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FWP responds to growing number of grizzly, black bear incidents

GRIZZLY BEAR (file photo)
Posted at 9:07 AM, Sep 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-26 11:07:46-04

GREAT FALLS - Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) personnel have responded to many reports of bear conflicts in recent days.

The agency said in a news release that the conflicts stem from a mix of human safety concerns, habituated bear behavior, unsecured attractants and other issues.

On Sept. FWP bear specialists captured an adult female grizzly bear on private land in the Gardiner Basin.

In the weeks prior to the capture, the bear had broken into a fenced compound, frequented a home that had no unsecured attractants or natural foods, and killed chickens secured by electric fencing.

The bear was largely undeterred by hazing efforts, which included rubber bullets, paintballs, electric fencing and noise-making devices.

The bear also had been captured and relocated twice in prior years because of similar conflicts.

Due to the recent conflicts and the bear’s history, and in consultation with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), FWP euthanized the bear on Sept. 21.

The female grizzly was accompanied by a small cub, which was captured the same day. The cub will be transferred to a zoo in the coming weeks.

A grizzly bear was euthanized near Bynum on Sept. 21. FWP said the adult female bear was killed "after displaying unusually aggressive behavior towards a landowner."

The landowner first encountered the bear late Wednesday afternoon while driving on a two-track farm road and the bear emerged from a small cattail patch and charged at his vehicle.

He returned with another person in a second vehicle, and the bear again charged, and this time struck and bit the vehicle.

FWP game wardens and bear management specialists responded and determined that trapping and relocating the bear was not an option due to its aggressive behavior.

Wildlife managers then obtained permission from USFWS to euthanize the bear immediately in the interest of human safety.

No cause could be determined for the highly aggressive behavior of the female bear, which was estimated to be four years old and weighed about 350 pounds.

It did not have cubs, and there was no food item or carcass that could be found in the area.

FWP said this grizzly had previously been in residential conflict on the Blackfeet Reservation and relocated to the southern Mission mountains in 2020.

State wildlife officials have also set traps between Lolo and Florence in an attempt to capture two grizzly bears that have been going near homes in the area.