Rangers in Glacier National Park euthanized a black bear late Monday after it suffered a mortal injury from a rubber projectile intended to shoo it away from the crowded Many Glacier campground and nearby Swiftcurrent Motor Inn.
In a written statement Tuesday, park officials said rangers were called to the campground at 4:45 p.m. after hikers returning to their tents reported a black bear wandering around the area.
The campground was full and many hikers were returning to their vehicles in the nearby parking lot. An interpretive spotting scope program also was ongoing nearby.
To encourage the bear to leave the area, rangers attempted to haze the animal by shouting, but it stayed in the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and campground area, the park said.
“After voice hazing was ineffective, a ranger fired one rubber projectile hazing round, which inadvertently pierced the bear’s abdomen,” the park reported. “Rangers and wildlife biologists determined that the bear suffered a mortal injury. After removing people from nearby campsites, rangers fired a second shot from a shotgun to euthanize the bear.”
The park will now conduct an internal investigation to determine if additional training is needed for any of the responders and whether proper procedures were followed.
A number of bears have frequented the Many Glacier and Swiftcurrent areas throughout the summer, and it is believed the bear killed Monday was one of them. On Monday alone, park rangers responded to seven separate bear incidents in the Many Glacier Valley.
Earlier this summer, Many Glacier campground prohibited soft-sided tent camping for a period of time in June because bears were frequenting the area.
“Hazing – which may include yelling, clapping, horns, bean bag rounds, and rubber projectile rounds – is a technique used to push bears out of developed places and into areas where natural behavior and foraging can occur,” the park explained Tuesday. “The park uses hazing as part of its proactive Bear Management Plan to encourage bears to stay away from developed areas where human food rewards are likely to occur.
“Once bears begin to frequent campgrounds, parking lots, and other visitor areas, the likelihood of habituation and food conditioning rises dramatically. Habituated or conditioned bears may seek and obtain non-natural foods, destroy property or display aggressive, non-defensive behavior towards humans.”
To discourage conditioning and habituation, the park hazes dozens of bears each year near or within developed areas. Hazing mortalities remain uncommon, but do occur occasionally. In the last 15 years, the park estimates four bears have died as a result of hazing activities.