Montana Issues Ominous Warning for Hunters as Fall Season Begins

by Amy Myers

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks urges hunters to stay alert as fall hunting season approaches. The further into the woods they venture, the more likely they are to come face to face with a grizzly bear. According to the department’s press release, the grizzly population has exploded in the western two-thirds of the state. Hunters in Montana will soon take their bows to the woods for archery season which lasts until October 17. However, the state’s department advises that these gamesmen be aware of their surroundings and know the signs of bear activity.

“Some areas with dense concentrations of grizzly bears are very accessible to hunters, especially during the archery season,” the FWP shared, adding that hunters should consider traveling in small groups. “This can help you make casual noise to alert bears to your presence, and it may also increase your chances survival in the event of a bear attack.”

Hunters should also be able to identify bear skat on nearby trails and be alert for any fresh footprints. Once they’ve made a kill, hunters should field gut and exit the area quickly. This is to ensure that they will not attract any unwanted opponents. And in the unfortunate circumstance that they might see a grizzly bear, the Montana FWP tells hunters to carry bear spray and to “be prepared to use it immediately.”

Of course, Montana hunters cannot hunt grizzly bears since they are on the endangered species list.

Montana Grizzly Bear Population Doubles Since 1970s, Effects Hunters and Ranchers

As many Montana natives know, grizzly bears are a common resident in the state’s more wild regions. The Rocky Mountain Front has become a refuge for grizzlies since 1975. Back in the 1980s, there were only 386 in the region. Now, that number has more than tripled, as over 1,000 grizzly bears now roam the Front. However, this wasn’t good news to everyone.

Besides hunters, Montana ranchhands were not so happy with the increasing population of grizzly bears. While protection of the species was important, the ranchers were also losing their livestock to the cause. With no way to fend them off, they likely felt powerless against the apex predators roaming their fields for a meal.

Hoping to find a happy medium, Montana biologists like Mike Madel sought out ranchers to hear their concerns about their wild neighbors. Of course, their main complaint was that their cattle were essentially sitting ducks. So, Madel and other authorities worked to move “troublemaker” bears to less populated areas. That way, they couldn’t easily prey on cattle and calves, a habit which Val Keefer of The Conservation Fund says is hard to break.

As long as the two species – grizzlies and humans, that is – keep their space, they live in harmony.

“There’s a lot of Rocky Mountain Front ranchers that like to see grizzly bears on their land, and they understand that they’re providing grizzly bear habitat,” Madel shared.