A male grizzly bear cub was killed by a train near Columbia Falls last week, adding to the abnormally high number of bear mortalities in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem this year.
In the last month two adult female grizzlies were also found dead, due to natural causes, near Hungry Horse. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks reports 48 bear mortalities this year.
FWP labels any bear removed from an ecosystem as a mortality, so not all have died. Some are moved to another region or accredited zoo.
Spokesperson Dillon Tabish says the annual average is 25 mortalities, although the increase isn’t surprising.
"The sheer number of bears is higher than before, it continues to grow, and with more bears, unfortunately sometimes can just mean more accidents like these ones."
Tabish says more bears have been hit and killed by vehicles this year than in the past, especially along highway 93 through Flathead Valley.
Tabish says bears killed on roads or railways are often drawn to them by dead animals, food, or spilled grain from trains.