Two grizzlies captured, relocated from Flathead Valley

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An adult male grizzly bear eats from a chokecherry tree off Conrad Drive east of Kalispell. Photo courtesy Karen Sauer.

As autumn looms and fruit trees are bountiful, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks officials have been kept busy as bears seek food sources.

FWP personnel on Tuesday captured a 2-year-old male grizzly bear off Conrad Drive near the Flathead River east of Kalispell. The area has abundant chokecherry trees, which are commonly found along rivers and streams and provide a popular natural food source for bears. The male bear was frequenting private property with the shrubs, according to a press release from the state agency.

Additionally, the grizzly began eating from unsecured residential garbage cans, which can lead to food conditioning. A food-conditioned animal actively seeks unnatural food rewards, has lost its natural foraging behavior, and can be dangerous.

FWP moved the bear to a remote area near the Spotted Bear River after consulting the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and in accordance with Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee guidelines.

On Wednesday, FWP personnel captured a 2-to-3-year-old female grizzly bear off Farm to Market Road near the Stillwater River west of Whitefish. The bear was eating from chokecherry trees on private property. It was not eating from garbage or causing other conflicts but displayed behavior that it appeared habituated to people. Wildlife that become habituated are unnaturally comfortable around people and pose a risk to public safety.

The agency moved the bear to another remote area near the Spotted Bear River on the edge of the Bob Marshall Wilderness after consulting the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and in accordance with Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee guidelines.

Bear management specialists will be in Polebridge on Saturday, Aug. 24, for an educational event focused on living and recreating safely in bear country. The free event is from noon to 3 p.m. at the Northern Lights Saloon and is sponsored by North Fork Preservation Association, North Fork Landowners Association, North Fork Trails Association, Montana Outdoor Legacy Foundation, Northern Lights Saloon and Polebridge Mercantile.

Montana is bear country with populations of grizzly and black bears that frequent higher and lower elevations, especially river corridors. Bear are increasingly active in the fall months seeking food before denning season.

Residents are asked to remove or secure food attractants such as garbage, bird feeders and bird seed. Homeowners should stay at least 100 yards away from wildlife and try to haze animals off their property with loud noises. Chickens and other livestock should be properly secured with electric fencing or inside a closed shed with a door. Domestic fruit should be picked up as soon as possible.

Residents are encouraged to report bear activity as soon as possible. To report grizzly bear activity in the greater Flathead Valley, call FWP bear management specialists at (406) 250-1265. To report black bear and mountain lion activity in the greater Flathead Valley, call (406) 250-0062). To report bear activity in the Cabinet-Yaak area, call (406) 291-1320.

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