Wildlife officials captured and relocated a 6-year-old female grizzly and two cubs last weekend.
The bears were captured along the Flathead River, west of Columbia Falls Stage Road. The family was previously captured earlier this year on the Flathead Indian Reservation by Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe biologists. The bears were captured in an attempt to move them away from homes before any conflicts occurred, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The family group had been relocated on the east side of Hungry Horse Reservoir. Within several weeks, they swam the reservoir and crossed over the top of the Swan Mountains into the Flathead Valley, according to biologists tracking the bears.
For the past month, the bears traveled along the east side of the Flathead Valley between Lake Blaine, Many Lakes and LaBrant Road. They were also observed in the Creston area where they got into a garden and ate corn and carrots. The bears didn’t cause any major conflicts, but they were observed walking through backyards on several occasions, according to FWP.
The decision was made to capture and move them out of the Flathead Valley. Traps were set in the LaBrant Road and Creston area. Eventually, the family group made their way to the Flathead River, north of Highway 35. The adult female was captured with a leg hold snare, drugged and placed in the front of a family trap. The cubs were captured about two hours later after they walked into the back of the trap to be near their mother.
The decision was made to return the family group to an area they were familiar with on the Flathead Indian Reservation at a remote area in the South Fork of the Jocko drainage. CSKT Biologists released the family group on Aug. 23. The female is still wearing a GPS radio collar from when she was first captured this year.
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