Three Grizzly Bears Captured and Killed in Flathead, Tobacco Valleys

By Beacon Staff

State wildlife officials say they captured and killed three grizzly bears after the animals damaged property at homes in the Flathead and Tobacco valleys between Oct. 28 and Nov. 2. All of the bears were drawn to attractants like food for livestock and pets.

Tim Manley, grizzly bear management specialist with Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, said the bears had become food-conditioned and had a history of conflicts that caused significant property damage and, in one case, “lots of dead chickens,” according to a press release.

Conflicts between bears and humans have been relatively infrequent in the region this year, Manley said, but last month brought an uptick in problem bears as officials trapped for grizzlies in the Farm-to-Market, Blankenship, Columbia Falls and Pinkham Creek areas. In each case, the problems started with human attractants.

“The best thing that residents living in bear country can do to prevent bear conflicts is to secure attractants such as garbage, pet food and bird feeders so that bears don’t get food rewards and start looking around homes and buildings for food,” Manley stated in a press release. “Chickens and other livestock can be protected with properly installed and maintained electric fencing.”

FWP Wildlife Manager Jim Williams called the situation unfortunate but said euthanizing the bears was a necessary course of action.

“There is a threshold at which it is not safe to release a problem grizzly bear back into the wild,” he stated in a press release. “In all three of these cases the bears had progressed to breaking through structures near occupied residences and/or had a long previous history of conflict with humans. In each case, the problems started with human attractants.”

A 3-year-old, 140-pound female grizzly was captured and euthanized on Oct. 28 near Nyack Flats, east of West Glacier, after the bear broke into a chicken coop to get chicken feed and tried breaking through a door on a porch to get dog food. The bear was first captured in the Coram area as a cub in 2010 and was relocated multiple times, but continued to cause problems in Coram and at guest ranches and Forest Service cabins in the Spotted Bear area. She was last captured in September and moved to the Whale Creek drainage along the North Fork Flathead River.

A second grizzly was euthanized in the Glen Lake area near Eureka on Oct. 30. The 375-pound, 6-year old male grizzly was also food-conditioned and had been killing chickens and breaking into structures. Due to the property damage and large number of chickens that were killed at several places, the decision was made to remove the bear.

The third grizzly removed was a 7-year old, 525-pound male that was captured on the east side of the Flathead Valley near Mud Lake on Nov. 2. This bear had caused extensive damage to a tack shed that was used to store horse grain. The landowner had made the effort to bear proof his shed after a bear had tried getting into it 10 years ago. He had put up steel diamond mesh over a metal door and window. The bear put a hole through the wall and also pulled down the mesh over the door and pushed in the metal door. Due to the extensive property damage, officials decided to terminate the bear.

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