Caution urged after FWP relocates several grizzlies

| November 11, 2020 1:00 AM

Bears continue to be active and search for food sources leading up to winter, and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is reminding the public to secure food attractants and “Be Bear Aware.”

FWP has been dealing with a number of recent management actions involving grizzly bears around northwest Montana.

FWP bear specialists on Sept. 11 captured a subadult male grizzly bear off East Edgewood Drive east of Whitefish after the bear killed a pig and fed on fruit trees. The bear was removed to the Hungry Horse Reservoir area of the Flathead National Forest.

A vehicle on Montana 40 east of Whitefish on Sept. 26 struck and killed a female grizzly cub of the year. An adult female grizzly and another cub were reported but not involved in the accident.

Bear specialists on Oct. 13 also captured a subadult male grizzly north of U.S. 2 on property near the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company property. FWP had been attempting to capture a female grizzly bear with a yearling cub that was feeding on fruit trees and garbage. FWP moved the bear to a remote section of the Flathead National Forest up Dead Horse Creek in the North Fork of the Flathead River.

FWP bear specialist on Oct. 21 captured an adult female grizzly bear and male cub of the year on private property off Columbia Falls Stage Road near Columbia Falls. The bears were reportedly tipping over garbage cans at residences near the Flathead River south of town and eating domestic fruit that had fallen into residential yards, and had been accessing unsecured garbage on a back porch of a residence.

The adult female was previously captured for a research project and is 19 years old. It had previously denned in Glacier National Park, and FWP moved the bears to the Logan Creek area in the park.

FWP has received numerous reports of bear activity across the region. Most of the reports involve bears seeking food attractants, such as domestic fruit trees, garbage, and other food sources near residences. To help with domestic fruit, FWP has established a Facebook page named Flathead Fruit Gleaning where residents can post about trees that need to be picked and others can express their interest in picking up fruit. The goal is to prevent bears from becoming food conditioned by accessing food sources near residences. A food-conditioned animal actively seeks unnatural food rewards, has lost its natural foraging behavior, and can be dangerous.

Bear are increasingly active and seeking food in the fall months before denning season. Bears typically enter their dens for the winter beginning in late November.

Homeowners should stay at least 100 yards away from wildlife and try to haze wildlife off their property with loud noises. Chickens and other livestock should be properly secured with electric fencing or inside a closed shed with a door. Recreationists are urged to “Be Bear Aware” and follow precautionary steps and tips to prevent conflicts, including carrying bear spray and knowing how to use it, and travel in groups while making noise.

Hunters are reminded to “Be Bear Aware” and properly store food and carcasses. Hunters should avoid hanging carcasses near houses or garages. Carcasses must be suspended at least 10 feet above the ground and 4 feet out from any upright support. Hunters are encouraged to carry bear spray and know how to use it. More food storage and safety information are available on the FWP website, fwp.mt.gov.

Residents are encouraged to report 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.