Montana Officials Detail Why They Euthanized Grizzly Bear Near Yellowstone

by Craig Garrett
Grizzly Bear at Kukak Bay in Katmai National Park - stock photo

A grizzly bear that became too comfortable around humans was put down Wednesday, after it was caught near Yellowstone National Park. On Thursday, officials with the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Department stated that the adult female bear had a long history of confrontations. It had been relocated twice before being captured Tuesday on private property, USA Today reports.

“In the weeks prior to the capture, the bear had broken into a fenced compound, frequented a home that had no unsecured attractants or natural foods, and killed chickens secured by electric fencing,” FWP explained. “The bear was largely undeterred by hazing efforts, which included rubber bullets, paintballs, electric fencing and noise-making devices.”

After conferring with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the decision was made to euthanize the bear. The mother bear had a small cub, which will be kept in captivity at the zoo. According to FWP, grizzly bears are active as they try to consume enough food to last them through hibernation, and this has led to increased conflict with humans.

This is just one in a series of recent grizzly bear encounters

On Tuesday, an adult male grizzly bear was killed west of Emigrant by hunters after the Gardiner Basin capture. The hunters said they were acting in self-defense. On September 14th, hunters in the Tom Miner Basin area reported being charged by a grizzy bear. One of the hunters shot the bear with a pistol, however, ground and helicopter crews searching for the animal were unable to locate it.

In residential areas such as Bozeman, Big Sky, Belgrade, Helena and Butte, conflicts with black bears have grown. After several black bears broke into areas with unsecured food sources, posing a danger to the public, they were sadly euthanized.

FWP stated that every single region in Montana has grizzly bears. If people want to stop these wild creatures from becoming used to human presence and attractions like garbage cans, bird feeders, and pet food bowls, then proper safety measures need to be put into place. When you’re out in nature or the backcountry away from towns and houses, always bring bear spray with you just in case. Plus take whatever extra steps are necessary to lower the risk of an accidental encounter.

What to do in a bear encounter

The National Park Service advises not to drop your pack and not to give the black bear any food. They also stress not to make direct eye contact. Another thing they suggest is to travel in groups. Finally, the NPS urges folks not to climb trees to escape wild animals. Black bears in particular are terrific climbers.

The NPS stresses that bear attacks are extremely rare. Most bears mind their own business if not antagonized by humans. However, they do have some tips in the event of an attack. Interestingly, they strongly urge people to not play dead with black bears. Playing dead works with their brown cousins, though. They urge you to find a car or shelter if you can. If you aren’t able to flee, try to defend yourself with whatever is accessible. The NPS says to focus your blows on the bear’s face and muzzle.