Protective mama bear prompts trail closure near Mendenhall Glacier

(Video courtesy Jos Bakker, USFS bear volunteer)

U.S. Forest Service officials are concerned about a stressed out mama bear near the Mendenhall Glacier.

John Neary, director of the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, says the bear is becoming more aggressive toward hikers, mountain bikers and off-leash dogs.

“She doesn’t move off. She’ll stand her ground on the trail. She’ll even approach hikers, wanting them to move back away from her,” Neary says.

He says the black bear and her three cubs have been seen most often on East Glacier Trail, which has been closed temporarily to give the animals some space. Neary says the cubs are a little more than a year old, and could strike off on their own soon.

In 2013, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game tagged the mother bear, called Bear 103 by wildlife officials.

“The radio collar data plus our own observations show her using much of this area – Dredge Lakes, the backside of the Steep Creek area, the Steep Creek Trail by the meadows, the Trail of Time. She could be sighted anywhere along this zone,” Neary says.

He says the Forest Service will look at reopening the East Glacier Trail in about a week. In the meantime, Neary says trail users should be extra cautious, and keep dogs leashed.

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