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Missoula resident grizzly bear developing bad habits

north hills bear
bear warning
Posted at 3:20 PM, Nov 24, 2021

MISSOULA — We first told you last month that Missoula has its first resident grizzly bear.

The North Hills grizzly sow is now developing some bad habits that could prove fatal for her and her cubs. It’s hoped she’ll hibernate soon but until then, the hope is this threatened species isn’t threatened by temptation.

north hills bear

“We’ve been beating that drum for years and years the grizzlies are coming, the grizzlies are coming,” noted Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Wildlife Management Specialist Jamie Jonkel. “Well, this is our first family group of grizzlies that I feel is a resident female.”

It turns out, this sow has three cubs, not two. Unfortunately, she’s been breaking into some unoccupied structures, a vehicle, and a garage looking for food. Those types of stories don’t usually end well.

“I’m worried about her. She's already developed some habits that are not acceptable, and I came quite close to having to destroy her. Had we captured her this fall, there would have been a good chance to remove her and attempt to place her cubs in zoos but most likely we’d have to remove the cubs as well. Well, this is our first family group of grizzlies that I feel is a resident female.” - FWP Wildlife Management Specialist Jamie Jonkel

Jonkel says food sources are too easy and now with the reality that we have grizzlies around Missoula, homeowners need to make sure garbage and other attractants are out of reach. Thanksgiving food waste could be tempting so it’s more important than ever to keep it locked up this weekend -- or that could be their last meal.

“And she did hit a place in Upper Butler Creek right near the Grant Creek Divide near the Snowbowl Road. So I'm hoping that this is a red flag for the residents of Missoula,” Jonkel concluded.

The North Hills area in Missoula is a vast area that spans from the Wye to Hellgate Canyon. Other areas people have reported seeing the bears over the past year include the Stewart Peak trail, on the ridge between Marshall Canyon and the Rattlesnake and in the Snowbowl Area.