Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) biologists and field assistants captured a grizzly bear last week that had become too comfortable grazing near homes in the Lincoln area. Crews relocated the bear to the North Fork of the Flathead on July 22.
FWP Bear Management Specialist, Jamie Jonkel, says that the bear was mostly eating clover but did get into some bird seed, one bag of garbage and several hundred pounds of water-damaged winter wheat that was on a property on 7-Up Ranch Lane.
The bear did not have a long history of getting into these backyard food attractants, so crews decided to identify it with an ear tag and collar and relocate it to a remote part of northwest Montana.
Jonkel says that crews hope the bear will regain focus on natural food sources and not return to backyards in search of garbage, bird seed, livestock food and other attractants.
“Right now bears are busy looking for berries and as they do, they are visiting the valleys near our homes and roadways,” Jonkel says. “Unfortunately, sometimes they find easier backyard food sources along the way, so as a homeowner, it is really important to keep these things secured.”
Specifically, Jonkel reminds residents to keep garbage stored inside stout buildings or in a bear-resistant container until the day of collection, take down bird feeders until December, keep livestock and pet food indoors when not in use, and to make sure chickens and feed are in a secure building or surrounded by an electric fence.
Fruit trees will also become a major bear attractant as summer turns to fall, and homeowners should harvest fruit as soon as it ripens.
“We strongly urge residents to keep all garbage and other attractants secured until the snow flies,” Jonkel said.
Contact FWP at 406-542-5500 to learn more about how to minimize backyard bear attractants and what bear deterrent systems, such as bear-resistant garbage cans or electric fence kits, may be needed to keep attractants off-limits.