KALISPELL — State wildlife officials specialists euthanized a grizzly bear that frequented near homes and was habituated to people in the North Fork area of the Flathead River.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) specialists recently received reports from landowners of the bear appearing in yards around people. The bear was captured on May 26.
FWP officials note the animal's teeth were in extremely poor condition and the adult male was estimated to be approximately 22 years old.
The decision was made to euthanize the bear on May 27 in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and by Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee guidelines.
“This bear had grown comfortable around people, which is unnatural and unsafe for people and wildlife,” said Justine Vallieres, FWP grizzly bear management specialist. “The bear’s health condition was also poor due to its teeth and age. All of these factors created an increasing likelihood for potential conflict in an area where people live.”
FWP notes Montana is bear country and preventing a conflict is easier than dealing with one.
FWP offers the following advice:
- Bear spray is a highly effective, non-lethal bear deterrent. Carry EPA-approved bear spray and know how to use it.
- Grizzly bears can be deterred from areas near homes using USFWS guidelines for hazing grizzly bears. This helps reinforce bears’ fear of people.
- Don’t let grizzly bears linger in your yard or in close proximity to home or other structures because this can lead to habituation. Call an FWP specialist to help deter bears if you are not comfortable or able to do so.
- Notify your neighbors if you do observe a grizzly bear in the area to help make others aware.
- Never feed wildlife, especially bears. Bears that become food conditioned lose their natural foraging behavior and pose a threat to human safety. And it is illegal to feed bears in Montana.
- Always keep a safe distance from wildlife. Never approach a bear.
- Remove or secure food attractants. Bear-resistant containers and a properly constructed electrified fence are proven effective at deterring bears.
If you see a bear near your residence or need to report a conflict, please call your local bear specialist at the contact number found at https://fwp.mt.gov/conservation/wildlife-management/bear/contact.