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Montana news about the environment, natural resources, wildlife, climate change and more.

Wildlife officials relocate two grizzlies from the Bitterroot Valley

An adult male grizzly bear eats from a chokecherry tree off Conrad Drive east of Kalispell, August 2019.
Courtesy Karen Sauer via Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
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An adult male grizzly bear eats from a chokecherry tree off Conrad Drive east of Kalispell, August 2019.

State wildlife officials say two grizzly bears were trapped and removed from the Bitterroot Valley this week. The two sub-adult grizzlies were captured between Florence and Lolo, radio collared and relocated to the neighboring Sapphire Mountains.

The pair had spent time in the area since early August when they first moved south from the Blackfoot Valley.

Although the 2-year-olds had not yet been in conflict with attractants or people, Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials say they were increasingly spending time near garbage, fruit trees and livestock food.

FWP say the berry crops bears rely on to fatten up before winter have largely failed this year, leaving the animals to seek out substitute food sources. They’re getting into trouble in the process.

Grizzlies don’t inhabit the Bitterroot Valley in numbers like they do in other parts of western Montana . However they’re dispersing into more places as they travel between areas with established populations.

FWP says activity in the Bitterroot Valley has steadily increased over the past 10 years.

O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the University of Montana School of Journalism. His first career job out of school was covering the 1995 Montana Legislature. When the session wrapped up, O’Brien was fortunate enough to land a full-time position at the station as a general assignment reporter. Feel free to drop him a line at edward.obrien@umt.edu.