PABLO – It’s that time of year again. Warmer temperatures and new vegetation are being accompanied by bears emerging from dens on the Flathead Reservation.
Bears are readily drawn to items like garbage, pet foods, bird feeders, and attractants like chickens, and other small livestock often resulting in bear and human conflicts. Whenever someone makes food or attractants available to bears, they create situations that invite bears to become problem bears, which could ultimately endanger someone or cause the bear’s elimination.
Domestic chickens and other small livestock like pigs, goats, and sheep have been a particularly serious problem the past few years. Three family groups of grizzly bears have been removed from the population on the Reservation and sent to zoos, according to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe officials.
In one case, the entire family group – a female grizzly bear and two cubs – were taken by a zoo. In the second instance, the adult female grizzly bear was euthanized and two of her three yearling cubs were taken by a zoo. In the third case, the adult female was euthanized and her two cubs were placed in a zoo.
In all of these incidents, Tribal Wildlife Biologists determined that an effective electric fence would have prevented the bear conflict. Bear managers request that anyone with small livestock or chickens install an electric fence to protect and secure attractants.
Defenders of Wildlife have an electric fence incentive program for just this issue, so there is every reason for people with small livestock to have an electric fence.
"One key aspect of the public education program is providing the public with information on ways to eliminate bear attractants," commented Tribal Wildlife Program Bear Biologist Stacy Courville.
Additional information on securing bear attractants and preventing conflicts can be found by calling the Tribal Wildlife Management Program at (406) 883-2888.
Another potential for human- bear conflict is recreating in bear country and Courville highly encourages people to carry bear spray that’s readily accessible.
If a grizzly bear is observed, please report it to the Wildlife Management Program at (406) 883-2888, report bear conflicts or problems to Tribal Law & Order Dispatch at (406) 675-4700. When calling regarding a bear, always tell Tribal Dispatch you are calling about a bear problem or conflict.