LOLO – Lolo residents have been seeing an increase in bear activity ever since the animals awoke from hibernation.
One reason bear activity is becoming so prevalent in Lolo is because of last year’s fire season.
"Last year, with the fires, the whole community was evacuated, or parts of the community, and during that time they could not do any garbage pick-up. So we had almost a month, month-and-a-half of overflow of garbage along the highways, a lot of bears, a lot of bears," said Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Bear Manager James Jonkel.
Now those bears are waking up from hibernation and can remember where those easy food sources are.
"Lot of those bears came out of the den with that memory and went straight to the garbage," Jonkel said. "When they couldn’t find the garbage cans, they checked out houses. I mean, they’ve got a better understanding of the terrain then we do. They keep track of the landscape and the terrain and the tributaries and springs. Yeah, they have got it all figured out."
FWP has set three traps in the Lolo area for elevated bear activity, but is trying to avoid putting out any more. They also won’t set traps until all attractants in the area have been put away and hidden from bears.
“If you’ve got a bird feeder swinging, if you’ve got a garbage can outside that’s getting hit, we won’t set a trap until you remove all your attractants. It just makes no sense to set traps on top of cans of garbage or bird feeders," Jonkel said. "As soon as folks are willing to contain everything then we will set up a trap, but half the time the bears just move on.”
The best thing that you can do to prevent any issues with bears is to hide and secure anything that might attract them.
“It’s really not a bear problem. It’s a human attractant problem and if the human attractants aren’t there, we find that we don’t have the bear problems."
FWP says that you can go to missoulabears.org to learn more about attractants. You can also use the website to report any bear activity you see.