State and federal wildlife officials captured a 575-pound male grizzly Tuesday night just outside of Simms, west of Great Falls.
The 4 and half-year-old bear had been raiding beehives in the area and was caught in a snare.
“It was kind of surprising cause it was so far out from the Rocky Mountain Front,” says Mike Madel, Fish, Wildlife and Parks bear management specialist. Simms sits on the Sun River 21 miles east of Augusta and about 30 miles west of Great Falls.
Madel says the bear had not been previously in trouble or captured: “It was a new bear to us.”
The bear was relocated west of Marias Pass on the Flathead National Forest. It was fitted with a radio collar to allow wildlife officials to keep track of it.
Officials first had a report of a bear hitting a beehive Sept. 9, then nothing for almost a week and a half. A snare was set Sept. 22 after more beehives were raided and the bear was caught the next night.
“It was caught about a mile northeast of Simms along the Simms-Ashuelot Road,” says Dave Holland, FWP game warden.
In the fall, black and grizzly bears are in constant search of food before they den for the winter. Madel figures that is what brought the bear near Simms.
“The local chokecherry crop is not very good, spotty at best,” Madel says. “I’m guessing he was following the chokecherries along the Sun River and found some beehives.”
Beehives west and south of Augusta are protected by electric fencing, but so far not around Simms.
The good news, Madel says, is the huckleberry crop is very good west of the Continental Divide, where the bear was released.