Ennis, MT., Oct. 3, 2016 – Due to recent bear activity and encounters, Forest Service officials have temporarily closed trails and the area surrounding Bear Creek that leads into the Lee Metcalf Wilderness. “We are closing this area to provide for the safety of our visitors,” said Madison District Ranger Dale Olson.
Currently, the MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks is investigating all aspects of an incident related to a recent bear encounter with a visitor on Sat. Oct. 1. The bear did not appear to be acting abnormally. Bears have different individual distances that they feel threatened by or react defensively to. Female grizzly bears protect their young and the incident apprears to be a protective/defensive encounter with the visitor and there are no plans to remove the bear. The Forest Service will continue to work with MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to monitor the area and make decisions deemed necessary in regards to bear management.
Warning and closure signs have been posted at the Bear Creek trailhead. The following trails and area surrounding these trails has been closed: 6325, 6324, 6343, 6345, Burger Creek Trail and Middle-North Bear Connector Trail).
Some general safety tips when visiting bear country to keep in mind are:
- Carry bear spray and make sure it is readily available.
- Special rules apply for storing food and attractants on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF, be in attendance of food and attractants or store them appropriately.
- Game carcasses can be stored in a solid sided vehicle or horse trailer, a bear resistant container, or by hanging your carcasses 10 feet off the ground and four feet out from any tree or support pole.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Use caution and make plenty of noise before approaching areas where a bear may not hear, smell or see you coming 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 in the spring and summer.
- Watch for signs of bear – tracks, scat and markings on trees are all good indicators.
- 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. It may take some of the adventure out of your visit, but by staying on the trail you’ll minimize potential bear encounters.
- Always make sure you let someone know where you are going, and when you plan to return.
- Check for current posted bear related information (trailheads and other locations).