Wildlife officials say a below-average huckleberry crop appears to be driving bears down into the valley floor early this season as the bruins seek out other more robust berry crops at lower elevations to prepare for denning season.
That means more bears mingling with area homes, where they scour fruit trees and unsecured attractants, like garbage and pet food.
That’s kept wildlife management officials busy as they respond to numerous reports of food-conditioned bears frequenting properties, prompting them to issue another reminder to the public to remove or secure food attractants such as garbage, bird feeders and birdseed. Chicken and livestock should be properly secured with electric fencing or inside a closed shed with a door. Recreationists are urged to “Be Bear Aware” and follow precautionary steps to prevent conflicts, and homeowners with fruit trees should pick them.
Grizzly Bear Returned to Cabinet Mountains
A subadult male grizzly bear was captured in north Idaho and returned to the Cabinet Mountains in northwest Montana after it frequented a baiting site.
The 2.5-year-old grizzly bear was originally moved to the Cabinet Mountains in late July as part of an augmentation program aimed at saving the grizzly bear population and boosting genetic diversity in the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem.
In recent weeks, the bear moved inside the Idaho border south of Cabinet Gorge Dam and was frequenting a bait site for black bears on private property. Black bear hunting season is open in Idaho and baiting is allowed. The grizzly bear did not have any conflicts and there was no indication that it was food conditioned or habituated to people.
Idaho Fish and Game captured the grizzly bear in early September and delivered it to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel in northwest Montana. In collaboration with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the U.S. Forest Service, the USFWS released the grizzly bear in a remote section of the upper South Fork of the Bull River.
Grizzly Bear Captured South of Condon, Euthanized
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks captured a subadult male grizzly bear in the Swan Valley south of Condon and euthanized the animal because it was food conditioned and habituated to people.
FWP personnel captured the bear Sept. 1 on private property off Montana Highway 83 near Barber Creek. The bear was estimated to be 2 years old and weighed 165 pounds.
The bear was originally captured earlier this summer near Olney after it repeatedly ate garbage and unsecured duck feed at residences. FWP staff captured and translocated the bear to a remote location on the east side of Hungry Horse Reservoir.
FWP recently received reports of the grizzly bear breaking into a shed to eat turkey feed. Efforts by the residents to haze the bear away from the property were unsuccessful. Wildlife officials responded and determined that the animal was food conditioned and unafraid of people, and made the decision to euthanize it on Sept. 2 in accordance with Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee guidelines.
Grizzly Bear Moved from Blackfeet Reservation to North Fork Area
Wildlife officials with the Blackfeet Nation captured an adult male grizzly bear Sept. 1 and the animal was moved to a remote area in upper Coal Creek of the North Fork of the Flathead River.
It was the first time the bear was captured and it was involved in a calf depredation incident. Tribal personnel coordinated with FWP to move the grizzly bear, and collaborated with the U.S. Forest Service to find a suitable area in the region to move the animal.
The translocation site is a section of forestland in the North Fork currently closed due to the nearby wildfire.
Grizzly Bear Moved from Salmon Lake to Marias Pass
FWP captured a subadult female grizzly bear Sept. 4 near Salmon Lake and moved it to a remote area near Marias Pass.
The grizzly bear was causing traffic jams along Montana Highway 83 at Salmon Lake because it eating discarded fish from anglers.
The 2-year-old bear was wearing a GPS radio collar and was originally captured near Eureka this summer after eating fruit trees near residences.