WEST GLACIER, MONT. – A hiker was injured by a grizzly bear on Tuesday, September 29, 2015 at approximately 5 pm in Glacier National Park. His injuries were not life threatening.
The 65-year male hiker from Wisconsin was hiking alone off- trail near Mt. Henkel in the Many Glacier Valley, where he surprised a sow grizzly with two sub-adult cubs. The hiker was grabbed and shaken by the bear during the encounter. The man successfully deployed his bear spray, causing the bear to release him and leave the area. The hiker received puncture wounds to his lower leg and injuries to his hand.
The man hiked back to his vehicle in Many Glacier and drove himself to the emergency room at the Northern Rockies Medical Center in Cutbank, Montana. He was treated and released later the evening of September 29, and continued on with his travel itinerary. He called Glacier National Park Dispatch to report the incident. Rangers are still investigating the incident.
According to park rangers, the bear’s response to the hiker was defensive in nature and consistent with a surprise encounter with a hiker.
Visitors to Glacier National Park are reminded that the park is home to black and grizzly bears. Bears spend a lot of time eating, so avoid hiking in obvious feeding areas like berry patches, cow parsnip thickets, or fields of glacier lilies. Hikers are highly encouraged to hike in groups, make noise when hiking, and have bear spray accessible and know how to use it. For more information about recreating in bear country, please visit http://www.nps.gov/glac/naturescience/bears.htm.
At this time of year, bears are entering a phase called hyperphagia. It is a period of concentrated feeding to prepare for hibernation. There has been a shortage of berries in many areas of the park this year, leading to the potential for increased bear activity in visitor use areas. Thus it is especially important that visitors keep campgrounds and developed areas clean and free of food and trash. Regulations require that all edibles, food containers, and cookware be stored in a hard-sided vehicle or food locker when not in use, day or night. Place all trash in bear-proof containers. Do not burn waste in fire rings or leave litter around your camp. Fire rings should be free of trash before vacating a campsite.
For more information about hiking in bear country while recreating in Glacier National Park, visit http://www.nps.gov/glac/naturescience/bears.htm.