RED LODGE — The Greenough Lake campground and trail remained closed Tuesday after the U.S. Forest Service Beartooth Ranger District temporarily closed all entry to the lake and Parkside Trail area due to grizzly bear activity reported within the past week.
Daniel McHugh with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said the bear wasn't acting aggressively but was displaying defensive behavior because of the people in its space.
"It was approached by people. When they approached it, they didn’t follow some of the basic bear safety," McHugh said. "So this bear, in this case, is definitely hanging out in the area and eating natural food, but is not showing any abnormal behavior.”
McHugh has been monitoring the bear's activity with USFS Beartooth Ranger District.
“In this scenario, the bear hasn’t done anything to warrant any sort of trapping effort. So, we’re just kind of monitoring the situation. We kind of expect that the bear will move on,” McHugh said.
Acting Beartooth District Ranger Amy Haas said the cause for the closure was the number of people recreating in the Greenough area.
“Come Sunday, we had about 40 vehicles out here. So, with that, we thought the concentration of that, with the bear, that we should put a closure order in,” Haas said. “Pretty rare that we actually close an area. We usually do signage and public information.”
Haas said they anticipate having the area closed for at least a week as the bear moves through. According to Haas, the Red Lodge area has had multiple reports of bear sightings this year.
"Many reports of bear sightings in different areas. (This case) just so happens to be like in a concentrated area of high public recreation at this time,” she said.
McHugh said to always be carrying bear spray, traveling in groups and making noise whenever on trail systems.
“Grizzly bears are expanding their range throughout the state… Predator populations tend to not move up and down as much, but they do follow their food availability so the more food there is, the more predators are able to be on the landscape,” McHugh said.