Have fun while learning how to live with Missoula’s urban bears on Saturday, Sept. 6. The Grant Creek/North Hills Bear Fair runs from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s visitor center, 5705 Grant Creek Road (north of the I-90, Reserve Street interchange).
Attractions beginning at 9:30 a.m. include a chance to view films on bears from the International Wildlife Film Festival and numerous displays by organizations that work on behalf of bear conservation.
Benson’s Gardens will have a display about plants that attract hummingbirds without creating an unnatural attraction for bears (as hanging sugar solution feeders do).
Kids who toss a rope over a tree limb to hang a sack of attractants out of a bear's reach will get a bite of the goodies inside.
Participants will also have the chance to see a variety of electric fences that can be used to keep bears away from dumpsters, compost piles, chicken coops, bird feeders and apple orchards. Campers can view a lightweight portable fence—one available method to protect food and other attractants from bears in the backcountry.
Beginning at 1 p.m., Girl Scouts will lead hikes on a short “Bear Aware Trail” where participants will learn techniques for spotting signs of bear activity, prepare for what to do in the case of a bear encounter and watch how to set up a safe campsite in bear country.
Then, at 2 p.m., guests will have the chance to make plaster casts of bear tracks.
Afternoon demonstrations will also include how and when to use bear spray to prevent a bear attack. Participants can practice using inert spray—a practice canister that looks like the real thing but doesn’t have the same effects.
The event is free of charge, and hot dogs and ice cream will be available for purchase.
The Montana Natural History Center is sponsoring a Saturday morning “Missoula’s Urban Bears Discovery Day” bus outing in Grant Creek in conjunction with the Bear Fair.
The tour, led by Jamie Jonkel, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) bear management specialist, will take participants to sites with a history of bear activity and showcase efforts that are helping to reduce bear conflicts, such as bear-resistant dumpsters and electric fencing. Participants will also have a chance to see important bear habitat in the area, including wildlife movement corridors and natural food sources. The outing costs $10 for Natural History Center members and $15 for nonmembers. Reservations are required. Call 327-0405 for details and to make reservations.
Bear Fair participants include: Benson’s Gardens; Center for Wildlife Information; Defenders of Wildlife; Friends of Grant Creek, Inc.; Girl Scout Troops 832 (Missoula) and 330 (Frenchtown); Great Bear Foundation; Hellgate Hunters and Anglers; International Wildlife Film Festival and Media Center; Montana Natural History Center; Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation; Vital Ground; the Wind River Bear Institute and FWP.