GREAT FALLS — Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) are expanding a free carcass removal service this spring to help reduce conflicts between grizzly bears and livestock producers along the Rocky Mountain Front.
FWP said in a news release that carcasses from livestock that died over the winter are significant attractants for grizzly bears, particularly in the spring as the bears begin to emerge from their winter dens.
Livestock carcasses near homes are a human safety issue when bears move near residences to feed on the carcasses. Quickly removing carcasses helps eliminate the attractants that might draw bears into conflict with people or livestock.
Electric fencing for carcass piles and boneyards is a secondary option to help keep bears from feeding on carcasses near homes and livestock. To inquire about electric fencing projects specifically designed for grizzly bear conflict prevention, please call a bear manager listed below.
The carcass removal partnership will focus on private lands primarily in Teton County and Pondera County, and to a lesser extent in neighboring counties with priority given to where bear conflicts are more likely to occur.
Carcasses will be removed and buried at the Northern Montana Joint Refuse District Landfill east of Valier. Ag producers from participating counties may also drop off carcasses but must call first 406-278-3095. Carcasses will not be removed on weekends and other times that the landfill is closed.
The program has expanded this year with a new full-time technician, Erin Fenger, who is originally from the Sweet Grass Hills. Fenger will focus on grizzly bear conflict prevention for ag producers by helping to remove dead livestock, electric fencing and securing attractants. Fenger will also help with education activities and building bear-resistant receptacles.
Grizzly bears are expanding off the Rocky Mountain Front and into places they have not occupied for decades, including around Big Sandy and Lewistown. Grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem of Montana, which includes the Rocky Mountain Front, are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and populations in the NCDE are estimated at over 1,000 bears.
Warm spring weather means that grizzly bears are currently emerging from winter dens, making it an important time to start securing attractants to keep bears away from homes.
To have carcasses removed, call Erin Fenger at 406-579-1028. To report a bear conflict, call bear managers FWP grizzly bear specialists Wesley Sarmento at 406-450-1097 or Chad White at 406-788-4755.