Officials said the closest grizzly bears had come to the Central Montana island mountain range prior to last week was in 2017. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)BILLINGS, Mont. — Wildlife officials in Montana have confirmed the presence of a grizzly bear in the Big Snowy Mountains, a first for the region. The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said the adult…
The large male bear was later shot and killed when it charged wildlife workers investigating the attack.
The bears now occupy about 6% of their historical range in the contiguous U.S., up from 2% in 1975.
Official says there is no straightforward explanation for the increase and it could be chance, but it has not helped that there are more people recreating in the Yellowstone region as the coronavirus pandemic has given them a reason to spend more time outdoors.
Grizzly bears on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountain Front have expanded in numbers and dispersed into areas where they have not existed for decades.
This year, there were no chaperones, and people were mostly left to police themselves. Sometimes that went smoothly, but other times it’s proved to be an ugly affair – and the stakes are high when large carnivores, naive tourists and high-speed traffic are all part of the equation.
And a boater suffered non-life-threatening injuries after he also surprised a grizzly with a cub.
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.
But his actions bring charges.
The move comes after trains have killed eight grizzlies in northwestern Montana so far in 2019. That’s the most ever recorded in a single year.
All hunters involved were able to drive away after the attacks.
USFWS says the bear crossed into Idaho last August, but wildlife officials captured it and sent it back to Montana.
Run-ins with bears are happening in agricultural areas where the fearsome animals hadn’t been seen for decades, raising tensions in communities over the grizzly’s status as a federally protected species in the U.S. outside Alaska. They now occupy almost 27,000 square miles, a range that has grown 34 percent in the past decade.
Montana officials have adopted a plan to maintain the largest grizzly population in the Lower 48 states at roughly current numbers if the animal is removed from the threatend species list.
Man who was elk hunting told authorities he shot the bear after it approached his hunting camp three different times. However, investigators found only one set of bear tracks outside the camp and determined that it wasn’t a case of self-defense.
Park biologist spotted grizzly bears feeding on carcasses of three elk, at least one that was killed by a hunter.
Mostly lower-than-average hunter numbers and harvest success in second weekend, with grizzly sighting and reminder for hunters to be bear aware.
As bears become more common in prairie creek bottoms and brush rows, encounters with bird hunters become more frequent as well.
States need to be allowed to manage burgeoning bear populations.
JACKSON, Wyo. — Wyoming officials have trapped and killed two grizzly bears they believe killed a hunting outfitter and injured his client. Wyoming Game and Fish Department regional supervisor Brad Hovinga said Sunday the grizzlies that were killed matched the description of those that killed 37-year-old outfitter Mark Uptain. Uptain’s body was found Saturday in the Teton Wilderness east of…
“We will now await further information about whether the bears will remain under state management or if they go back to federal management.”
Public hunting of the animals could occur at some point in the future if federal officials move forward with plans to remove the population’s threatened species protections. No hunting plans have been crafted, but officials said if a hunt were to occur it would be constrained by the population objectives that were endorsed Thursday.
Even after having just finished hibernating, the bear was well over 600 pounds. A grizzly will typically lose more than 25 percent of its weight during hibernation, meaning it would have gained at least another 150 pounds by fall.
It’s the 20th bear to join the region near the Montana-Idaho border under an augmentation program that began in 1990.
As bears continue to move further into the prairie and remake their home in their historical territory, it’s up to both the agencies and the residents to prevent conflicts.
Idaho residents have until July 15 to apply. The drawing for the hunting tag is planned for early August.