Non-Fatal Bear Attacks

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Non-Fatal Bear Attacks

Postby llholmes1948 » Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:12 pm

In the "Fear of heights" topic, Stillwater mentioned he has been researching non-fatal bear attacks in Glacier. I thought that topic deserved a separate topic heading of its own. I assume it probably should go under Hiking since most of these attacks have involved hikers.

I thought I would relate the non-fatal bear attacks that I know about and others can fill in the gaps or correct me if my information is incorrect. Perhaps Stillwater is familiar with these incidents already.

1. Otokomi Lake - July 18, 1960 - Three hikers were seriously injured in this attack on the trail near Otokomi Lake. This may have been the first or one of the first serious bear attacks in the Park but I may be wrong.

2. Lincoln Lake Campground -1972 (?) - As I recall, this was an attack on the only person camping at this campground that night. A bear attacked the camper who fled up a tree with the bear climbing the tree after him. I believe the camper stayed in the tree all night. I don't seem to recall that his injuries were that serious but it was certainly a harrowing night and if the camper had been unable to get up the tree and stay there it is hard to imagine what might have happened. I believe the thinking at the time was that the bear was probably a black bear and for that reason the attack was considered quite unusual since black bears had not been much of a problem in the Park as far as visitor safety was concerned. Sorry to be a bit vague on these details but it was over 36 years ago.

3. Grinnell Glacier Trail - 1975 (?), possibly 1977. This attack occurred when a young boy was hiking some distance in advance of his parents and surprised a bear on the trail. I don't recall much about the injuries but this boy was hospitalized for a while.

4. Avalanche Lake Trail - 1980s I believe, possibly early 1990s - A woman was attacked on the trail and as I understand it, at one point in the attack the bear had her entire head in its mouth. Her husband beat the bear with a stick and fortunately the bear released the woman and left the scene. I have the approximate date of this attack somewhere but not right at hand.

5. Scalplock Lookout Trail - 2001 (August ?) - As I recall two hikers were attacked in this incident. I believe that one of the hikers and perhaps both were seriously injured.

6. Grinnell Glacier Trail - August 2005 - Jacob Otter and his daughter were attacked and seriously injured after they surprised a grizzly with cubs on the trail. They were hiking early in the morning, well in advance of the ranger hike. I have wondered if they might have been the first people on the trail that morning.

Those are the incidents that I can recall. There were a number of years when I unfortunately didn't pay close attention to the Park so I have probably missed some incidents.

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Re: Non-Fatal Bear Attacks

Postby poky5mom » Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:10 am

I remember #6 well - that was the first year we had been to Glacier and that happened about 2 weeks after we had been home. We had hiked Grinnell Glacier that year - that was a little spooky!
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Re: Non-Fatal Bear Attacks

Postby llholmes1948 » Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:30 pm

poky5mom wrote:I remember #6 well - that was the first year we had been to Glacier and that happened about 2 weeks after we had been home. We had hiked Grinnell Glacier that year - that was a little spooky!
Kim


We had also hiked to Grinnell Glacier in July of that year with the glacier expert, Dan Fagre, and a film crew from the Discovery Channel. We were on the trail somewhat ahead of the regular ranger hike as I recall. As we hiked up the trail, my daughter was right near the front of our group and she later told me that several times as they approached a blind corner, the lead ranger or naturalist removed his bear spray from his holster and held it in his hand as they went around the corner.

I remember thinking at the time, "Well that is sort of a paranoid overreaction."

A month later, after the attack on the Otters, I revised my opinion and my respect for that gentleman increased substantially. Obviously he was well aware that in many attacks, you have virtually no time to react.

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Re: Non-Fatal Bear Attacks

Postby wnysteve » Thu Feb 19, 2009 3:29 pm

Long ago, I read that a man was attacked by three grizzlies at Piegan Pass in 1939, becoming the first recorded victim of a non-fatal bear attack in GNP. However, the source of my reading, like the incident itself, is back in foggy time.
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Re: Non-Fatal Bear Attacks

Postby llholmes1948 » Thu Feb 19, 2009 3:41 pm

wnysteve wrote:Long ago, I read that a man was attacked by three grizzlies at Piegan Pass in 1939, becoming the first recorded victim of a non-fatal bear attack in GNP. However, the source of my reading, like the incident itself, is back in foggy time.


Thanks for that information. It would be interesting to know where you had read that.

However, your mention of Piegan Pass has jogged my memory. There was an additional non-fatal bear attack, within the past ten years, which took place at Piegan Pass. I can't recall the year but as a guess it might be 2005 or 2006 and I believe it was in September. As I recall two women were attacked, one of whom was employed at the Park Cafe.

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Re: Non-Fatal Bear Attacks

Postby stillwater » Thu Feb 19, 2009 3:48 pm

There was a attack on two hikers in the preston park area in the mid 1990's.

There have been black bear attacks in the Avalanche area as well.

