Glacier NP Black Bear Shot By Rangers

Great Falls Tribune, Bear Hunting Magazine

Rangers trying to haze a black bear from the St. Mary area on the east side of Glacier National Park accidentally killed the bear with a "cracker shell" last week.

Glacier National Park staff stated that the rangers were trying to keep the bear from becoming habituated to people when they attempted to haze it away from the area with the common bear management aversive conditioning tool.

Cracker shells, which are fired from a 12-gauge shotgun and make a loud bang when they explode, are intended to scare the animal, Glacier National Park spokeswoman Amy Vanderbilt said.

However, during a follow-up the day after the hazing attempt, a ranger found the bear dead. A necropsy (animal autopsy) determined the cracker shell entered the bear's body before exploding.

GNP plans to conduct a Board of Review aimed at recommending management actions and/or improving strategies and tactics, according to a park news release.

The hazing of bears by using cracker shells is one of several tools used by park rangers as aversive conditioning techniques under Glacier National Park's bear management plan and guidelines.

Vanderbilt said she was not sure how close the ranger was to the bear when he fired the shot.

"That's why we are doing the Board of Review," she said. "We want to find out what went wrong. Did the shell ricochet? The intent is for the shell to explode in the vicinity of the animal."

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