Signal Mountain closure map

Park rangers continue to observe bears foraging berries along the shoulders of Signal Mountain Road, which remains closed to public access until further notice.

The cause of the closure was a triple-whammy conflict day Aug. 13. A park visitor called in an eyewitness account of a fellow visitor feeding an undisclosed item to a bear, and twice that same day overcrowded bears bluff-charged people.

A grizzly sow with two cubs — likely the famous animal known as 610 — was involved in the first altercation, which took place while the park’s volunteer Wildlife Brigade was trying to keep the scene in order.

“The volunteers were outside their vehicle, and the grizzly bear was on the other side of the road,” Teton park spokeswoman Denise Germann said. “The bear started huffing a bit, and charged the wildlife volunteers.”

The brigadiers darted to the other side of their vehicle to avert the testy grizzly, Germann said. There wasn’t even time for the volunteers to unholster their bear spray before the bruin called off its pursuit.

The other bluff charge, reported the same day, involved a black bear.

“We had a black bear that got agitated when visitors got too close to the bear when it was trying to feed on berries,” Germann said.

Signal Mountain Road’s “bear jams” are almost impossible to police, she said, because of the steep, tight, curvy nature of the road.

It’s a similar situation to Moose-Wilson Road, which closes routinely when grizzlies are active in the corridor.

No progress has been made on finding the person who supposedly fed a Signal Mountain bear, partly because there was almost no information to go on.

“There’s no reason to doubt the individuals that gave us the information,” Germann said, “but we were unable to follow up on it.”

Germann was unsure when the dead-end road to Signal’s summit will reopen. The hiking trail to the top, as well as the surrounding area, is also off-limits.

“We wanted to give the bears space to be able to forage on those berries,” Germann said. “There are still bears in the area.”

Contact Mike Koshmrl at 732-7067 or env@jhnewsandguide.com.

Mike has reported on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem's wildlife, wildlands and the agencies that manage them for 7 years. A native Minnesotan, he arrived in the West to study environmental journalism at the University of Colorado.

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