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Black bears, orphaned cubs being seen in Western Montana

Several black bears and close to a dozen orphaned cubs currently in the area
Black Bear
Posted at 1:30 PM, Jan 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-30 12:53:40-05

MISSOULA - The Missoula Bears Facebook page recently posted that there are several black bears and close to a dozen orphaned cubs in the Missoula area right now. The animals are still active and not currently hibernating which is an unusual situation.

We talked with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wildlife biologist Jamie Jonkel who says since we had a food failure this summer — especially a bad berry crop — some young momma bears had trouble feeding themselves and their cubs.

That has led to bears taking risks to find food with some getting hit by cars while others simply abandoned their cubs due to starvation. Jonkel says that happened more often this year due to the food failure which is why there are so many in the Missoula Valley right now.

There are several adult black bears including a male in Miller Creek that was seen eating roadkill. There is a bear in the Rattlesnake that has been finding unsecured garbage cans and bird feeders, and there is an active black bear in the Frenchtown area, one in Saint Regis and one near Bonner.

We asked Jonkel what people can do about the situation, and he said to leave the bears alone and if you have a bear near your property, secure your garbage and bring in the bird feeders.

Jonkel told MTN News while it might be tempting to toss a cub some food, don’t do it. Just let it be and tell FWP about it. They are monitoring bear activity in the area right now.