News & Features

Female Grizzly, Two Yearlings Captured Near Ferndale After Freezer Break-ins

FWP has received multiple reports of grizzly bears throughout Northwest Montana

Wildlife officials captured an adult female grizzly bear and two yearlings south of Ferndale after the animals broke into small freezers outside a mobile home.

The sow, a 9-year-old adult that weighed 309 pounds, was fitted with a GPS radio collar. The adult was relocated with its two yearlings at the end of the Spotted Bear River Road on May 17.

The landowner contacted Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks after the bears visited the freezers two nights in a row. A temporary electric fence was erected around the freezers and remote cameras were deployed to determine if more than one bear was present.

After viewing the bears returning to the freezers undeterred by the fence, FWP managers decided to capture the bears on May 16 and find a permanent solution for securing the freezers.

The adult female was identified as a bear that had been last captured as a 2-year-old in 2010 near Lakeside after she had killed chickens. At that time, she was fitted with a GPS collar and released just west of Blacktail Mountain. She stayed in the Blacktail and Lake Mary Ronan area until the fall of 2010. She then swam across Flathead Lake and eventually ended up in the Swan Valley. She dropped her radio collar in the spring of 2011 south of Swan Lake.  She had no history of conflict with people from 2010 until now, according to FWP.

Grizzly bears have been emerging from their dens and due to the large amount of snow in the mountains, several grizzly bears have moved into the lower elevations where the vegetation has greened up.

FWP has received multiple reports of grizzly bears and have responded to calls in the Eureka, Whitefish, Columbia Falls, and Ferndale areas.

Residents are reminded to secure attractants such as garbage, pet food, livestock feed, and bird seed. Pick your fruit when it is ripe and protect your fruit trees, livestock, and poultry with electric fencing.

In Montana, it is illegal to feed bears and ungulates. This includes putting out grain and deer blocks. For more information on electric fencing and living in bear country visit here.