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Contact: Melissa Wilson, 406 888-7895
WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Glacier National Park officials report that Morning Star and Oldman Campgrounds will be kept closed through at least mid-August due to bear management activities. Hiking trails in the area, however, will remain open. These decisions may be re-evaluated based upon the outcome of the management actions, or due to range or behavior changes in the targeted bear.
Park bear management rangers are continuing with the monitoring and aversive conditioning, begun last summer, of a female grizzly that has frequented these campgrounds. Officials stress that though she appears comfortable in the presence of humans, the grizzly has never displayed aggressive behavior. The grizzly will receive aversive conditioning August 5-16 from park rangers and staff from the Wind River Bear Institute (WRBI). The two-week treatment program is being paid for by a grant from The Glacier Fund.
Aversive conditioning is the application of negative reinforcement aimed at behavior modification. Rangers and WRBI staff will use noise, Karelian Bear Dogs, and other non-lethal stimuli to encourage the grizzly to keep away from humans and the campgrounds.
Officials hope that through a continued aversive conditioning effort, this individual bear will be able to remain in the ecosystem. Extensive conditioning efforts such as this have not been attempted previously in Glacier’s backcountry. The decision to continue the effort this season is due to the fact that the trails in that area were not reopened until late September, and as a result, last year’s effort proved inconclusive.
While park officials encourage any visitor who sees a bear to report the sighting, officials are especially interested in having sightings from this area reported. Such reports will provide valuable insight into this bear’s behavior. Sightings can be reported at visitor centers, ranger stations, or park headquarters.
These management actions are being carried out in accordance with Glacier’s Bear Management Plan and Bear Management Guidelines. Superintendent Mick Holm authorized the use of dogs in Glacier’s backcountry.
The Bear Management Plan and Guidelines incorporate comments from consultations with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. Glacier’s program is recognized internationally, and bear management rangers regularly assist in the creation of similar plans at other parks, both domestically and internationally.
For more information about Glacier National Park, call 406-888-7800 or visit the park’s Web site at www.nps.gov/glac.