Grizzly bears emerging in northwest Montana
Posted on 30 May 2017
Male Grizzly Bear Captured Near Fortine
A three-year old male grizzly bear was captured in the Deep Creek drainage near Fortine on May 23 and released in the Spotted Bear drainage on May 24.
According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the grizzly bear was very habituated to human activity and being around homes. It was often spotted feeding in yards and pastures adjacent to barns and houses. There weren’t any reports or evidence of the bear getting into garbage or other unnatural attractants. Landowners were concerned about how much time the bear was spending around homes. The decision was made to capture the bear and translocate him to a more remote location.
This bear was originally captured on August 10, 2016 in Whitefish on Dakota Avenue where he was feeding in fruit trees. He was fitted with a GPS radio collar and released near Frozen Lake on the Canadian border. After his released he moved east to Waterton Park in Alberta. After about a week he moved south into Glacier National Park and ended up spending the rest of the fall in the upper Bowman Creek area. He denned up near Hole-in-the-Wall and Boulder Pass. After emerging from his den he traveled down to the North Fork River and then in 12 hours crossed the Whitefish range and ended up in the Deep Creek area near Fortine.
Most of his GPS locations showed that he was spending a majority of his time in wet meadows and forested areas away from homes, but there were a number of locations that confirmed he was also spending time next to houses. When talking with landowners, one of the reasons he might have been in some of the pastures was because he was feeding on ground squirrels that landowners had been shooting. Based on his level of habituation, sightings, and concerns by the residents he was captured and translocated.
All of the radio-collared grizzly bears have emerging from their dens and due to the large amount of snow in the mountains, several grizzly bears have moved into the lower elevations where the vegetation has greened up. MT FWP has gotten reports of grizzly bears and have responded to calls in the Eureka, Whitefish, Columbia Falls, and Ferndale areas.
Residents are reminded to secure attractants such as garbage, pet food, livestock feed, and bird seed. Pick your fruit when it is ripe and protect your fruit trees, livestock, and poultry with electric fencing. In Montana, it is illegal to feed bears and ungulates. This includes putting out grain and deer blocks. For more information on electric fencing and living in bear country visit: http://fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/livingWithWildlife/beBearAware/default.html.