Yesterday morning, a woman was found deceased on the Buttermilk Trail west of West Yellowstone following an apparent bear encounter. Investigators confirmed grizzly bear tracks at the scene, and the investigation is ongoing.
Emergency Closure in Place West of West Yellowstone to Address Bear/Human Safety Concerns and Tips to Avoid Bear Encounters
In response to increasing bear activity that has created unsafe conditions for humans, the Custer Gallatin National Forest, Hebgen Lake Ranger District has taken urgent action by implementing an emergency area closure west of the community of West Yellowstone, Montana. The closure will be in effect from July 22, 2023, until August 25, 2023, or until it is deemed safe to reopen, and during this time, all human entry is strictly prohibited.
The Buttermilk Area Closure, located approximately 8 miles west of West Yellowstone, encompasses the Continental Divide Trail (Forest Service Trail #116) from the trailhead near Targhee Pass on Highway 20, extending south to the confluence with Cream Creek Road (Forest Service Road #1703 and Road 484). The closure boundary follows these roads to the east and north, returning to the Forest Service boundary just south of Highway 20 and then west to connect with the Continental Divide Trail (Trail #116).
As they prioritize the safety of our visitors and the well-being of local wildlife, it is crucial to remember essential bear safety practices while traveling through bear country. Here are some important tips to avoid bear encounters:
- Carry Bear Spray: Always have bear spray on hand and make sure it is easily accessible. Familiarize yourself with how to use it effectively.
- Travel in Groups: When hiking or exploring the outdoors, try to travel with others. Bears are less likely to approach larger groups of people.
- Make Noise: While hiking or moving through dense vegetation, make plenty of noise to alert bears of your presence. This can prevent surprising them and reduce the risk of sudden encounters.
- Watch for Signs of Bears: Be attentive to your surroundings and keep an eye out for signs of bear activity, such as tracks, scat, or overturned rocks.
- Hike During Daylight Hours: Bears are generally more active during dawn and dusk, so plan your activities during daylight hours to reduce the chances of encounters.
- Maintain a Clean Camp: When camping, ensure that all food, trash, and scented items are stored securely in bear-resistant containers. A clean campsite minimizes the likelihood of attracting bears.
By following these safety measures, you can play a significant role in protecting yourself, fellow forest users, and the wildlife inhabiting this area.
For more detailed information about the area closure, please visit us online at Custer Gallatin National Forest or CLICK HERE. If you need additional information or have any concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact the Hebgen Lake Ranger District at (406) 823-6961. Your cooperation and awareness are vital in maintaining a safe and harmonious environment for everyone.
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