GALLATIN COUNTY - People recreating near Eldridge Creek up the Taylor’s Fork drainage in Gallatin County are being warned about an injured bear in the area.
Custer Gallatin National Forest says the bear was injured on September 14 through an encounter with two hunters at the head of Eldridge Creek.
The encounter happened just east of the bentonite sluff “blow out” that drains into Lightning Creek, roughly 1.25 miles east of Lightning Trailhead.
Hunters in the area heard the bear charging them, and one fired rounds from a handgun in the direction of the bear.
The bear got within a few feet of the hunter before turning and running away.
Forest Service and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials have investigated the site and found several drops of blood, however, the wounded bear has not been located.
Warning signs have been posted by the Forest Service at Eldridge, Wapiti and Lightning Creek trail access points and they will continue working with Montana FWP to search for the bear and monitor the situation.
At this time there are no closures in place.
Custer Gallatin National Forest gave the following general safety tips to keep in mind when visiting bear country:
• Follow the Custer Gallatin Food Storage Order and appropriately store all attractants.
• Carry bear spray, know how to use it and have it readily available.
• Avoid hiking or hunting alone if possible and never let your small children run ahead or wander.
• Make noise by talking, clapping and singing to avoid startling a bear.
• Stick to the trail to minimize potential bear encounters.
• Be aware of your surroundings. Use caution and make plenty of noise and avoid bear food sources. If you smell something dead or see birds circling overhead avoid the area.
• Hike during the daylight hours. Bears are most active during early morning and late afternoon hours.
• Anyone moving quickly (i.e. mountain bikers, trail runners) is at a higher risk of surprising a bear.
• Watch for bear signs – tracks, scat and markings on trees are all good indicators.
• If you encounter a bear, never run away.