West Yellowstone, MT – Forest Service and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park officials are warning visitors of an injured bear near Eldridge Creek up the Taylor’s Fork drainage. Officials are asking visitors to the area to be very cautious when in the general vicinity. Taylor’s Fork is located in the Gallatin Canyon between Big Sky and West Yellowstone, Montana.
The bear was injured on September 14th through an encounter with two hunters at the head of Eldridge Creek. The encounter happened just east of the bentonite sluff “blow out” that drains into Lightning Creek, roughly 1.25 miles east of Lightning Trailhead.
The hunters heard the bear charging them. One individual fired a several handgun rounds in the direction of the bear that got within a few feet of him before turning away. Forest Service and Montana FWP law enforcement officials have investigated the site and found several drops of blood however, the wounded bear has not been located.
The Forest Service has posted warning signs at Eldridge, Wapiti and Lightning Creek trail access points and will continue working with Montana FWP to search for the bear and monitor the situation. There are no closures in place at this time.
Some general safety tips when visiting bear country to keep in mind are:
- Follow the Custer Gallatin Food Storage Order and appropriately store all attractants.
- Carry bear spray, know how to use it and have it readily available.
- Avoid hiking or hunting alone if possible and never let your small children run ahead or wander.
- Make noise by talking, clapping and singing to avoid startling a bear.
- Stick to the trail to minimize potential bear encounters.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Use caution and make plenty of noise and avoid bear food sources. If you smell something dead or see birds circling overhead avoid the area.
- Hike during the daylight hours. Bears are most active during early morning and late afternoon hours.
- Anyone moving quickly (i.e. mountain bikers, trail runners) is at a higher risk of surprising a bear.
- Watch for bear signs – tracks, scat and markings on trees are all good indicators.
- If you encounter a bear, never run away.
For additional information please contact the Hebgen Lake Ranger District at 406-823-6961 or visit the Custer Gallatin National Forest or Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks online.