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Bear encounters..

Tallahassee
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151 posts
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Bear encounters..

Just curious as to how often hikers run into bears. We'll be there next summer in July and not that I am worried but a bit concerned on hikes. Since this will be this busiest time of the year, I am sure lots of people will be on the trails but in the event we hike alone, I do hope to see some bears but don't want to wrestle one :)

Charlotte, North...
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1. Re: Bear encounters..

While I cannot give any proof, I would say a fairly high percentage (although probably less than half) of hikers report having seen bears while hiking in Glacier. Obviously, the more you hike, the more likely you are to see a bear while on the trail. I have heard of people who have been to Glacier 3 or 4 times and have never seen a bear, while others see a bear on their first hike.

I have been to Glacier twice. In 2006, we spent 5 days in the park and hiked around 45 miles. We never saw a single bear (black nor grizzly). In 2008, we spent 5 1/2 days in the park and hiked over 80 miles. I only saw a mother and a baby grizzly on a mountainside probably a mile away. My parents had a black bear cross the trail about 100 feet away, however.

I think my experience has been a bit abnormal, though. For having hiked over 120 miles in the park and never see a bear (well, you can't really count two bear a mile away) is fairly unlikely. We did, however, run into several moose, bighorn sheep, deer, and mountain goats while hiking. I would say these are more likely the kinds of wildlife you will see. Still, if you are hiking many miles in good bear territory, your chances are better.

Sean

Spokane, Washington
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for Glacier National Park, Spokane
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2. Re: Bear encounters..

Bears are where they find you...........

I have been coming to the park for 30 years and for the last 15, have done at least one backcountry backpack per year. There are places I know I will find bears (many glacier) but have found bears in some very unexpected places too. I ahve yet to have an encounter that was uncomfortable, but I try to make noicse and respect the fact that the park belongs to the bears first, and I am just a visitor.

Now, if you are going to wrestle one, I advise the double leg take down as your initial move...............

indiana
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for Glacier National Park
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3. Re: Bear encounters..

We were hiking the trail to Bullhead lake last year and had a black bear cross the trail about 30 feet in front of us. We were also there a few years ago when the father and daughter were attacked on the Grinnell Glacier trail. So bear encounters do happen. You should be fine as long as you are alert and aware of your surroundings. Carry bear spray and have it out, not in your pack. Try to hike in groups of four or more. As k2kelley stated, make noise and remember you are the visitor and if you encounter a bear know what to do.

Coeur d Alene, Idaho
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4. Re: Bear encounters..

Was in Park for 8 days last September, went on a Ranger guided hike at Avalanche Lake and as we waiting at the traihead parking lot to start, a Black Bear crossed the highway about 50 yards away. Spent most of the time at Many Glacier which does see more bears in their area. Iceberg Lake trail was closed for several days due to bear activity. After it opened went with a group on a hike to Iceberg Lake and Ptarmigan Tunnel, say lots of bear scat on the Iceberg Lake trail due to outstanding Huckleberry crop and as we returned on the trail to Many Glacier say two Grizzly Bears above trail 300-500 yards. This was in September, more of the off season but still large number of hikers on these two popular trails. Also Ranger guided hikes were still occuring which is a good way to enjoy hiking if you have some worries about bears. As said before make noise (bear bells not loud enough; noise should be things like clapping, shouting, loud talking, singing, yodeling), carry bear spray, and virtually no chance of a problem.

Calgary, Canada
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for Waterton Lakes National Park, Nelson
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5. Re: Bear encounters..

There have been several discussion threads about this very thing on the Montana forum. If you use the search window, and type "bears" you should locate a couple of very lengthy discussions on this topic.

=:)

Tallahassee
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151 posts
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6. Re: Bear encounters..

Thanks guys. We have black bears here in Florida and I've been close enough to them for great pictures and sometimes a bit of hair rising on the neck..BUT - Our hiking trails are flat and you can see way ahead of you so it's not unexpected when you come up on one.

I know we will have a great time and hope we do see at least one bear. If not, that's nature for you. The only concern I had was with the trails being unfamiliar and of course I don't want my family to be in harms way (got to be the man here). :)

I assume there are places in the area where I can get bear spray once we arrive? Don't think the airlines will let me take bear spray on a plane.

We are staying a few nights at Many Glacier so it sounds like this is the best are to see any bears. I love all wildlife and to come across even a deer is always a cool thing.

Thanks.

indiana
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for Glacier National Park
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7. Re: Bear encounters..

If you are staying in Many Glacier you will probably see bears, at least on the hillside above the lodges. A lot of the trails in Glacier have vegetation growing along both sides. That is the reason the black bear popped up and ran across the trail in front of us with no warning. Bear spray can be purchased at the grocery in West Glacier or the store by the Park Cafe as you exit the park at St. Mary on the way to Many Glacier. I'm sure the hotel gift shops have it, but have never purchased any there. The best price is (or was) at the store by the Park Cafe. You are right that you can't send it on the plane, but you can mail it home by ground mail only. We have done this the last couple of times and then mail it to the hotel a couple of weeks before our trip. Have fun and I'm sure you will have a great time. In Many Glacier make sure you hike to Fishercap Lake, about 1/2 mile down the Bullhead Lake trail on the left. Go in the afternoon and you will probably see a moose or two there feeding. Again, have a great trip.

Columbia Falls...
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82 posts
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8. Re: Bear encounters..

Regarding bear spray. Remember you can't just "mail" it home, you need to go to a specialist to have it properly packaged and registered. The closest place to GNP is in Columbia Falls, at the UPS adjacent to the Super 1 grocery on Highway 2. Wild River Adventures in West Glacier has had the best price for the spray, and will at times even rent a can. The UPS store has circulated flyers in West Glacier regarding shipping.

I hike the park every week during the summer months, and thankfully, have never had a bear encounter. I DO have a bracket on my hiking pole for the bear spray, we DO make noise, (none of those annoying bear bells) and stay alert. I would never go on a trail hoping to see bears. I am ok with them staying away from me. The park is great about posting sightings, check the ranger station before going out.

Hope this helps some!

Have a great trip to Glacier Country!

Calgary, Canada
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for Waterton Lakes National Park, Nelson
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9. Re: Bear encounters..

LOL.... I agree with mtangel - I prefer to see bears from the safety of my vehicle!

indiana
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for Glacier National Park
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10. Re: Bear encounters..

Don't want to argue about mailing bear spray home, but we have mailed it from the Whitefish post office every year, so if changes have been made, they have been recent. We also mailed ours home from the Mammoth Hot Springs post office at Yellowstone this year. The postmaster made us put it in a ziplock so it would be contained and then a box, that was it.