WEST GLACIER, MT. – The Avalanche Creek Trail is temporarily closed from the trailhead to the head of the lake for bear frequenting. The closure does not include the Trail of the Cedars.
Over the past week, the park has received reports of up to six different grizzly bears in the Avalanche area, coming close to people. The bears are exhibiting some signs of habituation, meaning they appear more comfortable than is natural around humans.
On Saturday, the park rangers received a credible report of a group of people nearly completely surrounding a grizzly bear along Avalanche Lake, causing the bear to swim out into the lake to create distance between itself and the crowd.
The temporary closure will likely last several days, and will give park managers the opportunity to assess bear behavior and movement, allow the bears to move to more remote areas, and identify any needed additional actions. The closure is in accordance with the park’s Bear Management Plan.
“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 visitors should 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.
Proper use of bear spray has proven to be the best method for fending off threatening, and attacking bears, and for preventing injury to the person, and animal involved. Anyone participating in recreational activities in bear country is highly encouraged to have bear spray. The bear spray should be readily accessible, and hikers should 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 trash can 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.
For further updates on the Avalanche Lake Trail, and other trails within the park, please visit: