We had a surprise visitor last Saturday evening in the hotel lobby. A yearling black bear found its way through a window into the ladies’ room in the hotel lobby. Huge shoutout to Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks for keeping our guests safe, while recognizing what a once-in-a-lifetime experience it was. They were professional and safe, and provided a great opportunity for folks to learn a little bit about wildlife management.
Ashley and Britney at the Front Desk were busy checking in guests when they heard a loud thump against one of the lobby windows. It happened to be right in the corner where the Alaskan brown bear standing mount is. He put his paws on the window a few more times, but when the girls went outside and peeked around the corner to look, he appeared to have moved on.
Within a few minutes of their returning to the Front Desk, noises coming from the lobby ladies’ rest room seemed to indicate that he had actually found a hiding spot.
Ashley called 911 and deputies were dispatched. In the mean time, Chuck and Norm attempted to provide an exit path for the bear to make his own way out the door, but he was happily perched on the bathroom sink, and promptly went to sleep.
When Gallatin County Sheriff’s deputies arrived, they assessed the situation and quickly determined that it was best for the bear to be sedated and removed. This being a little outside the purview of a sheriff’s deputy, they called in a warden from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
The warden was located in Three Forks, MT, about an hour and a half away from Big Sky. As he made his way to Buck’s, equipped with a holding trap and the proper tranquilizing equipment, the deputies took up station at the bathroom window and at the door from the lobby.
The deputy outside was able to see the bear in the bathroom, and, using FaceTime on his phone, was able to share that view with the deputy (as well as the gathering crowd of hotel guests) inside. As the bear snoozed, the FWP warden arrived and ascertained that his best plan would be to sedate and remove the bear.
He prepared his first dose, and, reaching around through the bathroom door, delivered the sedative. After another dose and a ten minute wait, a loud ‘thump’ indicated the bear had fallen asleep. The warden was then able to carry the bear outside and to the waiting container. The bear had been seen recently moving through local neighborhoods, so the warden planned to move the bear to another location and release him.