BILLINGS — A bear that was killed in south Billings Wednesday morning may have been one of those looking for food earlier this year.
“We believe so,” Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Communications Manager Bob Gibson said about the bear that was shot and killed. “We've seen at least four bears that have been in trouble south of Billings in the Blue Creek, Briarwood, landfill area all summer long. This matches the description of one of those that has been down there.”
Billings police received a call early Thursday morning about a bear near South 27th Street and Ninth Avenue South.
Officers called Fish & Wildlife for help and followed the bear to South 35th Street and Second Avenue South.
The game warden determined that trapping, tranquilizing or moving the bear were not options.
“Experience tells us that troubled bears get back in trouble as soon as you transplant them,” Gibson said. “They have a way of finding their way back to their little piece of range.
Gibson said wildlife officials have not put collars on the bears to track them, but this one matches the description of one of the bears in the area.
“It exhibited the exact same behavior getting into garbage looking for food, lost its wariness of people,” Gibson said. “All of the things we don’t like to see in a bear.”
He said some of the berries might not be growing as well on the edges of the Pryors and the Beartooths. So bears are looking for food as they get ready for winter.
“They’re in the process of stuffing themselves with anything and everything they can eat,” Gibson said. “The more protein and the more fat in it the better. They’re fattening up so they can last all winter long in hibernating.”
The advice is the same as always.
“Pick up the apples,” he said. “Keep the garbage put away. Pick up the bird feeders, temporarily at least, until winter comes. Keep the food sources away from the bears. If the bears can’t find food, they’ll go someplace else. They’re interested in food this time of year. Given no food, they will move on.”
And he said barbecue grills, pet food, horse pellets and livestock feed should be kept in a building.
“This time of year, you’ve got to watch them very carefully because they will go looking for food anywhere,” he said.