Orphaned Grizzly Cubs Sent to Pennsylvania Wildlife Sanctuary

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks have euthanized seven food conditioned bears in northwest Montana this summer

By Micah Drew
Photo courtesy of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Following the euthanization of an adult female grizzly bear in northwest Montana, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) is sending a pair of grizzly cubs to a wildlife sanctuary in Pennsylvania.

The three bears were captured near Lupfer Meadows north of Whitefish on July 10. The adult bear was previously captured in 2020 and relocated to Glacier National Park after breaking into unsecured garbage and chicken coops near Columbia Falls. FWP received continued reports of the adult female seeking unnatural food sources —domestic rabbits, garbage and livestock feed — near Olney over the last two years, but bear specialists were unable to capture the grizzly.

This spring, the grizzly reportedly partially tore open a residential garage door in pursuit of food, leading FWP in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to determine it was necessary to euthanize the food conditioned bear.

The two cubs were taken to the FWP Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Helena for temporary placement but will soon be relocated to the Rivendale Wildlife Sanctuary in Bulgar, Pennsylvania. The sanctuary recently built bear enclosure that will house the cubs and is accredited by the Zoological Association of America.

“While we’re grateful that the Rivendale Wildlife Sanctuary had the appropriate space and accepted these two cubs for permanent placement, we’d much rather see them in the wild avoiding conflict with humans,” FWP Region 1 Supervisor Lee Anderson said. “I can’t stress enough the importance of securing food attractants in bear country. It will keep people safe and bears wild.”

Also in July FWP officials captured a pair of male grizzlies north of Columbia Falls in the Blankenship area following reports of the animals getting into garbage, outdoor freezers and chicken coops. Determining the food conditioned bears were a public safety risk, FWS and FWP decided to euthanize both animals on July 11.

Seven bears in total have been killed as management removals this year in FWP’s Region 1. In June, FWP officials captured and euthanized four bears — two black bears and two grizzlies — that had become food conditioned.

“We appreciate residents reporting these conflicts to FWP bear managers because we need to hear about these conflicts as soon as they occur to try and address the situation before it worsens,” Anderson said.  

Officials urge residents to remove or secure food attractants such as garbage and bird feeders and birdseed. Chicken and livestock should be properly secured with electric fencing or inside a closed shed with a door.

Anyone recreating in bear country should be aware of their presence and follow precautionary steps and tips to prevent conflicts, such as carrying bear spray and knowing how to effectively use it.

To report grizzly bear activity in the greater Flathead Valley, call FWP wildlife management specialists at (406) 250-1265. To report black bear and mountain lion activity in the greater Flathead Valley, call (406) 250-0062. To report bear activity in the Cabinet-Yaak area, call (406) 291-1320.

For more safety information, visit fwp.mt.gov/conservation/wildlife.

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