900-pound grizzly bear relocated after seeking refuge in garage outside Valier


The big male grizzly bear was thought to be 8 years old. (Montana FWP)

A 900-pound male grizzly bear that sought refuge in a garage on the Birch Creek Colony west of Valier was relocated Thursday to Pike Creek, west of East Glacier on the Rocky Mountain Front, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks reported.

The grizzly ran into the building to escape a group of residents who were hazing it away from homes. It apparently wandered into the Colony, unaware of the danger to itself or the residents.

“Members of the Colony tried to deter the bear from the residential area,” said Wesley Sarmento, a FWP bear management specialist. “However, the bear ran into an open garage to escape from people.”

That’s when members of the Hutterite colony called Sarmento, who tranquilized the enormous bear so it could be relocated.

He estimated the big male is about 8 years old.

“Members of the colony said the bear wasn’t causing any problems,” Sarmento said. “It just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Sarmento urged hunters to take extra care and to carry bear spray as they venture afield for the start of the general big-game hunting season this weekend. Bear spray has proved more effective at stopping a bear’s charge than a gun. In fact, a pair of bowhunters stopped a grizzly sow’s attack last weekend with bear spray.

“Using a firearm requires a person to have pin-point accuracy in a stressful situation,” FWP officials said in a written warning Thursday. “Bear spray can be more effective because it sends out a thick, wide cloud of deterrent.”

“If a hunter observes a grizzly bear, but the bear doesn’t know the hunter is there, the person should quietly leave the area and not alert the bear,” agency officials advised. “If a hunter encounters a grizzly and the bear is aware of the person, then the hunter should talk calmly to the bear and back away slowly to leave the area.”

“Most grizzly attacks occur when a grizzly becomes surprised,” Sarmento said. “So it is important to avoid surprising a grizzly at short range.”