KALISPELL – State wildlife officials report that a grizzly bear cub was recently killed in a train collision on the railroad tracks near Columbia Falls.
BNSF Railway reported hitting a grizzly bear near North Hilltop Road on November 8.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks responded and did not find any evidence of attractants at the site nor were there any additional bears involved in the crash.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was notified of the death.
FWP spokesman Dillon Tabish notes that two additional grizzly bears have died in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) in the last month.
An adult female grizzly bear was found dead near Sullivan Creek southwest of Hungry Horse Reservoir. The bear was wearing a GPS radio collar that notified FWP of the mortality.
FWP investigated the scene and determined the bear likely died of natural causes.
A separate adult female grizzly bear was found dead near Wildcat Creek west of Hungry Horse Reservoir. The bear was also wearing a GPS radio collar that notified FWP.
Upon investigation, FWP determined the animal likely died of natural causes.
Tabish notes in a news release that 48 grizzly bear mortalities have been identified in the NCDE due to a variety of circumstances, including management action, collisions, natural deaths and augmentation.
FWP notes bears are still actively seeking food sources before the winter denning season. Bears typically enter their dens by late November and early December and do no re-emerge until spring.
Residents and recreationists are urged to be “Bear Aware” and follow precautionary steps and tips to prevent conflicts.
General tips to stay safe in bear country:
Carry and know how to use bear pepper spray.
Reduce or secure food attractants, such as garbage, livestock, and bird feeders.
Stay alert and look for bear activity, especially where visibility and hearing is limited.
Watch for signs of bears such as bear scat, diggings, torn-up logs and turned over rocks, and partly consumed animal carcasses.
Make your presence known by making noise, especially when near streams or in thick forest where visibility is low. This can be the key to avoiding encounters. Most bears will avoid humans when they know humans are present.
Use caution in areas like berry patches where bears occur.
Avoid carcass sites and scavenger concentrations
If you harvest an animal at dusk, be prepared to cut up the carcass in the dark by carrying strong headlamps. Be extra vigilant and watch for bears.
Click here to learn how to “Be Bear Aware”. Residents can also call FWP regional offices to learn more about bears or to report bear activity. In northwest Montana, call (406) 752-5501.
Reporting by Mark Thorsell for MTN News