BIG SKY, Mont. — Staff members at a Montana lodge got quite a surprise Saturday night when they found a young black bear lounging in a restroom inside the lobby.
O’Connor told the network the window was too high for the yearling to climb back out. The animal, estimated to be between 1 and 2 years old, didn’t seem to mind.
"He just hung out on the counter where it was cool, and literally went to sleep," O'Connor told CNN.
"Huge shout-out 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," the post read.
The post described officials as professional and safe and said they “provided a great opportunity for folks to learn a little bit about wildlife management.”
Sheriff's Office officials, in turn, posted Buck's T-4 Lodge's video on the department's own Facebook page.
"Teamwork keeps people and wildlife safe," the post read.
State FWP officials wrote that the bear appeared comfortable napping in the restroom and showed no signs of leaving.
"Game wardens, along with Gallatin County sheriff's deputies, tranquilized the bear and carried it safely outside. FWP plans to release the young bear in a more remote area," authorities said on social media.
No one was injured in the incident and the hotel reported no damage.
Watch the video from Buck's T-4 Lodge below.
Followers on the lodge's Facebook page joked that the bear had heard the lodge was a good place to get a good meal and a solid night's rest.
“Nice digs, little bear,” one woman wrote. “I have stayed there a few times myself.”
“Bears need reservations, too,” a man wrote.
Others talked about what a shock it must have been to the person who first found the bear.
“I would have to forget what I went in there for,” a woman wrote.
O'Connor told CNN the lodge's proximity to Yellowstone National Park makes encounters with a variety of wildlife the norm. Bear encounters, however, can be potentially dangerous.
The FWP website warns that bears who become too familiar with people, or who are fed by humans, will end up euthanized nine out of 10 times because they can no longer fend properly for themselves in the wild. It is against Montana law to intentionally or inadvertently feed bears.
"Sometimes people find young bears and other species and think they are abandoned or orphaned. This is often not true," the agency's website says. "If you care, leave them there."
Wildlife officials also offer tips for how to stay safe during a bear encounter:
Carry bear pepper spray at the ready and know how to use it;
Always maintain a safe distance from bears;
Immediately pick up small children and stay in a group;
Behave in a non-threatening manner;
Do not make eye contact;
Throw a backpack or other object, like a hat or gloves, on the ground as you move away to distract the animal’s attention;
Slowly back away, if possible. Keep a distance of at least 100 yards;
Do not run from a bear. Running may trigger a natural predator-prey attack response and a grizzly can easily outrun the world’s fastest human; and
Don’t climb a tree unless you are sure you can get at least 10 feet from the ground before the bear reaches you. Experts recommend against climbing trees in most situations.
Montana law allows campers to use a gun on a black or grizzly bear, but only in self-defense. The killing is required to be reported to authorities within 72 hours.
If attacked while camping, use whatever you have handy as a defense weapon or deterrent.
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