As bear activity has increased sharply, state wildlife officials urge people to clean up all bear attractants on their property.
On Tuesday alone, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Bear and Lion Specialist Erik Wenum and Bear Technician Kylie Jones received 32 calls about black bears in conflict with people, ranging from simply eating apples to attempting to break into multiple homes.
Wenum said bears are in search for the calories needed to get through the winter. During food years such as this, with huckleberries sparse and now gone and other natural foods drying up, bears are going to go to great lengths to get foods, natural or not.
“We are urging people to step up their efforts in getting attractants secured; lock up the garbage, put the pet foods inside and pick the fruit,” Wenum said.
Also on Tuesday, three black bears were caught and one was put down. Wenum said all available traps are set for other bears throughout the valley.
One bear had been rummaging through unsecured trash at a private campground for some time. The bear would walk through the central area of the campground and through volleyball games before it was euthanized Tuesday.
Wenum added that more bears may have to be euthanized, especially if people don’t clean up and secure attractants.
“It’s unfortunate when we have to kill a bear. It’s not something we enjoy doing, but when a bear is fed human foods that is typically the outcome,” he said. “If residents take responsibility and clean up all attractants, we will have fewer problems and fewer bears will need to be killed.”