality will be classified as capture-related. Capture mortalities are classified as those that are either caused by adverse reactions to the drug used, or those that are caused by other circumstances surrounding the immobilization of the animal. “The specific cause of death could not be determined in this case,” stated Rick Mace, Research Biologist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. However, Mace added that there is no evidence that the bear experienced an adverse reaction to the immobilizing drugs.
It appears the death was a result of several extenuating circumstances acting in concert. A preliminary report from the necropsy revealed a high likelihood of cardiac arrest. The bear had high levels of blood in the lungs (pulmonary edema), was of advanced age, had an infected neck as a result of an older puncture wound, and had foot/toe trauma as a result of the capture episode. The injury to the foot was not considered in itself to be life-threatening.
In rare cases, mortalities occur in trapping grizzly bears and other wildlife species. These instances are unfortunate, but the information gained through trapping is considered vital to management of the grizzly bear population as a whole. Officials have amended the capture protocol in Glacier National Park as a result of this incident. Specific changes are that all current trapping in the park will utilize culvert traps instead of snares; culvert traps will be fitted with a transmitter so that activity can be monitored remotely; and the culvert traps will be checked at least twice daily. These actions will be implemented immediately to reduce the chance of mortalities in the future.
For further information on Glacier National Park, its science and research activities, visit the park’s Web site at www.nps.gov/glac or call 406-888-7800.