Western Montana people are meeting up with bears more frequently every year. Black bears have even been on the University of Montana campus in Missoula. Meanwhile, Grizzly bears are expanding their territory along the Front Range of the Rockies and along the Sapphire Mountains in the Bitterroot.

Just last week, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) killed a grizzly bear west of Great Falls. The bear was responsible for killing four calves. Grizzlies have been becoming more numerous since being listed and protected under the Endangered Species Act. Montana FWP had to get permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before shooting the grizzly.

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But mostly in the Missoula and Bitterroot Valleys, people will be meeting black bears (which are also brown) on the trails and backcountry roads. The people who live in the WUI - the Wildland-Urban Interface - need to take extra precautions to keep bears out of their property.

Keep bears away with some simple tips

FWP annually reminds people to:

  • Take down your bird feeders in the spring.
  • Don't put your garbage can out until the day of scheduled pickup.
  • Pick domestic fruit as soon as possible, and pick up the fruit on the ground.
  • If you have a pet that stays outside, use an electric fence.
  • If you see a bear in the neighborhood, notify your neighbors.
  • On the farm, place tarps under loaders when transferring grain.
  • Dispose of livestock carcasses and afterbirth through sanitation services, burning or dumping away from buildings and livestock.
  • If a bear keeps showing up in your area, notify Montana FWP.
  • Out on trail, hike with a friend, make noise and carry Bear Spray!

By the way, bear spray works, but know how to use it. And if you need more information, check the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website.

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