MISSOULA — Western Montana bear sightings made a sharp increase early this week, and a wildlife expert says ripening fruit is to blame.
The Missoulian reports that bear management specialist Jamie Jonkel of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks says the animals are pouring down from higher elevations as apples ripen.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks estimates there are between 20 and 25 bears eating domestic fruit in the Missoula area.
Jonkel says it has been a “weird year” for fruit in western Montana, with apples, hawthorn berries and other species ripening early. He says calls are continuously coming in about bears in apple, plum or pear trees.
On his department’s website, Jonkel advises people to pick fruit as soon as possible and consider using electric fences to protect fruit trees.
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