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Wildlife Safety in Western Montana + Glacier National Park

glacier national park

Wildlife and Bear Safety Stay Safe in Bear Country

Stay Safe in Bear Country

Bears are unpredictable, wild animals. And familiarizing yourself with their behavior can reduce your chances of an unpleasant encounter. Make sure you stop at a visitor center or ranger station to get up-to-date information on bear and/or mountain lion activity in the area you’re exploring, and to find out what trails or campgrounds may be closed. Report all sightings of bears or animal carcasses to park staff. Please remember to view bears at a distance.

Don't hike alone.

Consider a ranger-guided hike if you’re not hiking with companions. Leave your pets at home; dogs and bears are natural enemies.

Make loud noises.

Bears don't like surprises and will usually move out of the way if they hear people coming. A loud shout combined with sharp clapping is effective. Shout more frequently around a noisy stream, on a blind curve, on a windy day or when near heavy brush (vegetation).

Hike during "business" hours.

Bears tend to be more active at dawn and dusk.

Never enter a closed trail.

It is closed for a reason, usually recent bear sightings.

Observe bears only from a distance.

Never approach bears for a better look or a photograph. Consider carrying bear spray. Some backcountry hikers carry bear spray as a possible nonlethal, nontoxic deterrent against aggressive bears. Note: there are accounts where bear spray has not worked as well as expected. If you decide to carry bear spray, use it wisely and only in situations where aggressive wildlife behavior justifies its use. Check visitor centers for bear spray regulations.

Always leave a clean camp.

Store odorous items such as food, coolers, utensils and toiletries in a hard-sided vehicle or food locker. Toss garbage in bear-proof garbage cans, not in your fire grate. Dump water used to rinse dishes and hands in a rest room utility sink, not on the ground. These are park regulations, not simply recommendations!

In the backcountry, never leave any odorous items unattended.

Every backcountry campsite has a special cable or pole from which you can hang food and garbage. Cook and eat only in the designated food-preparation area, and hang the clothes you cooked in if they might have absorbed food odors. Camp only in the designated sites, which are situated well away from the food-hanging and cooking areas. Be sure to pack out all garbage.

If you spot a bear...

All bears are dangerous. Never approach or feed any bear, even a seemingly "tame" one. Bears will fiercely defend cubs and food. If you encounter a bear at close range, stay calm and slowly leave the area by backing away. Don't run or scream; this may provoke a chase. Climbing a tree is not always an option because there may be a lack of time and trees, and bears can climb! Bear attacks are exceptionally rare. When they do occur, it's usually because the bear perceives a person as a threat. If an attack should occur, act submissive and protect yourself by rolling up on the ground with your fingers interlocked behind your neck and your knees pulled to your chest. Leaving your pack on may provide extra protection for your back and neck. When the bear no longer feels threatened, it will usually leave the area. Do not move or make noise until you are sure the bear is gone.

Hit Refresh in Yellowstone Country

Imagine a view so good you’ll forget to share it. Press pause on all the noise—explore Yellowstone Country Montana.

Recreate Responsibly Plan Ahead, Play it Safe, and Leave No Trace.
News from Glacier National Park Currently, 11.5 miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road are open for travel.

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