Tourists react to grizzly bear sightings near Helena

Posted at 5:53 PM, Jul 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-21 15:31:21-04

HELENA — Bear sightings near Helena were recently confirmed by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Grizzly bears or evidence of grizzlies have been recently spotted in the North Hills and Grizzly Gulch. Additionally, the bears have been seen near Clancy in the Elkhorn Mountains.

And it’s not only in the Helena area grizzlies have been spotted. They’ve been seen in the Little Belt Mountains, the Pryor Mountains, and north of Livingston in the Shields Valley. They’ve been spotted in areas they haven’t been seen for over 100 years.

Montana FWP recommends many precautions you can take in order to prevent against bear encounters and how to be safe in bear country. Among those is bear spray.

All of these sightings had MTN wondering how this might affect those recreating around the Helena area.

Jill Hartzell and her husband John, from Alberta, are on a mountain biking road trip through Montana. Recreating up outside of Banff, the couple says they frequently see grizzlies and make sure to bring along their bear spray. But here in Helena, before taking off on their bike ride, they decided against it.

“And nobody was carrying bear spray. In Whitefish, nobody was carrying bear spray. We saw people running and nobody was even like carrying anything. We’re going, ah, it’s such a warm, hot beautiful day, we didn’t, we’re not going to bring ours. So, we opted not to bring it,” says Jill.

After informing Jill about the recent bear sightings, she said they'll most likely bring the bear spray with them on any other recreation outings in the area.

“But from now on, we’re probably going to carry it,” says Jill.

Ian Shopland, also from Canada and on a mountain biking trip, is here with his son who is participating in an upcoming enduro race. Shopland says that it’s always best to be prepared.

“I just sort of always expect there to be bears in this neck of the woods,” says Shopland.