SAINT IGNATIUS – One of the greatest things about living in Montana is the abundance of wildlife.
While there’s some you want to avoid in person, there’s one Mission Valley family giving you the chance to get up close and personal with grizzly bears from the safety of your phone or computer.
”Blow your whistle! There you go!” said Bob Throft.
There’s good reason for that because if you are walking through his St. Ignatius property you are most likely not alone — it’s also home to grizzly bears.
Some may be just passing through but many spend their summer and fall here relaxing in the tall grass and brush or cooling off in the creek. Despite it being somewhat nerve-wracking Bob and his daughter Stacey Thoft–Plimmer decided it was time to start documenting their local tenants.
“It was in 2015 when we started seeing lots of grizzly bears so we said [that] we might as well start taking some pictures of them. Stacy and I have been at it — what is this our third or fourth year?" Bob said.
After setting up game cameras in several different spots they discovered there were more bears than they ever anticipated. The results were amazing and fun footage of the iconic beasts.
It was something they wanted to share with the community so, they turned to Facebook and created the "Mission Valley Montana Griz Cam" page.
”Basically kind of right away because we didn’t know how else to share what we were finding and we didn’t even realize what we were going to find. It was just a big experiment," Stacey said.
"Then we were getting some pretty fun pictures and Facebook was the easiest way to share it. People enjoy it. There’s people from all over the world that watch it," she added.
Everyone has their favorite spots.
”I like the culvert ones where they walk across the culvert…that’s my favorite. The balancing act. Scratch, Scratch, Scratch on the culvert. Yeah, that’s pretty good stuff," Bob said.
"The rubbing tree for sure that we were just at where the two cubs use it and then the sow was there with them too," Stacey added. That’s a really good one."
But, getting to these spots can be tricky.
”We make a lot of noise. Yeah, and we shut our machines off so we can hear them. We pull our cameras out of the brush and try to keep them in more open areas so your not going into a brush patch to check one because that’s not a good idea," Bob said. "They don’t want us anymore than we want them."
"We only carry bear spray we quit carrying a gun a lot time ago," Stacey told MTN News.
Setting up those cameras is no easy task either.
”We are moving them around about every week…we come through and pull the cards," Bob explained. "If there is a new bear trail going on we move them. Just trying to get it right," the two laughed.
"It’s hard. It’s really hard. It’s disappointing when you get a really good half of a bear!" Stacey laughed. "It’s got really good legs!”
Then of course you have some who may just like the cameras a little too much.
”So they will come bat them around but if I Lysol them — so far we’ve been good," Stacey said. "The one I lost didn’t have Lysol….they don’t like blue can Lysol!”
That’s a goof thing since Bob and Stacey need to keep those cameras running as their Facebook page gets more popular by the day.
Click here to check out the Mission Valley Montana Griz Cam.