Bears and Breweries: The Deadly Mix Along Montana’s Railways
Thanksgiving is coming up next week. It can be a bit stressful for everyone. Shopping, cooking, cleaning. Throw in the seating arrangement for the big day. Will that weird uncle say something odd to your finance? What will that weird cousin talk about? I have a conversation starter for you! Bears getting drunk and killed in Montana. Yup...it is happening.
Cowboy State Daily has pointed out a concerning trend in the vicinity of Glacier National Park in Montana since 1980. Along a dangerous rail line, 63 grizzly bears have lost their lives. This worrying trend is primarily the result of bears becoming attracted to fermenting grain that has spilled off railcars. Snow and rainwater mixed with the spilled grain produce an accidental "brewery" for bears. Attracted by the alluring food, the bears frequently attempt inebriatedly to outrun approaching trains, which results in tragic crashes. 2019 was the worst year ever recorded for grizzly deaths. Three grizzlies have already passed away this year, making it the worst year on record.
The Northern Continental Divide group, which is focused in the untamed mountains of northwest Montana, includes the grizzly population that is impacted. Even though these bears are currently separate from the grizzlies of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, there is a chance that they will mix, which is crucial for the long-term survival of the species.
On the other hand, car crashes pose a distinct hazard to grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. This year, automobiles have claimed the lives of six grizzlies, which presents a serious obstacle to their conservation.
The problem in the vicinity of Glacier Park highlights the necessity of heightened safety protocols. Wildlife specialists contend that not enough is being done to protect bears from train-related fatalities, despite the seriousness of the issue. There have been claims that the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) train company's hesitation is related to the possibility of delisting grizzlies from the endangered species list, which has led to criticism of the corporation for not acting quickly enough.
The use of noise-making devices in designated "kill zones" in response to trains is one suggested option, but the effectiveness in the case of inebriated bears may be called into doubt. Other recommendations include lessening the weight in train cars, steering clear of certain types of weather that raise the danger of a disaster, and putting precise measures in place to limit damage.
Little has been done to improve the situation as it is, and grizzly bear deaths along this rail line length continue. Striking a balance between protecting the environment and attending to railway operations' issues is the difficult part.
LOOK: Best counties to raise a family in Montana
Gallery Credit: Stacker
LOOK: 10 Places where people in Montana are moving to most
Gallery Credit: Stacker