A popular trail in Glacier National Park has been closed due to habituated grizzly bears approaching visitors.
National Park Service officials closed the Avalanche Trail on the west side of the park on Monday after receiving reports of six different grizzly bears approaching people in the last week. On Saturday, a group of people allegedly surrounded a bear near the edge of the lake forcing it to swim into the water to get away.
According to a press release, the trail closure is expected to last a few days and will allow park managers to assess bear activity and movement and allow the animals to move into more remote areas of the park. The closure does not include the nearby Trail of the Cedars.
“It is exciting to see bears here at the park,” said Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow. “One of the best things people can do if they see a bear is to make sure they back up, and create 300 feet of distance. That helps reinforce natural bear behavior, and keeps both people and bears safe.”
Park officials encourage visitors to travel in groups and make loud noises by calling out or clapping their hands at frequent intervals, especially near streams, and at blind spots on trails. These actions help avoid surprise bear encounters. Do not approach any wildlife; instead, use binoculars, telescopes, or telephoto lenses to get a closer look. Visitors should maintain a minimum distance of 100 yards from any bear within the park.
Officials also encourage hikers to keep bear spray with them and know how to use it.
Visitors should store food, garbage and other attractants in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes when not in use. Garbage must be deposited into a bear-resistant trashcan or dumpster. These actions help keep bears from becoming conditioned to human food, and help keep park visitors, and their personal property safe.
Visitors should report any bear sightings or signs of bear activity to the nearest visitor center, ranger station or by calling (406) 888-7800 as soon as possible.