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Bears captured across Flathead Valley after accessing human-related food sources

Posted at 7:42 PM, Jul 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-15 17:16:25-04

KALISPELL — In a matter of five days, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ specialists captured three grizzly bears in the greater Flathead Valley. Attempts to capture three other bears were unsuccessful.

All but two of the bears were accessing human-related food sources and at risk of becoming food conditioned.

When bears access unsecured food sources, such as garbage or bird feeders, they can become dependent on those sources and lose their natural foraging behavior. This can create a public safety issue. It can also result in the bear being euthanized.

FWP, with its federal and tribal partners, works on the ground with landowners, nonprofit organizations, and the general public to prevent conflicts and promote safety and education. This includes promoting electric fencing and certified bear-resistant garbage cans, as well as other “Bear Aware” behaviors.

How to “Be Bear Aware:”

  • Carry bear spray and know how to use it.
  • Remove or secure food attractants like garbage, chickens & bird feeders.
  • Use loud noises to haze bears off your property.
  • Hike in groups & make noise.

Residents are encouraged to report bear activity as soon as possible. To report grizzly bear activity in the greater Flathead Valley, call FWP bear management specialists at 406-250-1265. To report black bear and mountain lion activity in the greater Flathead Valley, call 406-250-0062. To report bear activity in the Cabinet-Yaak area, call 406-291-1320.

For more information, click here.

Individual Incident Reports:

On July 8, FWP specialists captured an adult female grizzly bear near Bigfork. The bear did not display aggressive behavior, but it was accessing bird feeders and unsecured garbage. The bear, estimated to be 4-5 years old, had not been previously captured. After consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Forest Service, FWP moved the bear to the Spotted Bear River drainage on July 9. Residents of the Bigfork area were very helpful in reporting sightings and in many cases removing or securing attractants.

On July 10, a yearling female grizzly was recaptured between Coram and Martin City. The bear had been captured twice the previous fall in Ferndale with an adult female that was killing chickens and causing damage to vehicles. After the second capture, the adult female was euthanized, and the cub was big enough to collar and release on the east side of Hungry Horse Reservoir. The cub moved north and denned near Desert Mountain. This spring, the bear was not involved in any conflicts but FWP wanted to make sure its GPS collar was fitting properly. The bear was re-released at the end of the Spotted River Road because of concern it would access unsecured garbage or other attractants around Coram and Martin City.

On July 12, a 4-year old female grizzly was incidentally captured north of Echo Lake where traps were set for a female grizzly with two yearlings that were killing chickens. An electric fence was also set up around the chicken coop. The family group returned the first night but evaded capture. The family group made contact with the electric fence and fled. A separate bear, the 4-year-old grizzly, was captured. It was fitted with a GPS radio collar and released in the Puzzle Creek drainage near Marias Pass in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service.