A few words for you to consider about wildlife:
- Don’t bother with those bear bells sold in the gift shops. Bears don’t associate the ringing of a bell to humans. My husband calls them "dinner bells." The best thing you can do on a hike is to talk a lot and sing songs.
- A bear can run at 35 MPH. Don’t even think about getting out of a car to walk closer to one. I’ve seen this at Many Glacier!
- Safety is still in numbers. There have never been reports of bears attacking a group of 4 or more. Mountain lions will track a group, but it is the lone hiker that is in the greatest danger.
- Most bear attacks are because people surprise them on the trail or their cubs get separated. Back off as quietly as you can and do not run! Bears will often do a false charge at you. Stay low and quiet while you wet your pants.
The opposite is true with Mountain Lions where aggressive attitude is required.Women on their menses need to take extra care.
- After eating, wash out small containers in a stream or lake before cleaning hands well. If you have cooked a hot meal, and have more cleanup you need to take the stream water and dispose of it in a buried hole away from the stream itself.
It helps to travel a trail with some common sense. Look for animal spoor and fresh prints of animals. You don’t have to be Kit Carson to be able to see these signs. Be "in tune" to the sights and sounds around you by keeping an ear out for unusual sounds or commotion on or off the trail. Rangers also post warnings on trails where bear have been spotted. Go hike somewhere else if a particular trail has been "posted" that day saving the closed trail until the warning has been lifted.
It’s important to keep this all in perspective! There are very few animal attacks in the park when you consider how many millions of people visit here each year! I think that the worst condition would be someone who became too terrified to actually get out on the trail and experience the spectacular beauty found here. Bears really don’t care to socialize with humans and when they do, the Park Service quickly tags and removes that bear to remote ends of the wilderness.