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Grizzly bears emerging from dens; FWP reminds people to be "bear aware"

GRIZZLY BEAR (file photo)
GRIZZLY BEAR (file photo)
Posted at 1:20 PM, Apr 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-02 17:53:12-04

GREAT FALLS — The sighting of an adult female grizzly bear with young this week near Choteau is a reminder for people that bears are out and active. Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks said in a news release that it’s not just hikers, anglers, and other outdoor recreationists who need to take bear safety seriously. Homeowners, farmers, ranchers, and anyone working outdoors needs to be bear aware and understand the potential for an encounter exists.

FWP says it is critical for people to make sure any potential attractants are located well away from human dwellings or activity and do not remain within a travel corridor or brushy cover that is likely to be used bears. This sow and cubs near Choteau demonstrate the importance of getting attractants secured or eliminated now, because the bears are already leaving their dens.

Like the last few Springs and Summers, grizzly bears continue to pop up on the plains east of the Rockies, even as far as Big Sandy recently. According to FWP, the grizzly bear population in the Northern Continental Divide ecosystem is increasing at about 2.3 percent a year. The expanding population is actually occurring in all directions, but human-bear conflicts east of the Rockies are seemingly more noticeable because of the number of farms and ranches that have food sources.

Chad White, an FWP bear management specialist in Choteau, explained, “Although late March is fairly early for a sow with cubs to leave the den, it illustrates how important it is for everyone to be prepared to encounter a bear. Winter-killed big game provides an important food source for bears in early spring, and livestock carcasses are a major attractant as well. Any unsecured food source, whether its pet food outdoors, a bird feeder loaded with seed, a home garbage container, or even spilled grain can draw in a bear, so to reduce the odds of that happening it’s important to remove or secure those attractants before the bears are out moving around this spring.”

FWP is working with communities and agriculture producers to address problems and avoid bear conflicts. To report a sighting, conflict, or for assistance securing attractants, contact bear management specialists Chad White at 788-4755 or Wesley Sarmento at 450-1097. Visit the FWP "Bear Aware" page for more information.

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