Spring is here, and that means bears in Montana are leaving their dens. Wildlife managers report bear sightings across northwest Montana.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks says staff are already responding to reports of black bears eating garbage and bird feeders in the Whitefish and Bigfork areas. Reports are also trickling in of bear track observations on the east side of the Flathead Valley, Swan Valley and north near Eureka.
FWP is urging people to be bear aware and secure all attractants, like garbage, bird feeders, chickens and livestock. FWP says unsecured food attractants are the most common cause of human-bear conflicts, which often end with the bear being killed.
Tips from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks:
- Now is a good time to haul garbage to landfills or green box sites and keep residential garbage bins inside until the morning of pickup service.
- Instead of bird feeders, residents should set up bird houses or bird baths, and plant flowers or set up hanging flower baskets for hummingbirds.
- Chickens and other livestock should be properly secured with electric fencing or inside a closed shed with a door.
- Homeowners should stay at least 100 yards away from wildlife and try to haze animals off their property with loud noises.
- Recreationists are urged to follow precautionary steps and tips to prevent conflicts, including carrying bear spray and knowing how to use it, and traveling in groups while making noise.
Residents are encouraged to report bear activity. To report grizzly bear activity in the greater Flathead Valley, call FWP bear management specialists at (406) 250-1265. To report black bear and mountain lion activity in the greater Flathead Valley, call (406) 250-0062). To report bear activity in the Cabinet-Yaak area, call (406) 291-1320.