Rangers in Glacier National Park euthanized a food-conditioned black bear near Lake McDonald Lodge on Monday after it broke into a cabin housing employees of the park’s concessionaire.
The bear matched descriptions and photographs of a bear that had been seen in the area since Memorial Day weekend. Among the sightings:
On Friday, May 24, a black bear wandered into the horse corral across the road from Lake McDonald Lodge and ate unsecured horse feed. It returned to the corral that night and the following morning in search of more food, and showed little fear of humans or horses.
On Sunday, May 26, a private landowner in the same area reported that a bear had pushed in porch screens and caused other property damage at a residence. Another nearby resident reported a black bear looking into cabin windows. The Lake McDonald area has a number of inholdings, where families have private cabins.
Park officials said rangers spent many hours over the past week in the Lake McDonald Lodge area, attempting to deter the bear with aversive conditioning techniques. Rangers made contact with the bear multiple times, the park reported, hoping to encourage it to move into wild areas and seek natural food sources.
All efforts failed. The male bear was fully conditioned to human food, so was euthanized in keeping with Glacier Park’s bear management plan.
Park biologists estimated the bear was 9 years old. It weighed about 150 pounds, and was healthy.
In announcing the bear’s removal, park officials said that “food-conditioned bears are those that have sought and obtained non-natural foods, destroyed property or displayed aggressive, non-defensive behavior towards humans and are removed from the wild. Food-conditioned bears are not relocated due to human safety concerns.”
“Black bears are not good candidates for animal capture facilities such as zoos and animal parks due to the plentiful nature of the species throughout the United States,” the park’s announcement continued.
“Visitors are reminded to keep campgrounds and developed areas clean and free of food and trash. Local residents and businesses located in and around the park are reminded to secure all types of non-natural food sources including garbage, livestock, feed, pet food, bird seed, and hummingbird feeders.
“If you see a bear along the road, please do not stop. Stopping and watching roadside bears will likely start a ‘bear jam’ as other motorists follow your lead. “Bear jams” are hazardous to both people and bears as visibility is reduced and bears may feel threatened by the congestion. Report all bear sightings to the nearest ranger.”
Glacier National Park is home to both black and grizzly bears. Hikers are highly encouraged to hike in groups, make noise when hiking, and have bear spray accessible and know how to use it.
For more information about recreating in bear country, see http://www.nps.gov/glac/naturescience/bears.htm.