In Glacier National Park, Montana intoxicated grizzly bears are colliding with thundering trains. The lethal recipe involves spilled grain, mixed with the unforgiving elements of snow and rain, creating a deadly elixir that entices bears while dulling their survival instincts. The result? A grim spectacle of these mighty creatures rendered sluggish and unable to evade the oncoming juggernauts.
Since 1980, the casualty count has steadily climbed, with a staggering 63 grizzly bears meeting their end along the rail line that carves through the treacherous terrain of Marias Pass and the Great Bear Wilderness, as reported by the relentless folks at the Cowboy State Daily.
This year has seen the demise of three bears already. 2019 marked the worst year on record with eight grizzlies succumbing to the brutal collisions. Notably, the victims hail from the Northern Continental Divide grizzly population, a group that roams the wilds of the Lower 48.
Spilled grain is a tempting treat for wild bears. When combined with the moisture from snow and rain, this seemingly innocuous spill morphs into a makeshift brewery, turning the wild terrain into a deadly trap for unsuspecting grizzlies. In their intoxicated stupor, these bears might choose to doze off right on the tracks or linger until a high-speed locomotive approaches, triggering futile and tragic attempts to outrun the relentless force.
However, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) has been dragging its feet, resisting potential solutions like noise-making devices that could alert bears to the impending danger, especially in areas like the vast expanse between Marias Pass and the Great Bear Wilderness.
Alternative proposals, such as loading train cars less densely or refraining from running trains under adverse weather conditions, have been met with staunch opposition from BNSF.