Two Grizzly Bears Captured in Whitefish

Residents advised to pick fruit trees, secure attractants as bears roam the Flathead Valley in search of food

By Tristan Scott
A young grizzly bear browses a cherry tree on Dakota Avenue in Whitefish. Courtesy Jan Metzmaker

Wildlife managers captured two grizzly bears in Whitefish this week, prompting agency specialists to remind residents to pick their fruit trees and secure other attractants like garbage and pet food.

One bold young grizzly showed up in Whitefish on Aug. 9 on Dakota Avenue in a residential neighborhood. Grizzly Bear Management Specialist Tim Manley, of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, set a trap in the late morning near the cherry tree the bear was seen climbing. The bear was spotted several more times that evening near Wildwood Condos and near the Tiki Bar at the Lodge at Whitefish Lake.

The bear was captured in the trap on Aug. 10 about noon after visiting the same cherry tree. The bruin was an unmarked, 2-year old male that weighed 158 pounds and had no previous management history. The bear was released on Aug. 11 near Frozen Lake, along the Canadian North Fork Flathead River valley.

On the afternoon of Aug. 9, another wildlife culvert trap was set for a grizzly bear south of Blanchard Lake. The bear had gotten into dog food and garbage. That bear was captured early in the morning of Aug. 10. It is an unmarked, 4-year old male, weighing 245 pounds with no previous management history. This bear was also released near Frozen Lake.

Both bears were fitted with GPS satellite collars for future monitoring.

Manley said some grizzly bears are remaining in the valley bottom to feed on serviceberry and hawthorn berries. Fruit trees also have apples, plums, and pears that are ripening up right now. Residents should pick their fruit as soon as possible and also make sure other attractants such as garbage, pet food, and bird feeders are not available.

Wildlife managers recommend bear-resistant bins in communities and on ranches; electric fence systems to protect chicken coops, bee yards and sheep bedding grounds; and random redistribution of livestock carcasses each spring.

Domestic chickens have been a particularly serious problem the past few years, according to wildlife managers.

FWP’s Be Bear Aware website provides homeowners and landowners with information about preventing bear conflicts.

Visit the site for tips and tools on obtaining and 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.

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