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 yet 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.

Visitors with service animals may obtain a safety briefing at most wilderness permit stations. The briefing includes important information about the potential risks associated with taking a service animal onto the trails in Glacier.

The ranger issuing the briefing will sign and date a form to certify that it has been provided. Owners are encouraged to have this form with them to help educate other visitors who may not know of the regulations specific to service animals. Owners must abide by the regulations listed on this form.

Wilderness Permit Office Locations that Provide Service Animal Briefings:

  • Apgar Village (Summer)
  • 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. The park’s canids (wolves, coyotes, and foxes) are vulnerable to domestic diseases such as parvo virus, canine distemper, rabies, and mange. Likewise, it’s 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 that 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. Service animals at camp sites must sleep inside the owner’s tent at night.
  • Food for a 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. If you are in the backcountry, this should be packed out or disposed of in the same way as human fecal matter: burying it in a “cat hole” at least 6 inches (15 cm) deep and at least 200 feet (61 m) from water sources, campsites, or trails.

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

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.


Last updated: November 2, 2023

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PO Box 128
West Glacier, MT 59936



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