Black Bear Euthanized After Hungry Horse Reservoir Campground Conflicts

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials set traps after the bear broke into a vehicle and a tent; a camper was cited for violating food storage orders

By Beacon Staff
A black bear digs through a dumpster in Whitefish. Photo courtesy of FWP

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) on July 8 trapped and euthanized a black bear along Hungry Horse Reservoir in Flathead County after repeated conflicts in a pair of campgrounds, according to a Tuesday press release from the agency.

According to the release, FWP wildlife specialists received reports of a black bear getting into unsecured food attractants at the Flathead National Forest’s Emery Bay Campground and Goose Head dispersed camping site, also known as FK & L, on the north end of the reservoir. The bear was reportedly hanging around the campgrounds seeking food sources, and conflicts included breaking a window of a vehicle to access a cooler and getting into a tent at Emery Bay. A camper was cited for disobeying the Flathead National Forest food storage order by improperly storing a food attractant.

FWP set traps July 4 and the Hungry Horse Ranger District closed the camping sites.

FWP captured the male bear on July 8 and euthanized it due to food conditioning. The Hungry Horse Ranger District has lifted the area closure order.

Food-conditioned and habituated bears are those that have sought and obtained unnatural foods, destroyed property or displayed aggressive, non-defensive behavior toward humans. Once a bear has become food-conditioned, hazing and aversive conditioning are unlikely to be successful in reversing this type of behavior. Food-conditioned and habituated bears are not relocated due to human safety concerns.

Montana is bear country. Campers should “Be Bear Aware” and secure food attractants. They should keep food and anything with a scent out of tents, FWP officials said.

“Dispose of garbage in bear resistant bins; otherwise, take it with you and dispose of it properly elsewhere,” the release states. “Do not bury or burn garbage.”

Follow local land management agency food storage orders and properly store unattended food and anything else with a scent.

Learn more at https://fwp.mt.gov/conservation/wildlife-management/bear

Members of the public should report bear conflicts immediately to FWP or your tribal wildlife management agency. Addressing initial conflicts promptly can help avoid bears from becoming food conditioned or habituated.

In northwest Montana, contact:

North portion of Flathead County and Eureka area — Justine Vallieres, 406-250-1265

South portion of Flathead County — Erik Wenum, 406-250-0062

Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem and Sanders County – Garrett Tovey, 406-291-1320

Flathead Indian Reservation – Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Wildlife Management Program, 406-275-2774

[email protected]