Montana Euthanizes Two Grizzly Bears After Repeated Raids on Grain Sheds

by Lauren Boisvert

Two grizzly bears were recently euthanized in Montana after several conflicts in the upper Blackfoot Valley. Over the past two months, there have been over 10 incidents involving the bears in the area. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) reported that the incidents began in mid-July when the bears raided three gran sheds in the Ovando and Woodworth areas. FWP then worked with property owners to install an electric fence.

The bears then traveled to the Monture Creek area, where they stayed close to populated areas. They also broke into a garage, barn, and another grain shed. The bears then stuck close to the Monture Creek Campground and Monture Guard Station, according to a report from KPAX.

“The bears were exhibiting bold behavior that indicates they were conditioned to unnatural food sources,” reads a statement from the FWP. “This is a habit that is very hard to break and causes human safety concerns, as bears actively pursue food and other attractants in and around homes, ranches, and other occupied areas. Unfortunately, when bears become so food conditioned, the only way to prevent further conflict or peril is through euthanization.”

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Euthanizes Two Grizzly Bears Who Became a Concern to Local Communities

The FWP consulted with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on their next steps. The Montana wildlife department set traps for the bears north of Ovando. The bears were caught earlier this week and euthanized. An unfortunate end but an all too common one as the urbanization of natural environments encroaches on wildlife habitats. Because there’s less habitat for bears, they begin wandering into neighborhoods and populated communities, searching for food.

Over seven years, 110 bears have been put down in Colorado, with 65 euthanized just this year. In Florida, communities are becoming more “bear aware,” which means bear-proofing their trash cans and outdoor fridges, and keeping close eyes on their pets. This is lowering the number of bear encounters, which leads to fewer euthanizations.

How to Stay Aware in Bear-Populated Areas

Whether you’re in Montana, Wyoming, Canada, or North Florida, it’s important to stay “bear aware.” Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has some crucial tips for staying on top of your bear safety knowledge.

The wildlife department clarifies first that “avoiding a conflict is easier than dealing with one.” First, carry and know how to use bear spray when spending any time in bear country. Additionally, never feed bears. It’s illegal in Montana, but it’s a bad idea overall. Bears who are fed start to associate humans with food, which leads to conflicts like the one reported above. It’s also important to know your bears: know the differences between black bears, grizzly bears, and brown bears. If a bear comes onto your property, loud noises are good, short-term deterrents.

Overall, the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks website has tons of resources for being bear aware, from knowing what to do if you’re hiking, camping, fishing, farming, or living in bear country.