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Montana Bears

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks bear management specialists are located in Bozeman, Choteau, Missoula and Kalispell. They are responsible for the state's black and grizzly bear populations. Bear managers educate the public on how to live safely with bears and oversee the health and well being of Montana's grizzly and black bear populations. Their work includes population and habitat studies, radio collaring or otherwise marking bears, and trapping and relocating bears that come in conflict with humans.

Bear managers also must decide when to euthanize a bear that fails to avoid human sources of food and becomes a public-safety risk. A bear with no history of contact with humans can make a bear manager's day. A bear that stays away from humans and does not look to residences, city landfills or other locations as potential food sources is more likely to live out a natural life.

The following images of Montana's bears provide an inside look at bear management work underway in Montana, and some of Montana's bears.

Be Bear Aware
Two subadult grizzly bears walked so near a residence in Ferndale in May 2010 that the landowner was able to take this photograph.
(Last Modified March 01, 2011)
Be Bear Aware
Two subadult grizzly bears in May 2010 walked so near to a private residence near Ferndale that the landowner was able to take this photograph.
(Last Modified March 01, 2011)
Be Bear Aware
Two Swedish biologists, on the right, assisted FWP in Region 1 near Kalispell for a week in 2010 to gain experience working with bears. Here a black bear is examined and radio collared. The Swedish biologists plan to return in 2011.
(Last Modified March 01, 2011)
Be Bear Aware
A young male grizzly bear broke into several chicken coops last summer in FWP's Region 1 near Kalispell. Check for information on electric fencing on these web pages to prevent damage by bears to chicken coops, bee hives and other sites.
(Last Modified March 01, 2011)
DNA Hair Analysis
Strands of grizzly bear hair are shown here caught on a barbed-wire fence near Creston. Hair samples such as this are used to identify specific bears by DNA analysis in Montana. The lighter colored tips (commonly referred to as 'silvertip') are a clear indication this hair is from a grizzly bear.
(Last Modified April 08, 2008)
Rare Image of Grizzlies at Play
Two young male grizzly bears met for the first time at the Montana Wildlife Center in Helena while preparing to be sent to a zoo in Colorado Springs that agreed to take both bears, provided FWP could arrange to test their compatibility. The bears, who are not related, were causing problems in different parts of the Flathead Valley in 2006 and 2007 before being caputured. This image is of the very moment the bears came into contact with each other for the first time. Their immediate reaction was to play. They bonded and became virtually inseparable. They now reside in a special habitat created for them at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Their's is a rare story of survival. Most bears, grizzly and black, must be destroyed once they become food conditioned. Only a very few spaces are available in zoos.
(Last Modified April 08, 2008)
Wild Bear Removed From The Wild
A two-year old male grizzly bear was captured by FWP bear managers following repeated incidents of raiding garbage cans and other attractants near Ferndale. After several failed attempts to change this bear's behavior, he was finally removed from the wild and relocated to a zoo in Colorado.
(Last Modified April 08, 2008)
Bear Dog Meets Grizzly
A female grizzly bear is sedated and fitted with a radio tracking collar after capture for raiding garbage cans in northeastern Flathead Valley.While the bear is still sedated, Karelian bear dog "Usko" is introduced to her. Karelian bear dogs are sometimes used by FWP to assist in various aspects of grizzly conflict mangement and have proven to be a valuable tool to bear managers.
(Last Modified April 08, 2008)
Nothing Sadder Than A Grizzly Behind Bars
A young male grizzly bear awaits release following his capture for raiding garbage cans and chicken coops near Ferndale, Montana. Bear managers relocated him in a remote area of the Swan mountain range, but he was soon back in the same area repeating the same behavor and was ultimately removed to a zoo in Colorado.
(Last Modified April 08, 2008)
Young Ferndale Grizzly Fitted With Radio Collar
A young grizzly bear captured and sedated near Ferndale is fitted with a radio collar to help bear managers track him after his release in an attempt to keep him out of trouble and in the wild.
