NewsMissoula County


Bear activity spikes in Lolo prompting concerns over garbage

Posted at 7:25 AM, Jul 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-30 09:25:35-04

LOLO – Some Lolo residents have been noticing dumpsters flipped over and trash on the side of the road, attracting more bears than normal.

Sleeman Creek Road, off of US Highway 12 west of town, is one of the last wildlife crossings between Missoula and Lolo. 

There are six-to-eight bears feeding off the garbage in Lolo and state wildlife officials say that’s not happening anywhere else in the Missoula Valley. 

Residents say people are leaving trash out in the open, on top of dumpsters, and in the road.

Some people have been cleaning the trash and even putting bricks and locks on the dumpsters in an effort to try and solve the issue. 

Lolo Garbage Bears
One of the areas sparking the most concern over bears getting into garbage is in the Sleeman Creek Road area. (courtesy photo)

Meanwhile, the Lolo Community Council is trying to coordinate bear aware events to educate the public, sometime in the future. 

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks bear management expert James Jonkel says they’ve organized bear prevention efforts in the Rattlesnake, Grant Creek, Pattee Canyon and Big Flat areas. He said those efforts have paid off. 

“You know we’ve got a lot of bear activity all around Missoula right now. But our pulse of bears getting into garbage is pretty much localized right there at Lolo,” Jonkel explained

“So it’s the last spot in the Missoula Valley where we need to get some community organization,” he told MTN News.

One option available is bear-proof trash bins, but those can be costly.

The problem has gotten so bad in the Sleeman Creek area that Republic Services plans to install three bear-proof garbage bins at the site later this week.

Representatives with the Be Bear Aware Campaign say they have been following conflict between humans and garbage in Lolo for some time and recently put out a brochure for people about how to avoid such conflicts.

You can view the brochure here. You can also learn more about how to “Be Bear Aware” on the FWP website.