KALISPELL — State wildlife officials recently euthanized a grizzly bear near Fortine after it became habituated to people and food conditioned.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) received multiple reports of the bear approaching residences in the Barnaby Lake area west of U.S. Highway 93 and eating from bird feeders and climbing into the beds of vehicles to eat garbage.
Multiple sightings of the bear grazing on residential lawns were also reported, and residents were unable to successfully shoo away the bear, according to FWP. Wildlife management specialists set a culvert trap in the area on May 24 and captured the bear on May 25.
The adult male bear, estimated to be three years old and weighing approximately 235 pounds, had been captured earlier this spring south of Ferndale with two other bears after accessing food attractants near residences. FWP moved the bear in early May to a remote section of forest near the British Columbia border.
In accordance with Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee guidelines and in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the bear was euthanized due to food conditioning,” FWP spokesman Dillon Tabish explained.
FWP reminds homeowners to keep food attractants secured. Attractants include garbage, pet and livestock food, birdfeeders, and fruit trees, but also include livestock, gardens, and outdoor food cookers. Chickens and livestock should be properly secured with electric fencing or inside a closed shed with a door.
Loud noise, such as banging pots and pans, using an air horn or your car alarm, or shouting, is also a simple yet effective short-term way to deter a bear on private property. FWP notes other temporary and short-term deterrents include high decibel motion-activated alarms, sprinkler systems, motion lights and radios turned on at night.
More safety information is available on the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks website. Residents can call FWP at (406) 752-5501to learn more about bears or to report bear activity.