Friday, June 25, 2021

Grizzlies and flooding

| June 9, 2021 5:40 AM

In late May and early June, North Forkers can often be found talking about two usual spring topics. Grizzly bears and spring run off— or more specifically the possibility of a flood. This year is no exception. I am no scientist, but it seems to me there are more grizzlies every year. When I first became a seasonal North Fork resident in 1948 at the age of 11, we never saw a grizzly. I was allowed to build a lean-to in the woods and spent many a night snuggled up there with our black labrador retriever. Never gave a thought about bears although we did have a close encounter with a porcupine. My only complaint in those days was that I was not allowed to have a campfire.

I was 15 or 16 before I saw a grizzly and that was just a fleeting glimpse. In those early years I killed several porcupines but continued to sleep outside quite often.

How things have changed! I have not seen a porcupine in years —I think it was 1964 during the flood. Grizzly Bears! Wow! Today everyone is sighting multiple grizzlies. Oatie is semi-famous and so is Monica. Neither have gotten into trouble, but Monica is maybe the mother of triplets.

Both have been seen around homes eating grass and so have multiple other bears. Almost every North Forker has photos of more than one grizzly. This, of course, puts the bears at risk. The risk may be short term or long term depending on the bear.

Increased numbers of bears becoming habituated combined with more and more humans means we have to be more and more careful with attractants. Keep a clean camp/cabin! Keep garbage, pet food, and any other food inside and be very careful with bird feeders. I don’t think pre-teen humans should sleep out if bears have been in the yard during daylight.

Flooding is a different kind of threat. Only really dangerous if you build in the flood plain or go out on the river improperly equipped or inexperienced. Still, road closures and low land flooding can be inconvenient and even cause minor to major disruption in our lives. This year looks like a good run off. Fast water which is very cold makes for fun as long as you are careful. I talked to floaters last Thursday who commented on how quick a trip they made from the border to Polebridge. In the middle of August that is a long day of floating, or even an overnighter. Just a fast trip in early June and the fishing is poor.

Even in the spring we also have other activities. Well over a hundred folks enjoyed pizza at Flan and Dan’s Home Ranch store and I have heard good things about

the food at the Northern Lights. The Mercantile has been open for a while and continues their famous baked goods and now there is a Sasquatch food truck. All told North Forkers and visitors have several food options, even if Glacier Park management seems to be in experimental mode. At least boats can be inspected at Polebridge, not just Apgar. Good thing if you don’t have a “ticket” for Going-to-the Sun.

It will be another fun-filled, action packed summer on the North Fork.

Larry Wilson's North Fork Views appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.