WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — Runners are gaining ground on wildlife photographers as the most likely people to be mauled by a grizzly bear in the Northern Rockies.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s grizzly bear recovery coordinator says long-distance trail runners are approaching photographers as the backcountry group most likely to be badly hurt in an animal encounter.
Chris Servheen told the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee on Thursday that running in grizzly country at dawn and dusk is risky, but he is not interested in proposing regulations to restrict the sport.
The Missoulian reports that committee members expressed concern about structured races in bear territory, in particular the growing interest in competitive ultra-marathons that send runners 100 miles along mountain trails. Members cited blog posts from several runners who recounted their disorientation and punch-drunk condition as they headed into nightfall.
The committee is composed of federal officials and representatives of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Washington, Alberta and British Columbia.