Glacier Park in Montana is one of the nation’s most popular and beloved national parks because of its serene beauty and abundant wildlife. That wildlife has gotten a little too close to some of the park’s visitors recently, however, and one incident may have demonstrated that the problem is one that the state may want to address more formally.
Park rangers at Glacier were forced to kill a black bear recently that had developed a habit of raiding the park’s picnic areas while visitors were gathered there.
The incident that prompted rangers to kill the bear in order to protect visitors came when the bear reportedly approached a family that was relaxing and enjoying their lunch at the Two Medicine picnic area. The bear charged at them as they sat at one of the area’s picnic tables after they made attempts to frighten it away by yelling and clapping at it. The family eventually determined that they would not be able to scare away the animal and retreated to their vehicle while the bear proceeded to eat their food.
A park ranger came on the scene and hazed the bear with beanbags and rubber bullets for several minutes before it finally left the area.
The same bear has been seen several times in the park digging in fire pits and harassing park visitors before stealing their food. It has also been spotted along many of the trails at Two Medicine Lake.
It was determined by game wardens that the bear had become conditioned to human food and had developed a level of aggression toward humans that made him a danger to the park’s visitors. As a result they felt they had no choice but to put the bear down.
Food conditioned bears cannot be sent to other locations. Because of the inherent safety risks they pose, in virtually all cases park rangers are required to kill them.