With nearly 300 grizzly bears, Glacier National Park is home to the highest density of grizzly bears in the lower 48 states. Add in approximately 600 black bears and over 2 million human visitors per year, and the stage is set for a challenging management situation. Glacier has risen to the challenge and has one of the most successful bear management programs in the world. Visitor injury rates and property damage rates are exceedingly low and declining. Property damage claims are nearly non-existent, and levels of human-caused bear mortality are also low.
This successful bear management program does not come without cost. The park is frequently challenged to afford the tools or services required to implement actions that protect bears. When bears begin entering occupied backcountry campsites, experienced bear rangers or specially trained Karelian bear dogs and their handlers can be sent to apply adverse conditioning to the bear so that it can learn to avoid occupied campsites.
In 2014, the park made efforts to locate a grizzly bear shot by a hiker on the Mt. Brown Lookout Trail but was ultimately unsuccessful due to the lack of funds available to set a trap to capture and treat the bear, if injured.
This project would allow the park to respond proactively to bears that cause concern, creating a safer environment for both the bears and the visitors. The bear management fund will help defray ongoing and emergency costs of bear preservation.