On Saturday afternoon, people gathered in front of the stage behind the Northern Lights Saloon for a Bear Fair. There were booths, demonstrations of electric fencing and bear spray, speakers, face painting for children, and costumed bears roaming around posing for pictures with participants.
The event was held to educate landowners and visitors about bear safety and living in bear country. The North Fork community has a reputation of being a place where humans live in harmony with grizzly bears. However, last year there were some incidents around Polebridge where bears got “food rewards.” When humans leave food and other attractants available, bears become habituated to human presence. This can lead to bear mortality and creates unsafe conditions for humans as well. “A fed bear is a dead bear.”
Bear Fair organizer, Flannery Coats, was thrilled by the several hundred people who attended the event.
The Bear Fair was organized by the North Fork Preservation Association and sponsored by the North Fork Landowners Association, the North Fork Trails Association, Polebridge Mercantile, and the Northern Lights Saloon. Representatives from Glacier National Park and Fish, Wildlife, & Parks were present to provide expertise.