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Bear bite prompts trail closures

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Town Crier “Briefs from the Region” (1) – 6/21/21

On June 19, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks received a report that a man had been bitten by a bear while camping near Mystic Lake in the Custer Gallatin National Forest, prompting the temporary closure of Sourdough Trail, one of Bozeman’s most popular. The person was airlifted to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital, but his injuries are not life threatening. The Forest Service also reported that the Mystic Lake campers had left behind a warm campfire. According to a Facebook post by the Forest Service, this was the second bear encounter in the area this week—the first being near Battle Ridge Campground in the Bangtail Mountains—where a bear had been receiving food rewards from humans. The species of the bear is unknown at this time. Those of us who have lived in bear country for a while have heard the adage that a “fed bear is a dead bear.” The saying refers to the danger of habituating wildlife—how once a bear understands that a human is a food source, it can be a danger to all humans, a circumstance that often results in the bear being euthanized.

“It is paramount for human safety and for the safety of the wildlife … we are fortunate enough to live with here on the Custer Gallatin National Forest that you always store your food properly; regardless of front country camping with your vehicle or backcountry camping with bear safe (approved) canisters,” said the post.

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