Saturday, July 11, 2020

Garbage-eating grizzly euthanized at Fortine

by Daily Inter Lake
| June 3, 2020 1:00 AM

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks recently euthanized a grizzly bear near Fortine after it became habituated to people and food-conditioned.

The agency received multiple reports of the bear, which had been captured earlier this spring south of Ferndale with two other bears after accessing food attractants near residences, was approaching residences in the Barnaby Lake area west of U.S. 93 and eating from bird feeders and climbing into the beds of vehicles to eat garbage. Multiple sightings of the bear grazing on residential lawns were also reported, and residents were unable to successfully shoo away the bear.

State wildlife management specialists set a culvert trap in the area on May 24 and captured the bear on May 25.

The adult male bear, estimated to be 3 years old and weighing approximately 235 pounds, was moved in early May to a remote section of forest near the British Columbia border.

In accordance with Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee guidelines and in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the bear was euthanized due to food-conditioning, which occurs when wildlife lose natural foraging habits, and habituation, which occurs when wildlife become comfortable around people, creating a public safety issue.

Fish, Wildlife & Parks reminds homeowners to keep food attractants secured. Attractants include garbage, pet and livestock food, birdfeeders, and fruit trees, but also include livestock, gardens, and outdoor food cookers. Chickens and livestock should be properly secured with electric fencing or inside a closed shed with a door.

Residents can call FWP regional offices to learn more about bears or to report bear activity. In Northwest Montana, call 406-752-5501.