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Big grizzly wanders into Hutterite colony

Posted at 5:05 AM, Oct 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-19 07:11:54-04

VALIER – A 900-pound male grizzly bear that wandered into a garage on the Birch Creek Hutterite Colony west of Valier has been relocated.

The bear was captured on Wednesday and on Thursday it was taken to Pike Creek west of East Glacier on the Rocky Mountain Front.

“Members of the Colony tried to deter the bear from the residential area,” said Wesley Sarmento, a bear management specialist with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “However, the bear ran into an open garage to escape from people.”

Colony members called Sarmento, who tranquilized the bear and relocated it. He estimated the bear to be about eight years old.

“Members of the Colony said the bear wasn’t causing any problems,” Sarmento said. “It just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

FWP said in a Facebook post that they disclose where bears are translocated for public safety, and because it is state law. They note that typically after a release, a bear will remain in the area for a couple weeks and then often return to their normal home range.

FWP says that relocations work best at solving certain issues – like a bear showing up near a home. While the bear is away it gives residents time to get attractants secured so the animal will be less likely to return to the areas near people.

FWP noted that it is “very unlikely” that this bear will return to the area near the Colony garage. They have no evidence that this bear obtained human food and expect this bear to avoid people and settlements in the future.

With the general big game season opening October 20, FWP said in a press release that hunters should be prepared to encounter a grizzly bear anywhere in the western half of Montana. Bears are active now and will remain so until they enter their dens for the winter.

Being prepared in bear country means carrying bear spray and being ready to use it, hunting with a partner and always letting people know where you’re going. Bear spray has been shown to be more effective than a gun at stopping a charging bear.

Using a firearm requires a person to have pin-point accuracy in a stressful situation. Bear spray can be more effective because it sends out a thick, wide cloud of deterrent.

Although firearms are a legal means of self-defense, even with a federally protected species, people with a firearm defending others from a bear sometimes end up shooting the person they are trying to save.

If a hunter sees a grizzly bear, but the bear doesn’t know the hunter is there, the person should quietly leave the area and not alert the bear. If a hunter encounters a grizzly and the bear is aware of the person, then the hunter should talk calmly to the bear and back away slowly to leave the area.

“Most grizzly attacks occur when a grizzly becomes surprised,” Sarmento said. “So, it is important to avoid surprising a grizzly at short range.”

By David Sherman – MTN News