Associated Press GLACIER NATIONAL PARK - A sow bear and at least one cub - nobody's getting close enough to be certain - have settled down for their long winter's nap in crawl space under a Glacier National Park building.
Rangers have confirmed the winter tenants, but only on condition that the exact location of the building not be disclosed.
"Just say the bear has denned in one of the concession buildings operated by Glacier Park Inc., in the general vicinity of Many Glacier," suggested Dick Mattson, Many Glacier subdistrict ranger.
They're pretty sure it's a black bear - less dangerous than a grizzly - but any bear with cubs is dangerous. The rangers don't want spectators.
"There's always a danger when people get too close to bears, particularly when a mother bear with a cub is involved," Many Glacier bear ranger Rachel Jenkins said. "Bears do not go into a complete hibernation and indeed can get up in midwinter and amble around."
The road leading to the Many Glacier Lodge area is closed for the winter, and rangers have posted warning signs around the building.
Maintenance workers alerted Jenkins in mid-November that they had seen tracks near the building and spotted a hole ripped into the plywood skirt around the crawl space.
Jenkins and biologist Debra Elwood collected hair stuck to the plywood to get a DNA sample, and Jenkins peered into the hole with a flashlight.
"When I saw eyes looking back, it confirmed in my mind there was a bear in there, so we didn't hang around," she said.
Mattson checked the following day with both a flashlight and a night vision scope and saw enough to think they are black bears.
"Basically, we're just letting her hibernate with her cub and hoping she'll wake up and leave her den next spring before we start opening the park for human visitors," Mattson said.