GREAT FALLS – A male grizzly bear died after being hit by a train this week on the railroad tracks near West Glacier.
A press release from Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks on Friday says the two-year-old bear was wearing a GPS radio collar, which notified FWP of the bear’s location near Nyack Flats. The collision happened on Monday evening.
FWP personnel retrieved the carcass the next morning and confirmed the cause of death through a necropsy. FWP notified BNSF Railway and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
The bear was captured and fitted with a radio collar at the end of May east of Bigfork and it was then relocated to the east side of Hungry Horse Reservoir.
So far this year, 33 grizzly bear mortalities have been identified in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem due to a variety of circumstances, including management action, collisions, and augmentation.
Bears are classified as mortalities if they die, are taken to an accredited zoo or research facility if possible, or euthanized. One to two bears are annually targeted for relocation to the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem as part of an augmentation program.
The NCDE is home to more than 1,000 grizzly bears. The NCDE is a designated grizzly bear recovery zone that spans Glacier National Park, parts of the Flathead and Blackfeet Indian Reservations, parts of five national forests, and a significant amount of state and private lands.
FWP maintains a population monitoring program and follows protocols and management objectives that are designed to maintain a healthy grizzly bear population in the NCDE. This includes tracking known mortalities, whether bears are killed or removed from the population for a variety of circumstances, and notifying the public.
Right now bears are seeking food sources before the winter denning season, and people are urged to reduce or secure attractants. FWP Region 1 has recently seen an uptick in reports of bears approaching food sources, such as fruit trees and garbage.
More safety information is available on the FWP website, fwp.mt.gov. Residents can call FWP regional offices to learn more about bears or to report bear activity. In northwest Montana, call (406) 752-5501.