My first time seeing a grizzly bear, and it was off to a bad start.
I'm sure you all know that RUNNING from grizzlies is pretty much the worst thing you can do. Getting the women to calm down and stop running was critical.
Fortunately, I was out doing a mountain goat survey with an experienced Glacier National Park Citizen Science volunteer. She is a mountaineer and extremely knowledgeable about Glacier wildlife.
We got everyone together, and started backing down the trail, talking in calm voices. But the bear just kept coming down the trail towards us.
|I did not get a photo in the moment, but my drawing is totally accurate.|
The volunteer I was with kept everyone behind her and her bear spray outstretched while we tried to keep everyone calm. She is one brave, awesome women!
There was a long moment where time stopped when the grizzly got close to us. Was he going to charge us? Where the panicking women going to start running again? We were all relieved when the grizzly just kept moving on down the trail. I never ever want to get that close to a grizzly again.
The coolest thing was that the Citizen Scientist I was with was a special VIP volunteer and had a radio so she phoned the rangers to alert them to the bear. The rangers asked us if we would follow the bear to keep people away from our side and monitor where the bear went, while they sent a ranger up the trail from the other direction. So, we abandoned our goat survey, and turned around to follow the bear at what we hoped was a safe distance.
|On the Highline Trail with one awesome volunteer.|
Finally, we met up with the ranger. The ranger told us that when the grizzly saw him coming up the trail, the sight of his gun made the bear finally run off the trail down the slope. Rangers use special non-lethal bullets to haze habituated bears. Apparently, this grizzly knew the drill.
|This great park ranger took time to show us the special rubber bullets he uses and to educate everyone about grizzlies. I really appreciate his hard work!|
|Afterwards, we went to Hidden Lake to do a mountain goat survey there. We saw a bunch of mountain goats, but all I got was a photo of flowers.|
For more information:
High Country Citizen Science Program at Glacier
Glacier National Park's info on bears