HELENA — Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) have moved a male grizzly bear that was captured near Avon on May 6, and euthanized another that was captured south of Lewistown on Wednesday.
Over the past month, several grizzly bears have been confirmed in the area of Ophir Creek area northeast of Avon. The sightings were in close proximity to cattle calving grounds on local ranches.
A grizzly killed a yearling cow in early April in the vicinity, and bears have continued to remain in the area since then.
Wildlife staff moved the bear out of the immediate area as a measure to help prevent further livestock loss during the spring calving season. They took the 429-pound male to a more remote area in the upper Blackfoot Valley.
FWP notes that other grizzly bears remain in the area, and FWP staff is working with local ranches to help secure livestock and other attractants to help prevent any future conflicts.
In recent weeks another grizzly/cattle conflict was reported south of Lewistown. That bear was euthanized Wednesday, May 12 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services after it was confirmed to have killed a cow in the Big Snowy Mountains.
The 6-year-old, 447 lbs bear was first reported last week after a remote camera captured images of it feeding on a cow carcass. Traps were set over the weekend following the discovery of a second cow carcass with bear sign nearby. Wildlife Services technicians confirmed evidence that the bear had killed both cows.
Factors influencing the decision to euthanize the Lewistown-area bear included the age and sex of the bear, as well as its location well outside of identified connectivity corridors between the Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide grizzly populations.
FWP says ranchers can reduce the risk of depredation by setting up electric fencing for small calving pastures, pens, and corrals. FWP also recommends distributing livestock away from brushy cover and creeks during the spring and summer when bears frequently travel along these areas can also help. Additionally, putting salt, mineral, and creep feeders out in the open away from brush and water can prevent problems. Removing or electric fencing bone piles will also help prevent bears from being drawn in near homes and herds.
Residents living in towns and around towns should also take spets to reduce attractants that can lead to bear conflict. Attractants can include things like pet food, garbage, barbecue grills, and bird feeders. These sorts of items should be secured to prevent attracting wandering bears.
To reach the FWP west-central Montana bear specialist, call Jamie Jonkel at 406-542-5508. In cases of depredation or wounded livestock, call your local USDA Wildlife Services agent.