Night of the grizzlies

Posted on September 3, 2014

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Between the 1930s and up until the late 1960s Glacier National Park allowed people to feed bears.

As crazy as it seems, people did not consider a habituated grizzly a danger. Scientists knew differently but hikers would leave food out on the porch of chalets and food policy was very lax. The bears soon came to associate people with food.

In 1967 all of that changed. Two people were killed and eaten by two different bears in two different areas of the park.

The first woman was part of a group camping in the wilderness. They had built a bonfire and tried to use the fire to keep the bear out; but it just kept coming back and eventually swiped the woman and dragged her off where she was killed and eaten close by.

The second incident which happened on the same night was close to where the chalets were. A young couple were sleeping out in the open and were inside in their sleeping bags when the attack happened. The bear pulled the sleeping bag of the woman and dragged her out. Her boyfriend tried in vain to hang onto her but there was nothing he could do. She was pulled off into the woods where he could hear her screams. She too was killed and eaten alive.

Bear attacks like this rarely happen (an exception was around four years ago a guy was killed in his tent by a sow as she was starving and needed to feed her cubs). People are warned about clearing up their food mess and everything, and I mean everything is supposed to get locked away. That includes suncream, lip balm anything that has an odour than can attract bears.

Me and B have just arrived in Glacier National Park we slept in a cabin last night due to bad weather. Tonight we are camping as it is now beginning to brighten up. Despite being surrounded by lots of other campers I will make sure the top of my sleeping bag is left ajar tonight. If I need to wriggle out I want to be prepared.

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