Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks biologists have euthanized the second grizzly bear in a month that was getting into trouble with people living south of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex.
Over the weekend, FWP bear biologist James Jonkel conferred with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and agreed to put down a sub-adult male grizzly that had repeatedly tried get into a Blackfoot Valley barn to feed on grain.
Jonkel said in a release that the behavior showed the young bear had learned to associate people and their dwellings with food. If the bear had been allowed to live, his food-conditioned habit would continue to cause problems for him and possibly for people.
“In 2018, we had the highest bear conflict year on record in the Blackfoot,” Jonkel said in a release. “Some of what we’re seeing now is young bears that were taught bad behavior last year are returning and looking for livestock feed and other attractants.”
Last year was notable probably because wildfires during the summer of 2017 and the heavy winter snow of early 2018 had driven grizzlies more toward the valley floor. There, they found an abundance of berries.
But they also found all the attractants that people leave outside, such as garbage, bird and pet food, livestock feed and chickens. Unfortunately, it appears a few bears remembered the smorgasbord of last summer and decided to try again this year.
On April 23, FWP biologists put down another young male grizzly that was believed to have killed three calves in the Helmville area southeast of the Blackfoot valley.
To avoid having to eliminate more bears, Jonkel urged those living in areas surrounding the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex to keep attractants locked up or behind electric fences. That way, they’ll be safe from bears and bears won’t have a reason to keep coming around.
“If bears are able to find these things easily, then they tend to stay in the area looking for more,” Jonkel said.