posted: July 5th, 2016 | by:Bert
©Bert Gildart: On June 29 two men riding mountain bikes just south of West Glacier, Montana, rounded a bend and surprised what officials now believe was a grizzly bear. To make matters worse, Brad Treat, actually collided with the bear, and the alarmed bruin knocked Treat from his bike and then attacked. According to one report, Treat was going so fast he couldn’t stop. Tragically, the bear killed the 38-year-old man who was employed as a law enforcement officer by the Flathead National Forest. Treat was a former Glacier Park ranger. The other man, escaped attack and scurried for help.
L to R: Search for the bear that mauled Treat has not been successful, and officials have called off the search.
Glacier has about 500 grizzly bears and though we probably hike by many, we generally don’t know they’re watching us.
Immediately after the mauling, authorities initiated a search for the bear, but, now, after a week, the search has ended. Again, cautionary bear statements abound and some are recalling that the event had been predicted, most notably by Dr. Stephen Herrero, a professor at the University of Alberta. Herrero, who is recognized as one of the world’s most renowned bear experts cautioned years ago that mountain bikes could be dangerous.
BIKES CAN BE DANGEROUS
“Mountain bikes,” said Dr. Herrero, “are potentially very dangerous. They approach quietly and fast, and bears don’t like surprises.” Herrero, who is also a mountain bike rider, emphasized that riders should carry bear spray and make noise.”
L to R: Invariably, the old cliche holds: A fed bear is a dead bear. If a grizzly bear exhibits signs of aggression, back away slowly.
These photographers intentionally intercepted the chosen route of this grizzly, forcing it onto the trail to Iceberg Lake in Glacier. The situation could have become dangerous.
That message strikes home and in the future I’ll do just that. When rounding a bend I’ll shout. As well, I’ll focus more on the trail rather than on the beauty which generally surrounds me. And I’ll slow down, realizing now that I might collide with a family as well as a bear. Yes, in the past I’ve been guilty.
FATAL MAULINGS DATE TO 1967
I’m not certain whether Treat’s death will be included in the tally of Glacier Park bear maulings, but to date the park says there have been 10 fatal maulings within its boundaries. The first of these occurred in 1967 when two different bears killed two people in different parts of the park in the course of a single night. Those attacks became the subject of a 1969 book by Jack Olsen titled “Night of the Grizzlies,” and later a documentary by the same name. Those attacks can be linked directly to garbage, as I emphasized in a story I later wrote for Smithsonian magazine.
In addition, I have written many other bear stories and am providing links to postings about bear behavior — and about some of the tragedies.
(Note: all these bear images were made with an 800mm lens. I don’t search for bears, but am prepared to photograph bears using a tripod-mounted camera setup.)
More Bear Postings:
4th ed. Autographed by the Authors
Hiking Shenandoah National Park
Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.
Big Sky Country is beautiful
Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State
Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.
$16.95 + Autographed Copy
What makes Glacier, Glacier?
Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent
Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons
$16.95 + Autographed Copy