Two grizzlies were killed in Paradise Valley on Tuesday, Sept. 20 in separate incidents, according to a Friday afternoon press release from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
A female grizzly with a cub was captured on private land in the Gardiner Basin. In the weeks leading up to capture, the FWP reports the bear had broken into a fenced compound, regularly visited a home with no readily available food sources and killed chickens that had been secured by electric fencing.
The bear was reportedly undeterred by efforts to chase it away, which included rubber bullets, paintballs and electric fencing. The FWP release states the bear had been captured and relocated twice because of similar conflicts. The bear’s cub was also captured and will be sent to a zoo, according to the FWP.
Also on Sept. 20, a group of hunters on private land west of Emigrant shot and killed an adult male grizzly in self-defense, FWP reports.
Days earlier near Rock Creek in the Tom Miner Basin, a group of hunters said they were charged by a grizzly. One hunter shot at the bear with a pistol, causing the bear to flee. The U.S. Forest Service restricted access to the area while searching for the bear on the ground and by helicopter, according to the release. The area was reopened after no tracks or signs of an injured bear were found.
As expected in late summer into fall, bear activity is increasing as they seek food to prepare for hibernation. In the release, FWP urged Montanans to “be bear aware.”
Game wardens have also responded to multiple black bears encounters in residential areas around Big Sky, Belgrade, Bozeman, Butte, and Helena. These bears were drawn to garbage and unsecured attractants, according to Montana FWP. The department reported that several black bears were killed due to human safety risks as a result.
Michelle Uberuaga, executive director of the Park County Environmental Council, says that between climate change and increasing population, Montana will continue to see more interactions between humans and bears. She added that the typical newcomer to Montana is “really excited about living in a wild place,” and wants to support the wellbeing of native species including bears.
“Grizzly bear food sources are changing,” she said. “They’re moving into lower country, looking for new and different food sources.”
Uberuaga believes Montana residents can do a better job locking up garbage indoors or in bear-proof dumpsters, packing-out trash and food scraps in the backcountry, and staying informed about bear activity near trails and campsites.
“The most important responsibility,” Uberuaga said, “is on those of us who live here. Especially those living on wild land, we have a responsibility to make sure there aren’t attractants in our yards, and our garbage is locked up. I don’t think it’s visitors [to Montana] that are the issue.”