A young grizzly bear apparently fell to its death in Glacier National Park, where it was found on the Going-to-the-Sun Road by maintenance workers.
An investigation, which included a necropsy of the roughly 5-year-old bear, indicated that it most likely fell off a steep snowbank Thursday morning and landed head first on the pavement about a mile above "The Loop" section of the road. Based on crew movements up and down the Going-to-the-Sun Road, officials estimate the bear fell sometime between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Thursday.
Park officials notified the US Fish and Wildlife Service as required since the grizzly bear is listed as an endangered species, and informed Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks of the incident. Park law enforcement rangers conducted an investigation and wildlife biologists conducted a necropsy of the bear.
"The bear was a 190-pound male, believed to be approximately 5 years old. The bear had no markings to signify any prior capture," a park release said. "The necropsy indicated death was the result of a fall and considered a natural death. The bear had head injuries, broken ribs and other internal injuries consistent with a fall. There was no evidence of any struggle or fight prior to the fall, or any indication of a vehicle collision. The terrain above the location where the bear was found includes a steep snowbank, some steep cliffs and a drop of approximately 12 feet."
Glacier officials estimate there are about 300 grizzly bears in the park. Numerous state and federal agencies have worked together to manage and recover the grizzly bear population in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, including Glacier National Park. The Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem encompasses about 9,600 square miles of northwestern Montana, and includes Glacier National Park, parts of the Flathead and Blackfeet Indian Reservations, parts of five national forests (Flathead, Helena, Kootenai, Lewis and Clark and Lolo), Bureau of Land Management lands, and a significant amount of state and private lands.