BILLINGS – Those with Fish Wildlife and Parks are sending a warning to Billings area residents surrounding recent wildlife sightings, including black bears and mountain lions reported wandering through neighborhoods and parks.
Bob Gibson with FWP, said outside of town, black bears have tipped over garbage cans, peeked indoors and even attacked small livestock.
Gibson says the presence of black bears; mountain lions and other wildlife should come as no surprise.
“After all Billings abuts some of the best habitats in the state, along the Yellowstone River riparian corridor and between the rimrocks and steppes north of town and the timbered hills, berry-rich creeks and the Pryor Mountains to the south,” said Gibson in a recent press release.
Wild animals and people don’t mix too well, according to Gibson and especially when wildlife get aggressive as they search for food.
“That is where people can help keep themselves safe and the animals out of trouble by being vigilant and removing any opportunity for bears to seek or find food in or around their homes, businesses, and vehicles,” he said.
So what to do to avoid conflict?
Open garbage cans, fruit on the ground under trees and other attractants are common in some neighborhoods. In addition, compost piles, beehives, and livestock food can attract hungry animals.
Gibson said residents should store all garbage, barbecue grills, pet food, horse pellets and livestock feed in a locked building.
Remove bird feeders and clean up apples, berries and other potential food sources from their yard. Bear-proofing also includes thoroughly cleaning decks and patios around barbecue areas to remove odors from previous cooking.
For larger attractants, such as compost piles, electric fencing provides a deterrent.
He says, if wild animals don’t find food in one location, they will look elsewhere and will usually not stay where they find only clean, bear-proofed homes.
“Berries and other natural foods are in ample supply this year, so bears will look elsewhere if they do not find attractants near homes,” said Gibson.
Reporting by Andrea Lutz for MTN News