Garbage-eating bear captured near Marion

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Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Director Martha Williams, left, assists Bear Management Specialist Tim Manley, center, and Region 1 Wildlife Manager Neil Anderson, right, with the immobilization and processing of the subadult grizzly bear that was moved from the McGregor Lake area. (Photo by Dillon Tabish, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks)

A male grizzly bear that was getting into garbage was captured by state wildlife officials April 28 near McGregor Lake. The bear was released in a remote location in the Kootenai National Forest.

According to Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the approximately 3-year-old bear weighing 246 pounds had been frequenting residential areas and eating bird seed and garbage around McGregor Lake and Little Bitterroot Lake near Marion. Residents reported several sightings of the bear. The animal did not have any prior conflicts, according to FWP.

Bear management specialist Tim Manley set a culvert trap in the area and captured the animal on the night of April 28. The bear was fitted with a GPS radio collar for future monitoring. FWP Director Martha Williams assisted Manley and Region 1 Wildlife Manager Neil Anderson with the immobilization and processing of the bear.

In consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service, FWP moved the bear on May 1 to the Big Creek drainage on the west side of Lake Koocanusa on the Rexford Ranger District.

The capture site was located between two grizzly bear recovery areas: the Northern Continental Divide and Cabinet-Yaak ecosystems. The state wildlife agency said the release area is remote habitat within the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem, encompassing the Yaak Valley and the Cabinet and Purcell mountain ranges in northwest Montana and northeast Idaho.

The Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, encompassing Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex and most of northwest Montana, is home to the largest population of grizzlies in the lower 48 states, with an estimated 1,000 bears. The Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem is home to a much smaller grizzly population with an estimated 53 bears.

Now that bears are active, wildlife officials advise people to remove or secure food attractants such as garbage and bird feeders to avoid conflicts.

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