Bear sightings spark concerns near Rice Ridge fire - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Bear sightings spark concerns near Rice Ridge fire

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SEELEY LAKE --  Bears sightings are becoming common in the Seeley Lake area, where garbage cans left out after homes were evacuated are drawing the bears closer to residential areas, said Mike Cole, Rice Ridge Fire information officer.

A bear specialist arrived at the Rice Ridge Fire camp Friday, because firefighters are also encountering bears on the fire lines, he said.

There have been multiple reports of bear activity near the fire lines, especially near the Monture Guard Station Cabin and fire lines near Ovando.

A ‘Be Bear Aware’ bear information trailer will be staffed at the Rice Ridge fire camp for firefighters to get more information.

A Fish, Wildlife, and Park bear specialist will be providing information about what to do if someone encounters a bear, and how to avoid them, as well as how to use a canister of bear spray.

Cole said many of the firefighters from out- of-state have never come across bears before, especially not grizzlies.

Safety officers are adding bears to the list of things personnel need to be prepared for at the Rice Ridge Fire, which also includes poor forest conditions. 

“Just get a little more information to the firefighters. What to do to avoid them, what to do if they show up on the fire line. We will probably do a learn how to use bear spray, get bear spray to a few people on the fire line,” Cole said.

The fire camp is ordering bear spray, although not every fire fighter will carry it, he said.

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