Rangers in Glacier National Park euthanized a female grizzly bear this week after it apparently fell about 20 feet onto Going-to-the-Sun Road from a precipice in the Rim Rock area, the park announced Wednesday.
The grizzly was discovered partially paralyzed and lying on its back in the road at about 11:30 p.m. Sunday.
At first, they believed the bear had been hit by a car. But evidence on the road showed it had actually fallen from the area known as Rim Rock, one mile west of Logan Pass.
The narrow trail in that area hugs the cliff, and nervous hikers sometimes hold onto a rope attached to the rock. Several years ago, a hiker encountered a grizzly bear on the Rim Rock trail and the hiker climbed a few feet down the cliff to get out of the way.
In Sunday night’s incident, it appeared that the grizzly bear ventured onto the precipice and slipped. It suffered “significant trauma” in the fall, park officials said, including broken ribs, a dislocated hip and trauma to its thoracic vertebrae.
After talking with the park’s wildlife biologist, rangers euthanized the 5- to 7-year-old bear. It was not lactating, so apparently did not have cubs of the year, according to the park.
Glacier Park’s grizzly bear population numbers about 300 animals. The species is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, so the bear’s loss was reported to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Glacier Park is an essential piece of the species’ habitat in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, which covers about 9,000 square miles of northwestern Montana.