The Moose-Wilson Road in Grand Teton National Park has re-opened after black bear activity on the road has subsided. Through traffic on the scenic road had been halted to allow for bear activity in the area.
Grand Teton National Park managers initiated a temporary closure of the road on September 9. After several patrols of the road in the last 24 hours indicated that bear activity had substantially decreased, managers made the decision to re-open the road, according to a statement released by the park’s public affairs office.
Any changes to the status of the road will be updated on the road condition information line at 307.739.3682 and on the park website, www.nps.gov/grte, under the “alerts” tab.
The Moose-Wilson Road was first closed from the Murie Ranch Road junction to the Granite Canyon trailhead on September 9. The closure was put in place to protect numerous black bears that were feeding on hawthorn berries along the road. The bears were foraging on the berries during a period of hyperphagia when they build up fat reserves in preparation for denning. A below-average huckleberry crop may have contributed to the bears’ heavier than normal use of the area.
As park staff monitored the closure, it was determined that the southern portion of the road from Granite Canyon trailhead to the Death Canyon Road junction could be re-opened on September 11. The concentration of bears around that portion of the road was low enough that staff could safely manage the human-bear interface. However, the concentration of bears on the northern section of the road remained high.
Staff monitoring the remaining closure on the northern segment of the road observed that the concentration of bears in the area has declined significantly over the past 24 hours. The hawthorn berries appeared to have been mostly consumed by bears and birds or had fallen to the ground. Though bears may still be observed in the area, their concentration has returned to a level that park staff can safely manage any bear-related traffic jams, or “bear jams,” that occur. The Moose-Wilson Road, as well as the trails that begin at the Laurance S. Rockefeller (LSR) Preserve Center, was therefor re-opened.
Rangers remind visitors who are visiting the Moose-Wilson corridor and all areas of the park to “Be Bear Aware.” Visitors are required to maintain a distance of at least 100 yards from bears. Individuals venturing into the park’s backcountry should always carry bear spray, as well as make noise and travel in groups. Conditions may require the road to be closed at any time. A dust abatement treatment that had been scheduled for September 15 through 17 had to be postponed due to wet conditions. That treatment will take place later this fall.