Bear conflicts are on the rise in Montana
Bear conflicts are up in Montana. Over the past few days, reports of bear conflicts have increased across the state, resulting in Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) euthanizing several grizzly bears. Other bears have been shot in self-defense. Officials believe the rise in conflicts is due to “a mix of human safety concerns, habituated bear behavior, unsecured attractants” as well as other potential issues, according to KRTV Channel 3 News.
While there have been multiple conflicts with black bears in the residential areas of Bozeman, Belgrade, Big Sky, Helena and Butte, there have also been the following incidents involving grizzlies:
- MFWP bear specialists had to capture and euthanize an adult female grizzly bear on Sept. 20. The bear was on private land in the Gardiner Basin and, prior to the capture, had “broken into a fenced compound, frequented a home that had no unsecured attractants or natural foods.” The bear had also killed chickens surrounded by electric fencing. Despite hazing efforts like rubber bullets, paintballs, electric fencing and noise-making devices, the bear had to be put down as it was a repeat offender, having been captured and relocated twice for similar issues. Unfortunately, that bear also had a cub, which will be transferred to a zoo.
- On Sept. 21, MFWP responded to an aggressive grizzly bear near Bynum. The bear had charged the landowner twice and officials deemed it dangerous. The adult female bear was euthanized after receiving permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Bear specialists were unable to determine the cause of her aggression as there were no cubs or food nearby. The sow was four years old and about 350 pounds.
- MFWP also reported the death of an adult male grizzly bear, which was shot in self-defense by a group of hunters on private land near Emigrant. The incident occurred on Sept. 20 and is still under investigation by FWS, according to KRTV Channel 3 News. A similar incident occurred on Sept. 14 after a group of hunters were charged by a bear near Rock Creek in the Tom Miner Basin. The injured bear has not been discovered.
All of these conflicts are just another reminder to always stay vigilant while hunting in bear country.