Bears are here!

Different bears; different attitudes
Eleanor Guerrero
CCN Senior Reporter
Thursday, August 1, 2019
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Photo by Kevin Owens
This grizzly was seen outside Red Lodge at West Fork Road. He is one of two in that area.

The tourists are here and so are the bears. Do not confuse the one with the other. We are bullish on tourists in town, but not on bears. That’s dangerous for the bears and the people, including the local residents. After long-rumored, it has been confirmed in recent sightings, that grizzlies come to visit the Red Lodge area as well as black bears. 

On Sunday evening, July 28, two large grizzlies were seen gamboling about on lower West Fork Road. That’s the road on the northwest side of town that splits left if you’re en route to the ski mountain. It is a common hiking entry to the Beartooth trails. Kevin Owens noted he saw two bears last week. “Took a drive up the West Fork yesterday evening. Saw quite a few large black bears in the high meadows. However, these two griz were down low. They were not afraid of humans, nor were they wearing collars. Hopefully, folks will take care before thinking about hiking, fishing or biking up the lower West Fork.”

Tourists should take note that these are a different type of animal, as our state biologists have told us, bred for generations on treeless plains, not forests, quick to defend, not to run up trees, like their black bear cousins. In fact, they’re not very fond of black bears either. 

As a general rule, however, it’s a good idea for us to keep out of both bears’ ways and to let them pass with great distance. If you see them getting annoyed at snapping photos or groups gathering to look, leave the scene quickly. It literally takes seconds for a big, burly looking bear to cross a field to get to you. Always carry bear spray but never put yourself willingly in a situation where you might have to use it. According to, a 1700 lb. grizzly can run 30 mph on flat land, faster downhill. He can run a football field length in 7 seconds. 

Many campers leave the Gateway City of Red Lodge and go on to Yellowstone National Park. Jackson Hole Radio News reports that as part of ongoing efforts to monitor the population of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, biologists with the National Park Service and Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team will be continuing scientific grizzly bear research operations in Yellowstone National Park through Oct. 31. According to the News, “This means team members will bait and capture bears at several remote sites within Yellowstone, anesthetize them, take scientific samples for study and then radio collar the bears.

None of the capture sites in the park will be located near any established hiking trails or backcountry campsites, and all capture sites will have posted warnings for the closure perimeter.

Potential access points will also be posted with warning signs for the closure area. Backcountry users who come upon any of these posted areas need to heed the warnings and stay out of the area.”

See Carbon County News on FB for two videos of these local grizzlies by Kevin Owens.