Here’s an update of recent management actions involving grizzly bears in Region 1 (northwest Montana).
The huckleberry crop appears to be downsized this fall while other berry crops are average but located in lower elevations, bringing bears down into the valley floors before denning season.
Montana is bear country with abundant populations of grizzlies and black bears. Residents are asked to remove or secure food attractants such as garbage and bird feeders and bird seed. Chicken and 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 to prevent conflicts.
Montana’s fall black bear hunting season is Sept. 1-Sept. 14 for bowhunters and the general rifle season is Sept. 15-Nov. 25. Hunters are required to pass a bear identification test before purchasing a black bear hunting license. Grizzly bears cannot be legally hunted in Montana. The free identification test is available online.
More safety information is available on the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks website, fwp.mt.gov.
Residents can call FWP regional offices to learn more about bears or to report bear activity. In northwest Montana, call (406) 752-5501.
Grizzly Bear Returned to Cabinet Mountains
A subadult male grizzly bear was captured in north Idaho and returned to the Cabinet Mountains in northwest Montana after it frequented a baiting site.
The 2.5-year-old grizzly bear was originally moved to the Cabinet Mountains in late July as part of an augmentation program aimed at saving the grizzly bear population and boosting genetic diversity in the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem.
In recent weeks, the bear moved inside the Idaho border south of Cabinet Gorge Dam and was frequenting a bait site for black bears on private property. Black bear season is open in Idaho and baiting is allowed. The grizzly bear did not have any conflicts and there was no indication that it was food conditioned or habituated to people.
Idaho Fish and Game captured the grizzly bear in early September and delivered it to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel in northwest Montana. In collaboration with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the U.S. Forest Service, the USFWS released the grizzly bear in a remote section of the upper South Fork of the Bull River.
Grizzly Bear Captured South of Condon, Euthanized
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks captured a subadult male grizzly bear in the Swan Valley south of Condon and euthanized the animal because it was food conditioned and habituated to people.
FWP personnel captured the bear Sept. 1 on private property off Montana Highway 83 near Barber Creek. The bear was estimated to be 2 years old and weighed 165 pounds.
The bear was originally captured earlier this summer near Olney after it repeatedly ate garbage and unsecured duck feed at residences. FWP staff captured and translocated the bear to a remote location on the east side of Hungry Horse Reservoir.
FWP recently received reports of the grizzly bear breaking into a shed to eat turkey feed. Efforts by the residents to haze the bear away from the property were unsuccessful. FWP personnel responded and determined that the animal was food conditioned and unafraid of people.
FWP made the decision to euthanize it on Sept. 2 in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and in accordance with Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee guidelines.
This incident demonstrates that wild animals may become habituated to people, posing a serious risk to public safety and the animal. 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. Putting down a bear is always a last resort.
Grizzly Bear Moved from Blackfeet Reservation to North Fork Area
Blackfeet Nation Fish and Wildlife captured an adult male grizzly bear Sept. 1 and the animal was moved to a remote area in upper Coal Creek of the North Fork of the Flathead River.
It was the first time the bear was captured and it was involved in a calf depredation incident. Tribal personnel coordinated with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks to move the grizzly bear and FWP collaborated with the U.S. Forest Service to find a suitable area in the region to move the animal. The translocation site is a section of forestland in the North Fork currently closed due to the nearby wildfire.
Grizzly Bear Moved from Salmon Lake to Marias Pass
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks captured a subadult female grizzly bear Sept. 4 near Salmon Lake and moved it to a remote area near Marias Pass.
The grizzly bear was causing traffic jams along Montana Highway 83 at Salmon Lake because it eating discarded fish from anglers.
The 2-year-old bear was wearing a GPS radio collar and was originally captured near Eureka this summer after eating fruit trees near residences.