GREAT FALLS – A rancher in Bynum posted video to Facebook on Wednesday showing four grizzly bears. Two of them were caught in traps and two others were nearby.
The Skeltons said on their "Blackleaf Guardians" Facebook page:
Bear-y busy morning! #WillowKangal is busy with the bears!
We had a government trapper come out and set a trap on a sheep that was killed by a grizzly yesterday. He set 2. Well… this morning there was two caught bears and 2 hanging around!
The #GoldenGirls and #WillowKangal tagged into the bears while the rest stayed with their flock. Great teamwork, Girls!
Billie Skelton told MTN News it appears the two trapped bears are a male and a female and the other two are older cubs.
Skelton said snare traps were used to capture the bears, and they do not injure or hurt the trapped grizzlies.
She said the ewe that was killed on Tuesday appeared to have bite marks on its skull consistent with being attacked by a grizzly cub.
Skelton said her ranch has lost seven sheep to grizzly depredation this season, and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks credits the Skelton dogs for keeping that number from being higher.
Without the dogs, she said, they likely would have lost dozens of sheep to the grizzly bears.
Skelton posted the following comment on the video post: "All the bears were trapped and handled humanely! MT FWP trapped the bears with a slip around the paw and then were here asap to tranquilize and care for the bears."
The Skeltons said the male grizzly will be released on the other side of the Continental Divide.
The female has cubs around so she will be released near the ranch away from the sheep once she is collared and tattooed. Then she can find her cubs and be monitored through her collar.
"We definitely want to emphasize that our dogs work hard, but the FWP have been a huge help when there’s enough bears to overwhelm our dogs," the family told MTN News. "They are very humane and a huge asset in assisting our ranch."