Regina Louisa got a full-on Montana moment while hiking in Glacier National Park near the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail when a young grizzly came bounding out of the trees and down the trail.
Luckily for everyone on the trail, the grizzly was in hot pursuit of some mountain goats, who seemed to be far quicker than the bear.
Hikers on the trail can be heard blowing whistles and shouting to raise the alert about the hundreds of pounds of muscle, claw and teeth rumbling toward them.
The bear only glances at the shouting humans once, and looks mildly curious as he continues his pursuit of the more appetizing mountain goats.
"Bear Friendly" means allowing every bear to retain its wild and free nature. According to the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, here's how to stay safe in bear country:
- Inquire about recent bear activity in the area.
- Carry and know how to use bear spray for emergencies.
- Let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
- Travel in groups of three or more people whenever possible and plan to be out in the daylight hours.
- Stay on trails or rural roads.
- Watch for signs of bears such as bear scat, diggings, torn-up logs and turned over rocks, and partly consumed animal carcasses.
- Keep children close.
- Make your presence known by talking, singing, carrying a bell, or other means, especially when near streams or in thick forest where visibility is low. This can be the key to avoiding encounters. Most bears will avoid humans when they know humans are present.
- Use caution in areas like berry patches where bears occur.
- Don't approach a bear; respect their space and move off.
- Do not put out salt licks, grain, or deer blocks to attract wild animals as these create areas of concentrated animal scent that will then draw in bears and mountain lions.
- Use native plant landscaping whenever possible. Be aware that a watered lawn with lush grass, clover, and dandelions is an attractive feeding site for bears.
- Close all windows when not at home or when cooking.
- Talk to your children about bears and how to avoid them.
- Give a bear that is in your home an escape route by propping all doors open with something heavy that will act as a doorstop.
- Never approach a bear in your yard, always give bears an escape route and never crowd or harass a bear.
Being bear-friendly in Montana is a commitment. It may mean sacrificing the opportunity to see a bear or take pictures of it—for the welfare of the bear. It means taking steps to prevent bears from finding sources of food on your property or when you are out camping.
Once a bear is food-trained, it is often impossible to un-train them. That is why biologists so often say a fed bear is a dead bear.
Don't Feed Bears!
It is unlawful to intentionally, or to inadvertently feed bears. Those who do will be warned and possibly cited under this important Montana Law.
If You Care, Leave Them There
Sometimes people find young bears and other species and think they are abandoned or orphaned. This is often not true. If you care, leave them there.
Your vigilance in keeping your residence and outdoor camps "Bear Friendly" can make all the difference in helping keep Montana's grizzly and black bears wild and free.
"Bear Friendly" means allowing every bear to retain its wild and free nature.