BILLINGS - A bear that had been sighted on multiple properties in the Emerald Hills area of Lockwood was killed Friday morning after trapping a resident inside his house, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP).
The resident was attempting to take down bird feeders that were likely attracting the bear to the area, but the bear would not move away from the door. He called FWP, which sent a game warden out to investigate.
"The game warden went out to see if they could do something with the bear," said FWP Region 5 communication manager Bob Gibson. "But at that point, it was obvious the only action was to dispatch the bear."
FWP received calls all week about at least two bears in the area. Gibson said that's not surprising for Emerald Hills.
"We deal with it all the time," he said. "It's just perfect bear habitat, and bears do live there. Our job and the job of the people who live there are to keep those bears from getting in trouble."
Martin and Charmin Brougham saw the bear drinking from a bird bath on their property Thursday, about 20 feet from their front door. Their dog, Echo, alerted them to the bear's presence, right before Charmin was about to walk out.
"Had the dog not barked, she would have walked out the door and run into the bear," Martin said. "He wasn't aggressive to us in the slightest though. He left our garbage can alone, and it had trash in it."
They were one of the lucky ones. Gibson said FWP received reports of the bear getting into trash cans and other food sources at homes in the area, so they didn't feel it could be rehabilitated.
Gibson said often a bear's singular focus will be finding food. FWP urges people to clean out barbecue grills and to get rid of bird feeders filled with sugar water, or any other smell attractants.
This is the second bear-related issue in the region in the last three days. A black bear was captured near Fromberg on Wednesday and relocated by FWP.
"FWP got involved before the bear was aggressive and had become acclimated to garbage, bird feeders, barbecues," Gibson said. "Our bear specialist was able to trap that bear, take it up in the mountains and turn it loose where it would be away from people.
"We don't want bears to start associating food with people, because that's when they get aggressive."
Gibson said the other bear in the Emerald Hills area has not shown signs of being aggressive yet, so they are simply monitoring the situation for now.