Three black bears were shot and killed near Monarch in the Little Belt Mountains on Sunday.
Bruce Auchly of Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks confirmed to MTN News on Monday that the bears were shot by an FWP employee.
A homeowner in the area told MTN News Monday that family members were outside on Sunday afternoon when an adult black bear and two cubs came into their yard. The family dog, named Chief, jumped off the deck and ran toward the adult bear, and the bear grabbed the dog and ran off.
A family member then went after the bear with bear spray, but couldn’t stop the bear. The bear ran around to the side of the house and with her cubs ate the dog, according to the person. The person told MTN News in an email: "I think my family is very fortunate that the bear didn’t turn on them with her cubs right there."
The person said the bears stayed in the yard for about three hours; a game warden arrived eventually arrived and shot and killed the bears.
Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks stressed the importance of being vigilant and cautious in bear country, especially as we move toward the winter months. Residents should clear their yards of any food every night, never feed bears, and lock up all barbecue pits and garbage cans when they are not in use.
FWP regional information officer Bruce Auchly says that humans must do more to avoid run-ins like this one: “We as humans can do a better job of policing and cleaning up after ourselves, because when we don’t, we can attract animal. It can be things like skunks or raccoons, or in this case a bear. The things we need to be aware of, when we’re talking about bears, is not leaving pet food out overnight, picking up apples that have fallen from the tree by your house, not leaving out the greasy barbecue pit, put it away in the garage overnight.”
On Sept. 13, MTN News received a message from a woman who lives very close to where this happened. She told us that she called FWP about a mother bear and her cubs in the area, and that FWP set a trap. FWP could not confirm that these were the same three bears from Sunday's incident.
FWP is working with residents to clean up food that might be left out in the area. According to Auchly, once a bear associates humans with food, it may be hard to keep them from entering your property, whether you have food on the premises or not.