It is very tough to find some of these accounts on the internet. Not fore sure why?
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Re: Non-Fatal Bear Attacks

Postby poky5mom » Thu Feb 19, 2009 5:10 pm

llholmes1948 wrote:
poky5mom wrote:I remember #6 well - that was the first year we had been to Glacier and that happened about 2 weeks after we had been home. We had hiked Grinnell Glacier that year - that was a little spooky!
Kim


We had also hiked to Grinnell Glacier in July of that year with the glacier expert, Dan Fagre, and a film crew from the Discovery Channel. We were on the trail somewhat ahead of the regular ranger hike as I recall. As we hiked up the trail, my daughter was right near the front of our group and she later told me that several times as they approached a blind corner, the lead ranger or naturalist removed his bear spray from his holster and held it in his hand as they went around the corner.

I remember thinking at the time, "Well that is sort of a paranoid overreaction."

A month later, after the attack on the Otters, I revised my opinion and my respect for that gentleman increased substantially. Obviously he was well aware that in many attacks, you have virtually no time to react.

Lyman


We were pretty novice hikers at that time- no bear spray - I am pretty sure we were making enough noise - but no thought to anything as we went around blind corners - kind of scary now when we think back to that!
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Re: Non-Fatal Bear Attacks

Postby llholmes1948 » Thu Feb 19, 2009 7:01 pm

stillwater wrote:There was a attack on two hikers in the preston park area in the mid 1990's.

There have been black bear attacks in the Avalanche area as well.

It is very tough to find some of these accounts on the internet. Not fore sure why?


As I recall all of the attacks that I have mentioned were reported in the Hungry Horse News (except maybe for Otokomi Lake as I am not sure the Hungry Horse News had started then.)
I am not sure what shape their archives are in or if they have one but their old issues would be a great source of information.

I had a lot of trouble finding out much about the Otokomi Lake attack until I posted some questions on this site and Balou turned me on to the Warren Hanna books, "The Grizzlies of Glacier National Park" and "Montana's Many-Splendored Glacierland." The "Grizzlies" book has a lot of information on the Otokomi Lake attack and cleared up many misunderstandings that I had about it. My thanks again to Balou for pointing out these great books.

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2233

Looking through Hanna's "Grizzlies" book, I see that he lists two incidents with injuries in 1976 on pages 9 and 10.

One was on July 16, 1976 when a grizzly bit through a tent and injured a camper at the middle campground at Logging Lake. The bear then chased the campers into the lake and they had to remain in the lake for about an hour before the bear left. The injuries were not serious.

A more serious incident was on Sept. 9, 1976 when Roscoe Black of St. Mary and two women were attacked on the switchbacks while hiking down from Stoney Indian Pass to Goathaunt. Hanna reports that Black and one of the women received serious lacerations which incapacitated them and they had to be evacuated by helicopter that evening.

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Re: Non-Fatal Bear Attacks

Postby llholmes1948 » Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:17 pm

stillwater wrote:There was a attack on two hikers in the preston park area in the mid 1990's.


When I worked in the Park in the early 1970s, Preston Park had quite a reputation as a place where there could be "bear problems" and I think the trail(s) in that area would be closed on occasion due to bears.

In recent years it seems that Preston Park has lost it reputation as a place frequented by bears. I certainly don't look at the trail status page on the Park website every day but I can't recall anytime in the past 8 or 9 years when the trails in the Preston Park area have been closed due to bears.

I assume some of the Park employees on the Chat would have a better idea of the bear situation at Preston Park.

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Re: Non-Fatal Bear Attacks

Postby stillwater » Fri Feb 20, 2009 5:52 am

When I worked in the Park in the early 1970s, Preston Park had quite a reputation as a place where there could be "bear problems" and I think the trail(s) in that area would be closed on occasion due to bears.

In recent years it seems that Preston Park has lost it reputation as a place frequented by bears. I certainly don't look at the trail status page on the Park website every day but I can't recall anytime in the past 8 or 9 years when the trails in the Preston Park area have been closed due to bears.



I have yet to see a 'west side' grizzly bear in Glacier. I have only been hiking in the park since the late 1990's, but in the last 5 years I made dozens of trips over there. I usually see quite a few black bears on the west side while biking and hiking the GTTSR, before it opens to automobiles.

Just as a side note to new Glacier visitors who may be concerned after reading about these attacks, you are far more likely to get hurt getting to Glacier than by a bear.
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Re: Non-Fatal Bear Attacks

Postby stillwater » Fri Feb 20, 2009 6:03 am

In recent years it seems that Preston Park has lost it reputation as a place frequented by bears.


When I hiked the Siyeh Pass trail in 2006 there was bear scat and 'diggings' along the trail.

A Canadian fellow I know that frequents the Park, had to turn around and hike back out on the Piegan Pass trail one day in early autumn (might have been summer still on the calender) because of a grizzly sow and cub on the trail.
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Re: Non-Fatal Bear Attacks

Postby daveparker » Fri Feb 20, 2009 9:24 am

I have seen grizzly on the west side quite a few times over the last ten years, quite often on the Camas road, I have also seen them from the car on the inside NF road a couple of times. The wife and I had one run across the road right at the loop switchback a few years ago, and the last time, was right at the big bowl area before you get to logan pass, there was a large boar and probably 200 yards a way was a sow with a cub, at the same time there were two moose down there as well..

