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Animals of Glacier National Park

Nora L. at Glacier National Park

For summer vacation my family and I went to Glacier National Park. We went on lots of hikes. While out on the trails, seeing wildlife is common. My family and I saw lots of different animals while in Glacier, here are just a few.

As we rounded the bend on one hike, there were some people ahead who had stopped to watching something. Once we were close enough to see, we realized that it was two moose! They were calmly grazing on the plant life on the side of the trail. My family and I watched them for a while until the bull moose stopped munching, puffed out his chest, and started huffing. We realized that that was not normal moose behavior and that we were too close. We went on our way down the trail and gave the moose some space.

Two moose at Glacier National Park Two moose at Glacier National Park

One of the hikes we took while at Glacier was up to a chalet at the top of a mountain. Waiting in the line for the outdoor latrine, there was a fuzzy, raccoon-like critter, called a marmot, licking the wooden bathroom door. It was standing up on its hind legs with its front paws glued to the door while it frantically licked away, leaving a slobbery wet splotch all over the door. We decided later that there must have been sweat on the door from people’s legs brushing against it, and the animal came to lick away the salt. Also, while at the chalet, we had a snack. As we ate, a little ground squirrel came out of the bushes wanting some of our food. My dad scared it away, but it came back over and over again. We finished eating and gathered up our stuff to make sure we didn’t drop any food, so that we wouldn’t feed it. These little critters can be cute, but human food is dangerous for them. We saw a lot of examples of how human behavior changed the natural setting of the animals.

Even back at our campsite we saw animals. Every evening a bear was aimlessly waddling around the campground, looking for food. It was just a black bear, but it was still dangerous. When the bear walked through, we cleaned up our food so that it had no reason to come near us. We kept the bear spray handy on the table so if it did come, we could scare it away. We then enjoyed watching it from a safe distance. Sometimes it was really funny how the other campers freaked out and chased the bear, either to scare it away or to get a better look. Once one person started honking the horn of their car to try and scare it away. The same night, a different person set off their car alarm, and it was hilarious, because it was in the middle of the ranger talk and everyone stood up on their bench to try and get a better look at what was going on. The ranger said he wasn’t as funny as the bear, but he hoped we’d stay at his talk. After doing these precautions, we kept us and the bear safe.

Some of the most interesting wildlife we saw at the park were the people. Some of them were being very dangerous or alarmingly stupid. We saw people running up to bears and moose to try and take “selfies” with them. Sometimes people in cars stopped suddenly on the road to get a better look at bears or other animals next to the road, causing the drivers behind them to have to swerve out of the way. There were even bad accidents caused this way while we were there, and people had to go to the hospital in helicopters. We saw people ignore “trail closed” signs and walk around on unstable ice over water. A lot of people had their bear spray strategically placed on their hip, but they hadn’t removed the zip tie that is part the packaging for it, so it was basically a useless thing they were carrying around. It wouldn’t work in a bear emergency because they hadn’t read the instructions for how to deploy it and they didn’t know how to use it. We also saw people embarking on long, strenuous hikes wearing flip flops and without any water or other supplies. As long as you pay attention to the rangers and the signs and make sure you are prepared, you will have a better time and a less chance of getting hurt on the trail.

We had a great uneventful trip, if you count a bear walking through the campsite every night, or every step along the trail you saw some critter, “uneventful.” By the end of our trip, I felt that seeing all the animals was the highlight of the trip.

Written by Girl Scouts River Valleys Press Corps member Nora L.

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