Changes to Glacier National Park's bear management plan, made in part to reflect recommendations stemming from the killing of the "Oldman Lake" grizzly sow and one of her cubs, are open for public review until May 7.
The sow, which gained a reputation as a problem bear for her association of park visitors with food, was killed last August by rangers. While there also was an attempt to tranquilize her two cubs so they could be removed from the park, one of the cubs died when the tranquilizer dart lacerated a jugular vein.
While a Board of Review found no problems with how rangers killed the sow and tranquilized her cubs, it did cite communications problems between rangers and campers in the Oldman Lake Campground, between rangers and a helicopter pilot working with them, and internal park staff communications following the incident.
Among 17 recommendations the review panel made were calls for:
* Informing campers, when applicable, of what's going on;
* Continuing to build "skill sets needed for emergency situations; aviation management skills, skills in all aspects of wild life management, including tactics for removal operations;"
* Developing procedures for properly carrying wildlife; in this instance, the two cubs were carried over the shoulders of rangers;
* Improving the skills of seasonal staff;
* Evaluating "(f)irearms Policy for future training to do the job effectively. Define job expectations better, to include the full range of wildlife management actions. Consider using hunter education simulations to learn where shots should be placed," and;
* Developing "better communications between bear managers within the Park to ensure specific bears are tracked and incidents recorded."
According to park spokeswoman Amy Vanderbilt, the bulk of the changes to the management plan were wording changes to bring Glacier in line with language and definitions used in other parks' bear management plans; to add definitions to clarify things such as a "bear sighting" or "bear encounter;" and to better explain what a "conditioned" bear is. The plan also calls for park employees to have access to on-line bear reporting information, she said.
“The plan and guidelines describe the conditions of how the National Park Service manages Glacier’s bear populations," said Superintendent Chas Cartwright. "These tools also reflect the best available knowledge and management techniques that bear managers can employ."
The findings from the Oldman Lake bear removal action BOR are attached below.
Glacier’s Bear Management Plan and Guidelines are available online on the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website at: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?parkId=61&projectId=31398. This takes you to Glacier’s “Bear Management Plan” project. There is a menu where you can view all associated documents. The documents highlight suggested changes so viewers won't have to compare different documents to see suggested changes. Written comments may also be submitted to: Superintendent, Glacier National Park, Attn: Bear Management Plan and Guidelines Revision, P.O. Box 128, West Glacier, Montana 59936.