Bear town hall in Big Timber July 24
Montana wildlife officials are taking the lead on informing the public about bears in Montana.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is having a bear town hall meeting at the Big Timber Carnegie Library Community Meeting Room, 314 McLeod St., on July 24, from 7 to 9 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Area landowners are encouraged to attend.
State wildlife officials will give a brief presentation on bear biology and management and provide information on bear conflict prevention at home and while recreating. There will also be an extensive question and answer period for the public to ask specific questions to local wildlife officials and game wardens.
As grizzly bear populations continue to expand across Montana, FWP hopes to engage local communities within likely grizzly bear range to share information on bear safety.
A grizzly bear was captured and killed after several conflicts with people along Hungry Horse Reservoir in Flathead County last weekend.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks bear management specialists received reports of a bear approaching people and damaging boats last weekend near Murray Bay on the east side of the reservoir on the Flathead National Forest. The boats were beached on shore and did not have food attractants onboard. Attempts by the public to use loud noises to move the bear away were unsuccessful.
FWP staff responded and captured the bear, a subadult male grizzly bear, on July 17. Based on reports and video footage, the bear was food conditioned and habituated to people.
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.
The public is asked to report bear conflicts immediately to FWP or your tribal wildlife management agency. Addressing initial conflicts promptly can help avoid bears from becoming food conditioned or habituated.
In northwest Montana, contact:
- North portion of Flathead County and Eureka area - Justine Vallieres, 406-250-1265
- South portion of Flathead County - Erik Wenum, 406-250-0062
- Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem and Sanders County - Kim Annis, 406-291-1320
- Flathead Indian Reservation - Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Wildlife Management Program, 406-275-2774
Tips in bear country
- Carry bear spray close at hand and know how to use it.
- Travel in groups whenever possible and plan to be back to your vehicle in the daylight hours.
- Avoid carcass sites and concentrations of ravens and other scavengers.
- Watch for signs of bears such as bear scat, diggings, torn-up logs and turned over rocks, and partly consumed animal carcasses.
- Make noise, especially near streams or in thick forest where hearing and visibility is limited. This can be the key to avoiding encounters. Most bears will avoid humans when they know humans are present.
- Don't approach a bear.
- A properly constructed electrified fence is both safe for people, livestock and pets, and has proven effective at deterring bears from human-related resources such as beehives, garbage or small livestock. For assistance or more information, contact your local FWP bear management specialist.
- Properly secure or remove food attractants.
For more information on bear safety and awareness, visit: https://fwp.mt.gov/conservation/wildlife-management/bear/be-bear-aware