Service Animals

A picture of a sign in a forest that says pets prohibited.
Know the difference between a pet and a service animal before visiting the park.

The 2010 revision to Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a “service animal” as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.

The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. A dog that is in training to become a service animal is not considered a service animal.

Comfort or emotional support animals do not qualify as service animals. The key difference between a service animal and a comfort animal is that a service animal is trained to do work or perform tasks, whereas a comfort or emotional support animal is not.

Service animals in training, comfort animals, and pets are subject to the park’s pet regulations and are not allowed on trails or boardwalks.

People with service animals visiting frontcountry attractions (i.e. Trail of the Cedars, boardwalk section of Hidden Lake Trail, etc.) may obtain a safety briefing at most backcountry permit stations. A safety briefing is required before owners take service animals into the backcountry. The briefing allows visitors to receive important information about the potential risks associated with taking a service animal into Glacier’s backcountry, as well as inform visitors about park regulations that pertain to service animals in the backcountry.

The park ranger issuing the briefing will sign and date this form to certify that an informational and safety briefing has been provided. If taking service animals into the backcountry, owners are encouraged to have this form with them to help educate other visitors that may not know of the regulations specific to service animals, if the owner is questioned. In addition to safety tips, this briefing will also serve to confirm that: owners have assured that their service animal is current in standard vaccinations and is free of disease; and, owners will abide by the regulations listed on this form.

Backcountry Permit Office Locations where the required Service Animal Briefing may be obtained:

• Apgar Village (Summer and Winter)

• Many Glacier Ranger Station (Summer)

• St. Mary Visitor Center (Summer)

• Hudson Bay District Office (Winter)

• Two Medicine Ranger Station (Summer)

• Park Headquarters Building (Winter)

Where domestic animals and wildlife overlap there is a possibility of exchanging diseases between the two groups. Domestic dogs can introduce disease into wildlife habitats and the park’s canids (wolves, coyotes, and foxes) are vulnerable to domestic diseases, such as canine distemper, parvo virus, rabies, and mange. Likewise, it is possible for domestic dogs to acquire these diseases from wild animals.

The Service Animal Safety Briefing provides park managers with reasonable assurance that domestic service animals travelling in the backcountry are free of diseases, which could harm wildlife.

Service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices.

Food for the service animal is a bear attractant and must be stored accordingly. Food and food containers must never be left unattended and must be kept out of reach of wildlife.

Service animal fecal matter must be picked up and disposed of properly: in a trash container; pit toilet; if in the backcountry, buried in a “cat hole” at least 6 inches deep and at least 200 feet from water sources, campsites or trails; or, packed out.

Due to increased risk of confrontation between service animals and wildlife (bears, wolves, and other wildlife), service animals are not permitted on closed trails or trails and roads posted for bear or lion frequenting.

Please be aware that having a service animal in the backcountry may put you at increased risk for confrontations with wolves, bears, and other wildlife. There are recorded instances of domestic dogs killed by bears, mountain lions, and coyotes within Glacier and numerous instances of dogs killed by wolves and bears outside of Glacier. Wolves are very territorial and may perceive domestic dogs as competitors and act aggressively toward them putting you and your animal in danger.

If you take a service animal with you into the backcountry, it is required that you keep it harnessed, leashed, or tethered at all times, unless these devices interfere with the animal’s work or your disability prevents using these devices. Your service animal must sleep with you in your tent at night.

In addition, streams and rivers pose a special risk to all animals. Cold and fast moving water can cause hypothermia, drowning, and giardia poisoning if your animal decides to take a drink or go for a swim.

Your safety and the safety of your animal are not guaranteed.


Last updated: June 11, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 128
West Glacier, MT 59936


(406) 888-7800

Contact Us