My Mother in Law, who spent a lot of time camping in Glacier in the late 40's early 50's has related stories of being awakened by bears in Sprauge Creek Campground. In listening to her stories, I suspect most of the time it was black bears, but she does describe one incident in which a bear tore down a tent and the description sound a lot like a grizzly.

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Re: Non-Fatal Bear Attacks

Postby stillwater » Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:21 am

and the last time, was right at the big bowl area before you get to logan pass, there was a large boar and probably 200 yards a way was a sow with a cub, at the same time there were two moose down there as well..


Is this the spot where the small pond is when you look down from the Oberlin boardwalk area?
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Re: Non-Fatal Bear Attacks

Postby Calgary Ray » Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:34 am

Lyman:

I guess it depends on how you define a non-fatal bear attack as to how many your record. Here's a partial list with a variety of examples:

August 1939: John Daubney received lacerations in a bear attack at Piegan Pass.
May 1947: A bear opens the door to a parked car on Going-to-the-Sun Road and trashes it.
July 1947: Mary Ann Martin of British Columbia is bitten while feeding cookies to a large balck bear near Avalanche Creek on the side of GTS Road.
July 1955: Edward Stark of St. Paul, Minn., is attacked by a black bear while in his sleeping bag. He has serious injuries to his head. it is believed it is the same bear who injured another camper earlier in the week.
June 1956: Three fishermen tried scaring a bear away at Trout Lake by throwing rocks at it. They were saved by a burro that gave chase to the bear, running him out of camp three times.
July 1956: E.M. Bauer of St. Louis was slapped by a bear that scratched her forearm and tore her coat. She had rolled down the car window and was taking a picture of the bear when it attacked.
August 1957: a Two-year-old black bear climbs into a car window on GTS Road, forcing the family out.
July 1960: Three hikers injured near Otokomi Lake.
September 1965: District ranger Robert Sellers was bitten by a grizzly in the McDonald Valley. Just a few months later sellers vehicle went off an icy road and over a 90 foot embankment.
August 1966: A grizzly sow with cubs attempts to attack a mule that is part of a pack train coming down from Numa Ridge Lookout station near Bowman Lake. The mule escaped.
November 1967: Robert Gilmore of Torrance, Calif., was injjured in a bear attack in the North Fork Valley.
May 1968: Robert Hahn, a Cardston, Alberta, school teacher was bitten by a grizzly that pulled him out of a tree while on a solo expedition to photograph bears.
July 1972: a Bear bites the hand of Gordon Edwards (of Glacier climbing book fame) during an attack in which Edwards' ice axe went into the sow's chest.
July 1973: Roger Sandstat of Anaconda received gashes to his scalp in a bear attack while sleeping in the Avalanche campground.
August 1975: Three members of a family from DesPlaines, Ill., were taken to hospital after a bear attack near Grinnell Glacier.
September 1976: Roscoe Black and Mary Lusher are attacked by a grizzly while on the switchbacks from Stoney Indian Lake.
August 1977: Neale Roberts of Evergreen, Colorado, was tossled and bitten by a bear while camping at Arrow Lake.
May 1978: A black bear along the Camas Road is fond of biting the tires of vehicles that stop to see him, causing blowouts.
July 1978: a Bear bites an 18-year-old from California who may have been trying to feed it.
July 1983: Richard Kirchoffer, 63, of Whitefish is pulled from a tree in a grizzly attack. The bear came up after him.
1984: Two Californians attacked by a grizzly near Fifty Mountain Campground. They would later sue the park for negligence in not being adequately warned of the bear dangers. They lost their initial case.
September 1986: Patricia Duff and Jeff Brown were attacked anbitten by a grizzly on the Loop Trail. They have wounds to their arms and legs.
July 1987: Glenn Solomon of Durham, North Carolina, uses his fists to beat off a bear that tore into his leg near the Siyeh Pass Trail.

I'll stop now, but you can see the variety of incidents.
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Re: Non-Fatal Bear Attacks

Postby soup! » Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:15 pm

llholmes1948 wrote:
I had a lot of trouble finding out much about the Otokomi Lake attack until I posted some questions on this site and Balou turned me on to the Warren Hanna books, "The Grizzlies of Glacier National Park" and "Montana's Many-Splendored Glacierland." The "Grizzlies" book has a lot of information on the Otokomi Lake attack and cleared up many misunderstandings that I had about it. My thanks again to Balou for pointing out these great books.



This is probably obvious but I'd add to that list "bear attacks their causes and avoidance" which covers in detail several bear attacks in GNP (probably already in the list above), and "The grizzly years" (AWESOME BOOK) which iirc mentions a few.
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