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Park Rangers attitudes towards bears in Glacier/Yellowstone

Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2018 9:28 am
by billandkaren
We just returned a couple of weeks ago from our 25th anniversary trip to Glacier (MT), Banff, and Jasper. We had never been to any of these parks and it truly was a trip of a lifetime. We had our first ever meeting of bears on a trail in Glacier, and a subsequent conversation with a park ranger left me scratching my head, particularly as it compares to rangers in Yellowstone.

We were hiking a fairly crowded trail in the Many Glacier area returning to the parking lot when we noticed a couple of people stopped in front of us. Thinking they had spotted the young moose we saw on our way out, we continued on to join them. We then saw why they had stopped. A mother grizzly with two yearling cubs about 40 feet away were walking towards us from a side trail that joins up with the main trail. One of the men yelled, "Hey bear!" while the other held his bear spray ready. Karen pulled hers out and I had my hand on mine. The bears stopped and the mother moved slightly off the trail first to our right then to the left. I suggested backing off the trail to let her pass and started to do so when she decided to leave the trail to go around us. The cubs followed and they proceded to pass us without incident.

This took place about an eighth of a mile from the trailhead and parking lot and like I said, there were a number of people that were still out on the trail. We hurried to a nearby ranger station to report the incident. There were at least three rangers there and one young lady asked us what we wanted. We relayed the incident thinking they would send someone out on the trail immediately to make sure no one got hurt. Instead the conversation went like this.

"Are you sure they were grizzlies?"
"Yes, they were definitely grizzlies."
"Did you get pictures?"
"Yes, My wife snapped a couple quick pictures."
"Oh, good. Let me get you a website address of a researcher who wants to identify as many bears as he can."
"Maam, I don't thing you understand me. These bears were on the trail. There are people walking out there in sandals and flip flops with little kids. Most of these people are not carrying bear spray. I think a ranger needs to go out there who knows what they are doing so someone doesn't get hurt."
"Well, I was out on that trail yesterday and I saw three different bears. There are a lot of bears in this area."
"Maybe that's ok for you. you know how to handle yourself, but believe me, there are people out there who are not trail savvy and will not know what to do if they confront a mother bear with two cubs."
"Well, yes, I appreciate your concern, but let me get you this email address and please make sure you send him your pictures."

We left just shaking our heads. We did see a different ranger hop into his truck as we were leaving so we assume he did go out to the trail.

We stopped in Yellowstone on our way back and we contrast the Glacier experience with rangers who send people back into their cars if a grizzly who is digging up roots gets within 50 yards.

Is that typical for Glacier or did we just hit a weird ranger who wants to get pictures to help out her boyfriend???

Re: Park Rangers attitudes towards bears in Glacier/Yellowstone

Posted: Mon Jul 23, 2018 7:09 am
by dbl4de3
You probably got a summer intern that really did not want to be there, much less help.

Re: Park Rangers attitudes towards bears in Glacier/Yellowstone

Posted: Mon Jul 23, 2018 10:47 pm
by billandkaren
dbl4de3 wrote:
Mon Jul 23, 2018 7:09 am
You probably got a summer intern that really did not want to be there, much less help.
That sounds like a possibility. And maybe I shouldn't have worried about it. I think the rangers in Yellowstone and Teton are a bit over-the-top sometimes. I just wondered if the rangers in Glacier were less concerned overall because of the number of grizzlies they deal with.