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Grizzlies put down after becoming food-conditioned, aggressive

by CHRIS PETERSON
Hungry Horse News | July 26, 2023 1:00 AM

Two grizzlies bears were killed last week because they continued to get in trouble with humans and human foods.

On July 20, Glacier National Park rangers euthanized a 5-year-old female grizzly that kept getting into trouble with campers in the Many Glacier area.

On Tuesday, June 27, the grizzly was reported moving through the Many Glacier Campground where she obtained unsecured human food from a campsite picnic table. Because the bear received a food reward, and in accordance with Glacier National Park’s Bear Management Plan, park staff restricted the Many Glacier Campground to hard-sided camping only. Staff hazed the grizzly out of the campground on two later occasions.

Then on Tuesday, July 18, the bear appeared at the Swiftcurrent Lake Boat Launch where she aggressively charged a family picnicking on the shoreline. The family was able to secure food items; however, the bear successfully obtained beverages that were left cooling in the lake. The incident was immediately reported to park staff.

Glacier then consulted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and decided to put the bear down.

Glacier rarely kills grizzly bears. This is the first food-conditioned grizzly bear to be euthanized in the park since 2009.

On July 17, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks bear managers euthanized a subadult male on the east side of the Hungry Horse Reservoir after it began chewing on boats and other items at Murray Bay.

Like Glacier, the decision to kill the bear was made after consulting with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

While grizzlies are expanding their range, they’re still currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Folks are asked to make sure all attractants are secured in bear country, which is all of Northwest Montana.

Food-conditioned and habituated bears are those that have sought and obtained unnatural foods, destroyed property or displayed aggressive, non-defensive behavior towards humans.

Once a bear has become food-conditioned, hazing and aversive conditioning are unlikely to be successful in reversing this type of behavior. Food-conditioned and habituated bears are not relocated due to human safety concerns, FWP notes.