Grizzly bears euthanized after killing chickens

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Two grizzly bears were captured north Whitefish and later euthanized after the bears had become food-conditioned and were responsible for property damage and livestock depredation.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks captured two yearling grizzly bears on June 7 near the north end of Whitefish Lake and held them held for five days before the decision was made to euthanize them.

The bears, and an adult female grizzly, were previously captured last fall near Whitefish after killing chickens and causing extensive property damage along Whitefish Stage Road and Farm to Market Road.

The bears were relocated to the North Fork of the Flathead River, but within a week returned to the Whitefish area killing additional chickens and causing extensive property damage, according to a release.

The bears, each weighing about 120 pounds, were provided food and water until the decision was made to euthanize them at a local veterinary clinic on June 12.

The young bears were held onsite in an effort to capture the adult female, but the attempt was unsuccessful.

FWP removed the bears in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and in accordance with Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee guidelines.

FWP says it is monitoring increased grizzly and black bear activity across northwest Montana, including in the Ferndale and Whitefish areas, and is actively working to reduce conflicts in collaboration with landowners.

The incidents demonstrate that wild animals can lose their natural foraging habits once they become food conditioned, and this poses a serious risk to public safety and the animal, according to the release. When responding to a conflict involving bears, FWP follows guidelines associated with the incident that inform an appropriate action. These factors include the potential human safety threats, the intensity of the conflict and the bear’s history of conflicts.

Residents are encouraged to report possible bear activity as soon as possible.

To report grizzly bear activity in the greater Flathead Valley, call FWP bear management specialists at 406-250-1265. To report black bear and mountain lion activity in the greater Flathead Valley, call 406-250-0062.

In 2019 so far, there have been 16 grizzly bear mortalities in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.

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