(Last Modified April 07, 2008)
Grizzly in Ferndale Collared and Relocated
A young male grizzly bear is sedated outside a home near Fernale following his capture for repeatedly raiding garbage cans and chicken coops in the area. Lori Roberts (left) and Heather Reich (center) monitor the bear while grizzly management specialist Tim Manley prepares a radio-tracking collar. The collar will help bear managers track the bear after his release, in an attempt to keep him out of trouble and in the wild.
(Last Modified April 07, 2008)
Two Male Grizzly Bears Become Best Friends
Two year old male grizzly bears are shown here resting after playing together at the Montana Wildlife Center in Helena. The two bears were removed from the wild for repeated conflicts with humans. Though they are not siblings, they were captured in different locations of the Flathead valley. One bear was captured in 2006 and spent the winter at the Wildlife Center while awaiting the completion of a habitat at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colorado. When the second bear was captured in 2007, the zoo agreed to take both bears, provided they would get along together. They were introduced in July 2007 at the Wildlife Center and immediately bonded with each other. They now reside together at the Colorado zoo.
(Last Modified April 07, 2008)
Female Grizzly Relocated in 2007
Female grizzly with two cubs repeatedly raided frut trees and garbage cans and was captured and relocated in 2007. Here the bear sleeps while awaiting release from a snare. She was captured north of Lake Blaine in the Flathead valley.
(Last Modified April 07, 2008)
Karelian Bear Dogs Study Bear
Two Karelian bear dogs used by FWP in managing grizzly bears in northwestern Montana are shown here examining a large male grizzly. The Karelian bear dogs are trained to "shepherd" grizzly bears away from a site with barking and other aversive conditioning tools that a bear manager may employ to condition a grizzly bear to avoid people and remain under cover. This grizzly bear was sedated after being unintentionally caught in a baited trap set for a female grizzly. The bear was identified and released.
(Last Modified April 06, 2007)
Two Yearling Grizzly Cubs
These two yearling grizzly cubs were trapped at the same time their mother was trapped to be collared for the grizzly bear population trend study underway in northwestern Montana. The bears are shown here coming out of sedation. These cubs soon went on their own and began to frequent homes for food. They were repeatedly trapped and relocated but were not able to be rehabilitated and they eventually had to be removed from the population. One was euthanized and FWP was able to place the other at a zoo in Colorado Springs.
(Last Modified April 06, 2007)
A Wild Northern Grizzly Bear
This large male grizzly bear was sedated in the North Fork of the Flathead after being trapped May 2006 in a culvert trap originally set to capture a female grizzly. When first spotted by video monitoring the fall of 2005 he was wearing a radio collar, but FWP bear managers scanned all frequencies and couldn't identify the bear. Later he dropped the radio collar. Once sedated the bear's ear tag identified it as a bear involved in research being conducted in British Columbia. Bears travel long distances and large male grizzly bears may have ranges of 250 to 300 square miles. This bear was released and its location today is unknown.
(Last Modified April 06, 2007)
Black Bear In A Tree
This black bear was trapped in the Flathead Valley after it began to get into garbage and other bear attractants. It was released in the Swan Valley for a fresh start. Immediately after exiting the trap the bear climbed this tree.
(Last Modified April 06, 2007)
Sedated Female Grizzly And Cubs Waking Up
A female grizzly bear and her two cubs trapped near Crystal Lakes in northwestern Montana recover from sedation. The adult female was fitted with a GPS radio tracking collar and will be monitored as part of a grizzly bear population trend study being conducted in northwestern Montana.
(Last Modified April 06, 2007)
Grizzly Bear Enjoys Freedom In The Fall
A three year old female grizzly bear trapped as part of a grizzly population study being conducted in Northwestern Montana enjoys a fall day in Glacier National Park after bear managers fitted her with a GPS collar and released her.
(Last Modified April 06, 2007)
Food-Seeking Female Grizzly
An adult female grizzly was trapped southwest of Columbia Falls after making repeated trips into developed areas looking for food with her two cubs. The stress of having to feed cubs pushed her into looking for additional food sources in areas she wouldn't visit if she didn't have the cubs to feed. The added danger is that her cubs will learn from her to find food in developed areas and carry these behaviors into adulthood. This bear was relocated and bear managers will watch to see what happens this year.
