A popular, front-country campground in Glacier National Park has been temporarily closed due to bears searching for meals there.
The 83-site Rising Sun Campground, located not far inside the St. Mary Entrance on the east of the park, has had several bear incidents recently.
“Early Sunday morning a bear, believed to be a small sub-adult black bear, approached and laid on a corner of a tent that was occupied by sleeping campers,” park officials said. “The campers awoke and started yelling, and observed a black bear running from the tent. There have been two other incidents in the campground and surrounding area within the past month, all believed to be with the same bear.
“One incident involved the bear snatching a pillow from a sleeping camper, and the other incident involved the bear going through some clothing that was located along the lakeshore. The incidents included no injuries,” they said.
Early Monday morning the upper loop of the campground was closed, and the lower loop was only open to hard-sided camping. As of Tuesday, the entire campground was closed to all camping. All campers are being provided an opportunity to relocate to another campground within the park.
“It appears that the bear is not looking for a food reward, or that it has received one, but it is learning to approach and handle human materials,” the park release said. “ Park rangers and wildlife managers will conduct aversive conditioning, or negative reinforcement, to attempt to modify the bear’s behavior. This will include trapping the bear, tagging the bear, and conducting hazing techniques using bean bags, rubber bullets, and/or noise stimulus.”
A grizzly bear also has recently been sighted in the area. Since a trap will be used, and it may trap the grizzly bear, the entire campground will be temporarily closed for visitor and bear safety.
While the campground is closed -- the duration of the closure is not known -- the nightly ranger programs will be moved to the St. Mary Campground. Visitors for the program that are not camping at the St. Mary Campground are encouraged to park at the St. Mary Visitor Center and walk a short distance across the footbridge for the program.