GALLATIN GATEWAY — The Buffalo Horn Trail behind the 320 Guest Ranch south of Big Sky is currently closed following the death of a horse belonging to archery hunters. According to Kevin Frey, a grizzly bear specialist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the horse died on the trail on Sept. 14.
“There was grizzly bear activity along the trail prior to the horse dying and knowing that bears would soon find the carcass and begin feeding on it, the trail was closed for public safety,” he said in an email to EBS, adding that hunters who travel in the dark during early morning or evening hours could be at risk of an encounter.
“A carcass can be viable for roughly four to 14 days, depending on the size of carcass and the number of scavengers,” he said.
It is unclear how the horse died at this time, as it was a private expedition, but the U.S. Forest Service Bozeman Ranger District speculates old age was the cause.
As of press time, representatives from the U.S. Forest Service Bozeman Ranger District had not yet inspected the status of the corpse, allowing substantial decomposition and scavenging to occur.
Given the high chance of trail users encountering a bear at the carcass, the Custer Gallatin National Forest has not yet reopened the trail for recreationists.
For more information, call the U.S. Forest Service Bozeman Ranger District at (406) 522-2520.