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Bear Problems Abound In Western Montana This Fall

State and federal wildlife officials are investigating the shooting death of a male grizzly bear west of Whitefish.
Wildlife officials say bears are becoming more active as they search for food before hibernation.

A grizzly bear in Stillwater County had to be shot after it killed a herd of cows. Wildlife officials say bears are becoming more active as they search for food before hibernation. The bear was responsible for a dozen cattle deaths in the Fishtail and Fiddler Creek area since mid August. It was killed by U.S. Wildlife Services officials late last week.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Bob Gibson says bears in the Beartooth Mountains have had to look for alternate food sources this year because a variety of environmental conditions took out the food at higher elevations.

“So, we’re seeing a lot of bears this year. And people think that there are more bears. But there really aren’t. They are just all down where the people are.”

This was just the latest incident involving the active bears in recent weeks.

Over the last weekend a hiker and a bowhunter were attacked by grizzlies in separate incidents, one near Olney and one northwest of Choteau. The bear in the Olney incident was killed.

At the end of September, a woman who officials say was feeding bears was killed by a black bear in near Kalispell.

As bears continue to pack on the fat for hibernation across Montana, state wildlife officials recommend keeping garbage cans sealed or out of a bear’s reach, picking up fallen apples from yards and carrying bear spray while hiking.

Montana FWP has tips about what to do in case of a bear attack.

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
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