'Aggressive' deer sparks first Glacier gun incident
By CHRIS PETERSON / Hungry Horse News
Published: Wednesday, June 23, 2010 9:26 AM PDT
Glacier National Park has had its first incident of a gun being fired inside the Park boundaries since carrying them was legalized.
On June 12, a woman was hiking on the Going-to-the-Sun Road near Logan Creek when she encountered what she claimed was an aggressive whitetail deer, said Park spokeswoman Amy Vanderbilt.
The deer continued to her approach her and initially she discharged pepper spray toward the animal but was apparently too far away.
Then she pulled out a .357 magnum handgun and fired it into the ground away from the animal to scare it away. The deer hopped into the bushes, but still stayed fairly close.
Deer in Glacier are attracted to salt, including sweat from humans that gets on clothing and packs.
The woman later reported the incident to a ranger. She was not cited, but was given a written warning. Discharging a firearm in the Park is illegal unless a person could expect "imminent" danger.
Firearms were allowed in National Parks beginning this year by Congress. Though controversial, it had the full support of Montana's congressional delegation.
Since the law was passed, a grizzly bear has been shot and killed in Denali National Park after a hiker had a run-in with the bruin. That case is under investigation.
In Glacier, it is not uncommon to run into armed hikers, most of whom are carrying pistols on their hips.
Glacier officials still remind hikers and visitors that bear pepper spray is the most effective and safe deterrent to a bear attack. In all case studies, the use of bear pepper spray in close encounters with a grizzly or other bears has resulted in both the bear's survival and the person's survival.