It is really spring when local talk turns to bears and the road. For sure the bears are up and awake. There have been numerous reports of folks seeing a nonthreatening grizzly bear. Probably the same bear being seen by multiple people in several different locations.
Most North Forkers believe the often seen griz is Oatie, who has never been in trouble but is obviously not much afraid of people. Oatie received his name from feeding in an oatfield south of Polebridge for several weeks. His presence in the open field attracted a ton of humans watching him and edging ever closer to take photographs. I stopped there one day when there were nearly two dozen vehicles parked along both sides of the North Fork Road.
Almost everyone got out of their vehicles and stood on the edge of the road just watching or taking long range photos. A few brave souls walked into the field to get better pictures. I thought they were more dumb than brave, especially when they whistled or yelled, trying to get Oatie to lift his head so they could get a better picture. Oatie ignored all of the
activity and just continued eating with his nose down to the ground.
It all ended safely, but Oatie is now convinced that humans are not a threat and I really hope he continues to ignore people and does not stumble into a food source provided by people. Most habituated bears do not die of natural causes.
The other big topic is Glacier Park which seems to love, or can’t avoid, controversy. Current discussions revolve around the new two-dollar ticket reservations to enter the Park even on Camas Road.
Purpose, supposedly, is to avoid traffic backing up into West Glacier and reduce congestion on the Going to the Sun Road.
Many North Forkers, with season passes go to town via the Camas Road to avoid the rough lower end of the North Fork Road. I am one of them. I usually come north from Columbia Falls to avoid the long lines at West Glacier.
North Forkers do not like the new policy since they do not contribute to Logan Pass congestion and consider the Park to be an inconsiderate neighbor (see Allen Chrisman’s letter in last week’s HHN).
I suspect that Glacier is concerned about locals avoiding West Glacier to go on the Sun highway. Personally, I think they should and could speed up the entry process at West Glacier and get more Logan Pass tourists on the buses by limiting private vehicles. For sure I will just stay out of the Park.
What do you think?
Larry Wilson's North Fork Views appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.