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Please Don't Feed The Bears -- It's The Law

Friday, August 31, 2001

Fish & Wildlife

Feeding wild game is too often a common practice in some parts of Montana.

"Few people seem to realize it is against the law in this state to feed wild game," said Beate Galda, FWP Enforcement Division chief."This year the Legislature clarified the law, Section 87-3-130 of the Montana code, and made it clear bears are included under it."

A person is liable under the law if they provide supplemental feed (defined as food, garbage or any other attractant for game animals) to attract a bear or, if after being warned, they fail to properly store supplemental feed and allow bears access to it.It is also against the law to provide feed attractants resulting in an artificial concentration of game animals that may contribute to the transmission of disease or create a threat to public safety. Normal feeding of livestock, cultivation of a lawn or garden or the commercial processing of garbage are not included under this law.

"Sadly, every year we are forced to remove and relocate or destroy bears that have become conditioned to rely on food attractants.Over time they become bolder and bolder, until people finally call us to solve the problem," Galda said."The best solution is to prevent bears' access to food attractants so they never become conditioned to look for these foods or to be near humans."

The penalty for feeding or attracting bears is a fine of $50 to $1,000 and/or imprisonment for up to six months.Details of MCA 87-3-130 can be found in a book of the Montana Codes or on the Internet at www.lawlibrary.state.mt.us, select Montana Code and click again on Montana Code on the search page that appears.