Bear bite, food reward for bears prompt trail closure
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: June 19, 2021

Bozeman, MT, June 19, 2021 – Two recent incidents occurred on the Bozeman Ranger District, Custer Gallatin National Forest and are prompting a critical reminder for all recreationists to store any and all food attractants properly and to always put your campfire out.

“The first incident occurred a couple of hours after dawn with a reported bear bite at Mystic Lake, up Sourdough Trail (approximately 10 miles), also found with an abandoned warm campfire this afternoon, the second incident occurred early Thursday a.m. with a bear receiving a food reward at Battle Ridge Campground in the Bridger Range,” said Wendi Urie, Recreation Program Manager, Bozeman Ranger District.  “Forest Service personnel and FWP game wardens investigated the incidents, with improperly stored food attractants playing a contributing role in both incidents.”

The bite victim was treated for injuries that were not life threatening. Law enforcement officers did not see a bear during the investigation.

A temporary emergency closure is issued for the Sourdough Trail overnight and will be re-evaluated Sunday.  Sourdough Trail runs approximately 10 miles to Mystic Lake and serves as a connector trail to many additional trails across the Gallatin Front.  The closure overnight includes Sourdough Trailhead, Moser Cutoff Trail, South Fork Bozeman Creek, New World Gulch and the single track known as Wall of Death at the 5-mile point on Sourdough.

The Custer Gallatin National Forest works closely with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks in bear incidents to determine the animal’s species and behavior, investigate the incident, and determine management actions, if any.

Bears are part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and the Custer Gallatin National Forest plays a critical footprint as part of that ecosystem.  Bears are active and present across most of the Custer Gallatin National Forest including the Gallatin Front, Gallatin and Madison Ranges, the Absaroka-Beartooth ranges, the Crazy Mountains, the Bridger, Bangtails and some activity on the eastern districts.  It is always important to be bear aware, which means:

  • carrying bear spray and have it readily accessible,
  • always properly storing all food and attractants in bear-safe (approved) canisters,
  • hiking or traveling during the daylight hours, and traveling in groups,
  • making lots of noise and staying alert for signs of bears in the area.

Food storage orders are in effect annually from March 1 – December 1 across much of the Custer Gallatin, details online under spotlights:  www.fs.usda.gov/custergallatin.