A hunter’s Wednesday afternoon elk kill quickly attracted grizzly bears foraging nearby northwest of Gardiner, prompting the hunter to retreat and the Forest Service to close the area.
The trail closure is the second this week in Montana.
On Monday Lewis and Clark National Forest officials closed a two-mile section of trail southwest of East Glacier Park after a hunter was bitten by a grizzly sow with cubs when he hiked in with a partner to retrieve an elk he had shot. The bear was shot and killed by the hunters.
The Gardiner Ranger District implemented an emergency area closure Thursday for the Beattie Gulch area, which is just north of Yellowstone National Park. The area will remain closed until the carcass near Beattie Gulch Trail is consumed.
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According to a Forest Service statement, the hunter did all the right things — he was hunting with a group, had bear spray and after seeing the bears quickly backed off the carcass and notified agency authorities.
“The Forest Service, Park Service and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks are working closely to investigate and monitor the situation,” said Ron Hecker, Gardiner District Ranger. “While it is common for bears to be in Beattie Gulch, the carcass’ proximity to the trail in a low visibility area and the presence of multiple bears create additional safety concerns. We will reopen the area as soon as it is safe to do so.”
The closure includes the Beattie Gulch area from the Beattie Gulch Trailhead to the north where forest lands borders private land. The closure extends southward to the Yellowstone National Park border and to the west where the trail veers north and leaves forest land (about 2.5 miles west of the trailhead on the western edge of section 12).
For information about the closure, contact the Gardiner Ranger District at 848-7375.