Wednesday, February 01, 2023
25.0°F

Wildlife officials euthanize North Fork grizzly

| June 14, 2022 7:00 AM

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks bear management specialists euthanized a 22-year-old male grizzly bear that was spending a great deal of time near homes and was habituated to people in the North Fork area of the Flathead River.

FWP specialists recently received reports from landowners that the bear was appearing in yards near people. The bear was captured May 26. Its teeth were in extremely poor condition.

The decision was made to euthanize the bear May 27 in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and 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.”

Also, wildlife officials captured two grizzly bears in the lower Blackfoot Valley on Sunday, May 29. One was relocated to a remote area the next day and the other was euthanized due to an old injury that led to a serious infection.

The two-year-old female grizzlies were remaining close to homes along Highway 200, approximately 10 miles up the Blackfoot Valley from the town of Bonner.

In consultation with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) crews trapped the bears as a proactive measure to prevent conflicts in this rural neighborhood and to better assess an injury spotted on one of the bears.

FWP biologists worked with a local veterinarian to diagnose the bear’s injury and determine if treatment was an option. The bear had a serious infection, stemming from an old injury that had caused the bear to lose its foot.

Specialists were unable to determine the cause because too much time had passed since the injury occurred; causes could include a trap, gunshot wound or natural accident.

The infection had progressed to a point that the bear had to be euthanized. The other grizzly was relocated to a remote area near the headwaters of Boles Creek.

FWP specialists work to help landowners and communities avoid bear conflicts. Montana is bear country with populations of grizzly and black bears that frequent higher and lower elevations, especially river corridors. Preventing a conflict is easier than dealing with one.

If you see a bear or bear sign near your residence or need to report a conflict, please call your local bear specialist at the contact number found on FWP’s website: fwp.mt.gov/conservation/wildlife-management/bear/contact.

Here are some tips for avoiding bear conflicts:

  • 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.

For more information on living, working, and recreating in Montana’s bear country, visit the FWP Bear Aware website at https://fwp.mt.gov/conservation/wildlife-management/bear/be-bear-aware.