Blog Cabin

Entries in grizzly bears (10)


GNP trail closure likely to last for "several days" 

Avalanche Lake is one of the most popular day hikes in Glacier- GNP photo (WEST GLACIER)- Glacier National Park rangers say the closure of one of the most popular day hiking trails in the park is likely to last for several days, until they're sure grizzlies seen in the area have moved on. 

The park announced Monday the Avalanche Lake Trail off the Going-to-the-Sun Road was being closed from the trailhead to the head of the lake after a group of hikers surrounded a grizzly cub along the lake shore. Rangers say the cub had to swim out into the lake to get away from the growing crowd. 

The closure is expected to continue until biologists have a chance to determine the bears movement around the lake.

The park always recommended people maintain at least a 300' buffer between themselves and any bears to allow their natural behavior and keep both park visitors and bears safe.


Another grizzly killed on Western MT road

(RONAN)- Tribal biologists say a young grizzly struck and killed by a car near Ronan is the third bear to die on the Flathead Reservation this year. 

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe reports the yearling grizzly was hit near the scenic turnout off Highway 93 south of Ronan. He was found along the road by a passing motorist, who reported the discovery to the tribe. The bear weighed about 100-pounds. 

Stacy Courville, Tribal Wildlife Management Program reiterate that, “This has been a difficult year for bears and will likely continue to be difficult for bears until the snow flies”. 

Since Sept 1 there have been a minimum of 15 bears that have been struck and killed on highways including one grizzly bear. Biologists say many of the deaths are being caused by bears being more active this year as they search for food in the drought conditions. 


Bigfork man fined, but avoids prison for grizzly shooting 

(MISSOULA)- A Bigfork man who said he shot three young grizzlies to protect his family won't be going to prison for killing the bears. 

However, he will have to pay thousands of dollars in fines and be on probation for 3-years. 

Dan Calvert Wallen was charged with three counts of Taking a Threatened Species in January, with prosecutors accusing him of killing the bears that came on his property last year with a 22-caliber rifle. Wallen had said the bears broke into his chicken coop and kept coming back while his family was in the yard. 

Tuesday, defense attorney John Rhodes argued Wallen was a "high quality individual who found himself in a bad situation", arguing against prison time or fines, saying the "bears got themselves into the situation."

Judge Lynch decided to order Wallen to serve three years probation, with 60-days in a federal pre-release center, in addition to paying $15-thousand dollars in restitution. 

The judge said he hoped the sentence "would show to the general public", and to Wallen, "this conduct won't be tolerated." 


Warm weather waking up grizzlies 

YNP photo(YELLOWSTONE NAT'L PARK)- The unusually warm weather might be hard for winter sports enthusiasts to bear. But it means some of the region's grizzlies are already starting to come out of hibernation.

Yellowstone National Park managers say they received their first confirmed report of a grizzly on Monday, when a bear was spotted scavenging on a bison carcass in the center of the park. That's several weeks earlier than normal.

That's prompting biologists to issue bear warnings for park visitors, telling hikers, skiers and snowshoers to be on the lookout for grizzlies. They advise backcountry travelers to travel in groups of three or more, make noise on the trail and carry bear spray. 

Biologists say bears look for food as soon as they emerge from their dens and feast on deer, elk and bison that have died during the winter storms. And they warn bears will frequently be aggressive about those food sources. 

Yellowstone regulations require park visitors to stay more than 1-hundred yards away from bears at all times. 

Conditions have been colder in the north, and there's been no word of confirmed grizzly sightings in Northwest Montana. Still, precautions are probably a good idea given the continued springlike temperatures. 


Bigfork man facing charges of shooting bears 

Dennis Bragg file photo(MISSOULA)- A Bigfork man is scheduled to appear in federal court later this month on charges that he killed three grizzlies who were feasting on his chickens. 

Dan Calvert Wallen is facing three charges of Unlawful Taking of a Threatened Species after federal prosecutors say he shot the bears last May. Formal charges were filed a few days ago.

Prosecutors say Wallen shot all three bears within minutes of each other. The first bear had been shot and injured and was later put down by a neighbor. The carcass of the second grizzly was found the following day by a Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist as he attempted to set a trap for the remaining bears in the area. 

The third bear was found on June 4th by a neighbor near her home. 

Wallen had told authorities he shot at the bears with a .22 caliber rifle after they had broken into his chicken coop the night before and then repeatedly came back the following day, including when the family was playing baseball in the yard. Wallen said he had chased the bears off with his truck, but then shot at them with the small rifle in an effort to scare them off. 

Wallen has been ordered to appear in U.S. District Court to answer to the charges on January 27th.