“Don’t feed the bears.”
You’ve likely heard and read this warning, especially if you do much camping.
But many don’t realize there was a specific incident that prompted those warnings.
It was a night of claws and fangs…the night of the Grizzlies.
Table of Contents
August 12, 1967
Michele Koons and a small group of friends decided to go camping at Trout Lake in Glacier National Park.
Koons was a 19-year-old from San Diego, California, and worked in the park’s gift shop during the summer.
As the group headed out to the lake they passed hikers going the opposite direction who warned them about bears in the area.
But within Glacier National Park, there hadn’t ever been a bear attack. So, the campers continued on.
Miles away Roy Ducat and Julie Hegelson camped near the Granite Park Chalet, a hotel within Glacier National.
Similar to Koons and her friends, the couple received warnings from a passerby about the threat of bears. But decided to continue with their camping plans anyway.
The Attack at Trout Lake
Shortly after setting up camp at the lake, an emaciated grizzly bear approached Koons and her fellow campers.
It stole some food but the group headed towards the shore to set up a campfire. They hoped the fire would keep the bear away.
Initially, it seemed to work. But, the group fell asleep, and with the fire left untended, it died out.
The grizzly returned.
One camper was awakened to the feeling of a bear snout sniffing their scalp. That camper laid motionless and the bear moved on, stopping at Koons.
Startled by the bear’s presence, Koons woke up screaming.
Her screaming soon woke everybody else who darted in different directions. But Koons couldn’t follow because her sleeping bag zipper was stuck.
Her friends watched in horror as the grizzly ripped her arm off then dragged her into the woods.
The campers spent the night in the trees until dawn arrived and then went looking for help.
The Attack at the Chalet
Roy Ducat and Julie Hegelson fell asleep near the chalet but were woken by a bear rummaging nearby. Hegelson cautioned Ducat to not move. However, it doesn’t matter.
The grizzly pounced on Ducat, tearing into the teenage boy with claws and teeth. Ducat laid as still as possible throughout the entire attack in an attempt to play dead.
And apparently, it worked for Ducat…but the bear then pounced on his girlfriend.
Ducat sprinted back to the chalet for help. And when rescuers arrived, they found Hegelson 400-feet away in the woods suffering from shock and severe blood loss.
Unfortunately, she died before the medivac arrived.
A New Hunt
After they examined the attack site, Glacier National Park Ranger Bert Gildart and a fellow ranger stood outside their ranger station…when a grizzly approached them.
Retreating to the station, the duo grabbed their rifles.
They shot, and the grizzly dropped.
Meanwhile, back at the chalet, Ranger Dave Shea spots another grizzly.
He cocked his .300 H&H Magnum and 11 shots later, the grizzly was dead.
Don’t Feed the Bears
Immediately following the attacks, people began questioning why the bears attacked.
And it didn’t take long for the answer to appear.
Regular trash “bear feeds” were used by rangers to attract tourists.
The chalet fed food scraps to bears and the campgrounds were noted for being covered in human-created garbage.
As a result, the grizzlies learned to associate humans with food.
And this is why parks now insist campers store food, trash, toiletries, and other things to prevent attracting bears.
Want to read more about the night of the grizzlies? I highly recommend checking out Jack Olsen’s book of the same title.
This is a new style of article for Pew Pew Tactical, if you liked it — let us know in the comments! If you didn’t enjoy it…well phooey. To catch up on previous Pictures from History, click on over to our History Category.