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Black Bears Euthanized In Zortman, Residents And Recreationists Encouraged To Be Bear Aware

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks recently euthanized a female black bear and two cubs after they were found in a garbage dumpster in Zortman.

“It’s an unfortunate circumstance, but once bears learn to get food from unnatural sources, the safety risk for people escalates greatly,” said Drew Henry, FWP supervisor in Glasgow. “Even though bears aren’t as common out here in eastern Montana, they are around and can get into trouble if they find unsecured attractants.”

Many times, bears are attracted to dumpsters, campground areas, and homes due to the garbage and other available food. Simple precautions like securing any sort of attractants like garbage, pet food and bird feeders can help people avoid conflicts with bears, both grizzly and black bears.

Although bear encounters are rare in most of FWP Region 6, black bears are occasionally seen in the Little Rockies and the Bears Paw Mountains.

Be Bear Aware

Montana is bear country. In fall, bears are active for longer periods as they consume more food in preparation for hibernation. This period overlaps with hunting season and other fall recreation activities.

Avoiding conflicts with bears is easier than dealing with conflicts. Here are some precautions to help residents, recreationists and people who work outdoors avoid negative bear encounters:

•Carry bear spray and be prepared to use it immediately.

•Make noise to alert bears to your presence and travel in groups.

•Stay away from animal carcasses, which often attract bears.

•Follow food storage orders from the applicable land management agency.

•If you encounter a bear, never approach it. Leave the area when it is safe to do so.

•If you are attacked by a bear, use your bear spray. If the bear makes contact, go face down on the ground, with your hands covering your neck. Stay still until you’re certain the bear has left. If the bear is non-defensive or enters your tent or home, you should fight back.

•Keep garbage, bird feeders, pet food and other attractants put away in a secure building. Keep garbage in a secure building until the day it is collected. Certified bear-resistant garbage containers are available in many areas.

•Never feed wildlife. Bears that become food conditioned lose their natural foraging behavior and pose threats to human safety. It is illegal to feed bears in Montana.

People who hunt in places that have or may have grizzly bears should take special precautions: •Carry bear spray and be prepared to use it immediately.

•Look for bear sign and be cautious around creeks and areas with limited visibility.

•Hunt with a group of people. Making localized noise can alert bears to your presence.

•Be aware that elk calls and cover scents can attract bears.

•Bring the equipment and people needed to help field dress game and remove the meat from the kill site as soon as possible.

•If you need to leave part of the meat in the field during processing, hang it at least 10 feet off the ground and at least 150 yards from the gut pile. Leave it where it can be observed from a distance of at least 200 yards.

•Upon your return, observe the meat with binoculars. If it has been disturbed or if a bear is in the area, leave and call FWP.

Grizzly bears in the lower 48 states are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Management authority for grizzlies rests with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, working closely in Montana with FWP, the Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Geological Survey, Wildlife Services, and Native American tribes.

For more information and resources on bear safety, visit

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