(Last Modified April 06, 2007)
Large Male Grizzly Shows Battle Scars
This aged male grizzly bear, at about 25 years of age, is a long-time surviver in the Whitefish area. This bear was in good health at the time it was captured, despite war wounds from past bear fights. This bear has no history of conflict with humans. A VHF radio collar was put on him to study his range which overlaps with another large, aged male grizzly captured nearby.
(Last Modified April 06, 2007)
A Wild Bear of Montana From Near Whitefish
This large old male grizzly was caught in a leg snare near Whitefish set by bear managers to capture female grizzlies for a population trend monitoring project. He was released after being fitted with a VHF radio collar to allow study of his home range. This bear was 20-25 years old with no history of being near or coming into conflict with people.
(Last Modified April 06, 2007)
A Wild Bear Attempts To Avoid People
This curious little black bear unsuspectingly ambled out of the bushes next to the road where FWP bear managers were loading their six Karelian bear dogs and equipment to go to work. The bear darted past them and climbed a nearby tree, later moving away on its own.
(Last Modified April 06, 2007)
Grizzly Bear Population Monitoring--Glacier Park
This 3-year old female grizzly was trapped and fitted with a GPS satellite tracking collar and released to be part of the grizzly bear population study being carried out by FWP in northwestern Montana. By using remote cameras to monitor the traps, FWP avoided trapping this bear on other later occassions when she showed up at new trapping sites to try to obtain the bait used in the traps. Grizzly bears are extremely quick to learn news ways of finding food.
(Last Modified April 06, 2007)
Grizzly Bear Population Monitoring
A grizzly sow and yearling cub were trapped in 2006 and fitted with a GPS radio tracking collar as part of a population trend study being conducted in northwestern Montana to determine the status of the grizzly bear population. The bears are coming out of sedation here after being trapped near Crystal Lakes.
(Last Modified April 06, 2007)
Bear Proofing Public Sites--Upper Yaak Green Box Site
In the Upper Yaak, the County Department of Environmental Health and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks opened a "green box site" where dumpsters are enclosed within chain link, barb wire and electric fencing. To further protect bears, the dumpsters are available only from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the months of May to October. For more on using electric fences to create bear proof spaces, contact an FWP bear manager.
(Last Modified April 03, 2007)
Bear-Proofing Public Sites--Upper Yaak III
A third view of the bear-proof "green box" site in the Upper Yaak created by the County Department of Environmental Health and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. For more on using electric fences to create bear proof spaces, contact an FWP bear manager.
(Last Modified April 03, 2007)
Bear Proofing Public Sites--Upper Yaak II
Another view of a "green box site" opened in the Upper Yaak by the County Department of Environmental Health and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Here dumpsters are enclosed within chainlink, barb wire and electric fences. To further protect bears, the dumpsters are only available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the months of May to October. For more on using electric fences to create bear proof spaces, contact an FWP bear manager.
(Last Modified April 03, 2007)
Bear Proofing County Landfill Dumps--Dumpster Trap
Bears that become accustomed to finding food near residences or businesses can become overly comfortable in the presence of humans and eventually present a safety threat. In 2006, Fish, Wildlife & Parks game warden Jon Obst, with the help of county landfill employees, converted a dumpster into a bear trap to trap and remove a Libby bear repeatedly feeding in a dumpster at the Halfway House Restaurant. Businesses and residences with garbage that repeatedly attract bears have the option of saving bears lives by installing bear resistant garbage containers. For more on bear resistant products, contact your local FWP bear manager or FWP regional office.
(Last Modified April 02, 2007)
Bear Proofing County Landfill Dumps--Dumpster-Diving Bear
In 2006, Fish, Wildlife & Parks game warden Jon Obst with the help of county landfill employees captured this black bear at the Halfway House restuarant on Bull Lake Road in Libby using a dumpster turned into a bear trap.
(Last Modified April 02, 2007)
Monitoring Bears--Night Photography
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks uses various means to monitor and track bears in its bear management work. This is an image of a grizzly bear in northwestern Montana taken by a night photography system devised by FWP grizzly bear specialist Tim Manley in FWP Region 1 in Kalispell.
(Last Modified April 02, 2007)