Lots of grizzly encounters in Southern Montana


As fall approaches and bear activity increases, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks staff in southwest Montana have been responding to many reports of bear conflicts resulting from habituated bear behavior, unsecured attractants, and other issues.
Last Tuesday, Montana wildlife officers captured an adult female grizzly on private property in the Gardiner Basin. In the weeks before the bear had broken into a fenced compound, came around a home that had no unsecured attractants or natural foods, and killed chickens secured by electric fencing.
The bear was undeterred by hazing efforts, including rubber bullets, paintballs, electric fencing, and noise-making devices. The bear also had been captured and relocated twice in prior years because of similar conflicts.
Due to the recent conflicts, FWP euthanized the bear on last week.
The female grizzly was accompanied by a small cub, which was captured and will be transferred to a zoo in the coming weeks.
Montana’s archery hunting season overlaps with the time of year bears are more actively seeking food. Several hunters have reported encounters with grizzly bears this year.
On Sept. 20, FWP received a report of an adult male grizzly bear that was shot and killed in self-defense by a group of hunters on private land west of Emigrant. The hunters were not injured. FWP and the USFWS confirmed the grizzly bear mortality and are still investigating the incident.
On Sept. 14, a group of hunters reported they were charged by a grizzly bear near Rock Creek in the Tom Miner Basin. One of the hunters shot at the bear with a pistol, and the bear ran away. The U.S. Forest Service issued a temporary road closure while FWP wardens and bear specialists investigated the incident. After searching from the ground and from a helicopter, no sign of an injured bear or bear tracks were found. The area was reopened with an advisory of high bear activity.
In recent weeks, FWP game wardens and bear specialists have also responded to numerous conflicts with black bears in residential areas of Bozeman, Belgrade, Big Sky, Helena and Butte. Several black bears have had to be euthanized after they gained access to garbage and other unsecured attractants, creating human safety risks and habituated bear behavior.
Unsecured attractants, such as garbage and bird feeders, can lead to human safety risks and property damage. Relocating and releasing bears that have associated human activity with food usually leads to further conflicts because bears often return to the same area where they were captured to look for food. Unfortunately, bears in these situations can’t be rehabilitated, so they often must be euthanized.