Grizzly Bears Captured and Relocated in Flathead Valley

FWP issues bear safety reminders for hunters after recent conflicts

By Beacon Staff

Wildlife managers captured a 5- or 6-year-old, 365-pound, adult male grizzly bear above Lake Blaine on the east side of the Flathead Valley Oct. 19 after the bruin was reported to have been damaging fruit trees in the area.

Officials with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks relocated the bear to the east side of Hungry Horse Reservoir. It was fitted with a GPS collar and had not been captured previously

Meanwhile, managers also caught a 2-year-old male grizzly across U.S. Highway 93 from the Flathead County Landfill after the bear was reportedly eating apples at a residence.

FWP officials set a trap several days earlier targeting a much larger grizzly bear that had been damaging fruit trees, but caught the younger bear instead. They fit the bear with a GPS satellite collar and released him up Whale Creek in the North Fork Flathead River drainage. The bear had no history of capture.

According to a press release from FWP, the agency has received numerous reports of both black and grizzly bears in the areas around Whitefish, Columbia Falls, Eureka, Bigfork, and along the north and east side of the Flathead Valley.

Managers are emphasizing that landowners pick fruit off their trees to prevent damage to their trees and pick up all fruit off the ground to avoid attracting bears.

Electric fencing can also be used to protect fruit trees, poultry, and livestock.

Pet food and grain should be secured where bears can’t get access to it. Bird feeders that contain sunflower seeds, millet, and suet will attract bears to homes.

Garbage should not be left outside where bears can get into it.  In Montana, it is illegal to feed bears and ungulates; illegal foods include deer blocks and grain.

With the onset of big game season, hunters should also be aware that grizzly bears can be encountered almost anywhere throughout western Montana. Hunters should read, understand, and follow the food storage orders, which also cover how you handle game that you have harvested.

Hunters should make every effort to get their harvested game out of the field and processed as soon as possible. If you have to leave your harvested animal in the field for any length of time, it is recommend to get the meat as far away from the gut pile as possible and to leave it in an open area that you can observe it from a distance. Placing tree branches or sticks over the carcass will also give you an indication that a bear might have visited the carcass if the branches are moved.

When you return to a carcass always approach it with the idea that a bear could be in the area.

FWP recommends that hunters and other recreationists carry and know how to use bear pepper spray.

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