Bears across Montana are waking up, and state wildlife officials say it’s time to make sure anything that could tempt them towards homes is safely stored.
Dillon Tabish, spokesperson for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, says a few radio-collared grizzlies have already shown some movement out of their winter dens. And those bears are hungry.
"Just about anything that has a scent will attract a bear. They really live by their noses. And so this time of year that can smell food from over a mile away."
That means trash, pet food, bird feeders, grain -- anything that could be tasty to a bear needs to be put away -- far from the eyes, noses and claws of hungry bruins.
He says attractants like these are the number one cause of conflict with humans, and he adds electric fencing can also help keep grizzlies away from chickens and livestock.
Montana is home to four of the six federally designated ecosystems for grizzly bear recovery. The animals were listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act in 1975, and now over a thousand grizzlies live in the state.
That’s not to mention the estimated 10 to 15,000 black bears statewide. They’re also waking up from their winter slumbers, and eager to pack on the pounds.
FWP’s Dillon Tabish says it’s usually safe to assume bears are out and about by April 1. Grizzlies are mostly at higher elevations right now, but quickly moving lower, looking for food.