Grizzly Bear Encounter at Avalanche Chute, Kootenay National Park

I was hiking up a gentle sloped trail in May with my 27 and 29 year old daughters. I guess we must have gained a lot of altitude because we came to a meadow with an avalanche chute at the other side.

We were in the trees at the edge of a 200′ meadow in a cirque.

Because the snow had just melted in the chute, I knew that animals eat there for tender vegetation. I didn’t say anything and we kept walking.

Then we came to the second chute, of which I again scanned the site for animals.

We kept walking and saw the third chute but this one still had snow on it and what I thought were two dark brown rocks on the bottom of the avalanche.

I kept watching it as we moved up the valley and as we got closer, both my youngest daughter and I said “bear’!

We could clearly see now that there was two wee cubs playing on the snow, climbing up a few feet and sliding down. But just below the cubs, on the brown grass and difficult to see, was the light colored mother grizzly.

We stood still and watched through the trees and the mother grizzly was now looking in our direction, but we were down wind of her. My older daughter though, was carrying a radio phone and there was crackling on the phone. We were about 300 feet from the grizzly bears.

We whispered that we would slowly back up and figured the mother could not see us, but she knew there was something there. We also were ready to climb a tree if we needed to. (My older daughter had, 5 years previously, been treed by a male territorial grizzly while working in the woods).

With apprehension we went back down the trail without incident.

We realize we added to the stress of the mother grizzly being in proximity, reported to the park office that the grizzly bears were there and suggested they close the trail for a period of time.

Comments for Grizzly Bear Encounter at Avalanche Chute, Kootenay National Park

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Sep 21, 2010



Closure advisable

by: Roland

“Grizzlies cover many miles every day in search of food. “
Yes. but grizzleys WITH cubs don’t travel quite as fast.

Aug 02, 2010



Closing a Trail after a Grizzly Bear has been Spotted Is Stupid

by: Anonymous

Closing a trail after a grizzly has been spotted is a ridiculous tactic in my opinion. Grizzlies cover many miles every day in search of food. Just because you see a bear in a particul spot does not mean it will be there a day later or even an hour later.

If you are hiking in grizzly country you need to be vigilant, cautious, and carry bear spray, and not rely on the Park Service closing a trail to protect you.

I have had the unpleasant and irritating experience of driving 1700 miles to Glacier Park only to find that the Park Service had closed my favorite trail because some weenie saw a bear and got scared and reported it, and asked them to close the trail.

I have also hiked many trails minutes after someone reported seeing a grizzly on that trail, without seeing the bear.

IMO closing a trail because a grizzly has been seen is a waste of time.

**Editor’s Note**

While you bring up a valid point that hikers must remain vigilant, cautious, and carry bear repellent in grizzly bear country, you are 100% wrong on every other account.

Sure, it sucks to have your favorite trail closed because of a grizzly bear spotting. But leaving a trail open because grizzly bears are in the area is very dangerous and unnecessarily exposes unsuspecting and dumb tourists.

Yes, grizzly bears do cover many miles everyday searching for food. Generally, Park Rangers close trails and campgrounds when a grizzly bear has been spotted and is occupying the area for a long time.

When they close a trail, I trust their judgment. They know more than you and I do.

For you to presume otherwise is incredibly naive and a dangerous mentality to have when exploring our National Parks.

Jul 26, 2010



More Wise Decision Making Than Luck

by: Perry

I disagree. I think that Margaret, while lucky to a certain extent, helped determine her own fate due to her wise decision making.
She kept her distance from the grizzly bears and rather than continue on her hike, decided to turn around.

These simple decisions may not seem like much or may seem like common sense to some, but grizzly bear attacks happen because people fail to make these wise decisions.

Based on the story though, there were other things Margaret could have done to further minimize her chances of a grizzly bear attack.

Find out more about hiking through grizzly bear habitat here.

Jul 26, 2010




by: Anonymous

You were very lucky and also cautious.

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