WEST GLACIER – A bit of a role reversal to the Goldilocks story has led Glacier National Park officials to temporarily close the Rising Sun Campground.

Seems the “somebody” who’s been attempting to sleep in someone’s bed here, has been a bear.

Early Sunday morning what is believed to be a small sub-adult black bear approached an occupied tent in the campground, located on the park’s east side, and lay down on a corner of it. The campers awoke and frightened it away by yelling.

The incident follows on the heels of two others in the campground in the past month, including one where a bear snatched a pillow from under a sleeping camper’s head.

All three incidents are believed to involve the same young bear. In the third, a bear rifled through clothing along the shores of St. Mary Lake, where the campground is located.

No one was injured in any of the incidents.

Denise Germann, management assistant, said the bear does not appear to be looking for a food reward, nor has it received one.

“But it is learning to approach and handle human materials,” Germann said. “Park rangers and wildlife managers will conduct aversive conditioning, or negative reinforcement, to attempt to modify the bear’s behavior.”

That means trapping and tagging the bear, and using hazing techniques involving bean bags, rubber bullets and/or noise stimulus.

The conditioning may take a few days.

A grizzly bear has been sighted in the vicinity of the campground as well. Because the trap could attract it, the entire 83-spot campground is being closed temporarily.

Officials had closed the upper loop Monday and limited occupancy in the lower loop to hard-sided camping after the latest incident, and announced the entire campground would close starting Tuesday.

Nightly Rising Sun Campground programs will move to the St. Mary Campground during the closure.

Rising Sun Campground is a first-come, first-served facility. Officials don’t know how long it will be closed.

Updated information is available by calling 888-7800 or by visiting home.mps.gov/applications/glac/cgstatus/cgstatus.cfm.

Reporter Vince Devlin can be reached at 1-800-366-7186 or by email at vdevlin@missoulian.com.

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(1) comment


"The bear does not appear to be looking for a food reward" - difficult to believe.

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