Montana Public Radio

Mike Madel

A subadult male grizzly bear was euthanized after it repeatedly broke into a chicken coop and killed several chickens off Farm to Market Road between Kalispell and Whitefish, August 21, 2019.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Bear managers around Glacier National Park say they’ve had a busy spring season with conflicts between bears and humans. Mortality numbers are on pace with last year, the second highest on record for the area.

A "mortality" counts any bear removed from the ecosystem for any reason.

Electric fencing can be an effective tool for protecting livestock such as chickens, goats and young cattle.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Grizzly bears are repopulating areas of Montana that haven’t seen them for decades, creating more conflict between livestock, people and bears. Some ranchers are learning they need to do something that doesn’t come naturally — change how they live on the land.

As bears were hibernating in their dens this winter, the Blackfeet Stockgrowers Association held a meeting in Choteau to provide a space for ranchers like Mark Hitchcock to talk about working alongside the growing number of grizzly bears on the Rocky Mountain Front.

Courtesy of Mike Madel

A Montana wildlife management specialist says one of the oldest male grizzly bears recorded along the Rocky Mountain Front was euthanized this week for killing livestock. 

Airedale Terrier puppy Hilda wanders across Gene Swanson's driveway. Swanson relies on Airedales to help prevent conflicts with grizzly bears at his ranch near Augusta, MT.
Rosie Costain / Montana Public Radio

Grizzly bear populations across the state are growing, as is talk about how to minimize human-bear conflict. A Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks report released in April showed wildlife officials in northwest Montana received about 150 calls related to grizzly conflicts last year.

Some people, like residents of the Rocky Mountain Front, have dealt with the bears for a long time. MTPR's Rosie Costain reports on one of these conflict-reducing methods: dogs.

Grizzly bear. File photo.
(PD)

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — State wildlife officials say grizzly bears have begun leaving their dens along the Rocky Mountain Front.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks bear management specialist Mike Madel said Tuesday that based on reported sightings and footprints, he estimates four or five bears are out. Madel says the bears are out a little later than last year.

A bear warning sign.
Josh Burnham / Montana Public Radio

Last Thursday the Interior Department announced that it’s removing Yellowstone-area grizzly bears from the endangered species list. It’s expected that grizzlies in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) will be de-listed in 2020.

For the first time in a lifetime, grizzly bears in the NCDE  have been roaming far east of the Rocky Mountains following drainages, streams and food into the tan waves of farmland stretching out from the forest edges of the Rocky Mountain Front.  

In the town of Valier, where about 500 people live along a lake an hour and a half drive from the mountains to the west, the community is still adjusting to living among grizzlies.

Grizzly Killed After Twice Killing Sheep On Montana Ranch

Jun 1, 2016
Grizzly bear.
Gregory Smith (CC-BY-SA-2)

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — Wildlife authorities shot and killed a female grizzly bear after she twice killed sheep on a ranch southeast of Valier.

Grizzly Bears Showing Up On Prairies North Of Great Falls

May 12, 2016
Grizzly bears showing up on prairies north of Great Falls.
Courtesy CSKT Natural Resources Department

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — State game wardens have been busy monitoring and hazing grizzly bears as they show up on the prairies east of the Rocky Mountain Front and north of Great Falls.

M. Madel

Springtime in Montana brings with it a few certainties: For one, it's gong to be muddy. It's also going to be warm and beautiful one day, then snowy and cold the next.   
     It also means bears are starting to wake up and will soon be lumbering out of their dens.