Outdoors

Bear Sightings Prompt Call to Remove Food Attractants

Bears emerging from winter dens and seeking food

Montana’s hibernating black bears and grizzly bears are stirring awake and multiple sightings have been reported across the region, leading wildlife officials to encourage residents to remove food attractants.

Tim Manley, grizzly bear management specialist with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said last week the agency had received a few reports of grizzly bear tracks and one reported observation.

“We ask people to secure their attractants by April 1. April is the month when most bears emerge from their dens,” Manley said.

When bears emerge from their dens, they are physically depleted and food is a priority. Bears are often attracted to garbage and other sources of food, including chicken coops and bird feeders. Food-depleted bears can react aggressively if they’re surprised while feeding.

The most effective way to prevent bear encounters and save bears is to prevent them from obtaining any foods or garbage in the first place. FWP recommends bear resistant bins in communities and on ranches; electric fence systems to protect bee yards, bird feeders and sheep bedding grounds; random redistribution of livestock carcasses each spring; and educational programs in schools and communities.

In Montana, it is illegal to intentionally feed ungulates, mountain lions, and bears. This includes putting out grain, deer blocks, mineral blocks, sunflower seeds, garbage, meat scraps, bread, doughnuts, brownies, and other food.

Visit Fwp.mt.gov for tips and tools on using bear spray, safe camping and hiking, access to bear resistant produce and a guide to the many food-related and other items that attract bears to a property.

Contact FWP at 755-5501 to report any encounters.

Common Bear Attractants

Bird feeders

Human garbage

Human food

Barbecue Grills

Pets and pet food

Livestock

Honey

Compost Pile

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