Tag Archives: bear attractants

Lots of bear activity down-valley right now

Patti Bear

A lot of bears are foraging at lower elevations right now, getting ready for winter . . .

Grizzly and black bears are roaming the Flathead Valley in greater abundance as they prepare to den up for the winter, scouring the valley floor for lower-elevation food sources after exhausting this year’s scant supply of berries.

The bears’ seasonal sate is known as “hyperphagia,” but this year’s drought has led to a dearth of natural foods. Meanwhile, as the ever-expanding human-wildlife interface continues to overlap, the bears are increasingly running into conflict with people, exasperating wildlife officials who urge residents in bear country to reduce conflicts by taking simple steps, like picking their fruit trees, locking up trash and storing pet and livestock feed indoors.

“This has been an extremely busy year,” Erik Wenum, bear and lion specialist with the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said. “We are receiving an average of 35 to 45 calls per day. They’re everywhere – downtown Whitefish, Kalispell, Columbia Falls. All the bears are at low elevations now and they’re looking far and wide for trash, birdseed and of course the ever-present fruit trees.”

Read more . . .

Montana FWP: Update on efforts to trap black bear Involved in attack on a woman west of Kalispell

Black Bear

This tragedy is proving to be a real object lesson on why people should not feed bears.

From the official press release . . .

According to FWP Investigator Brian Sommers, the investigation into the black bear attack on the elderly woman in her residence between Batavia and Ashley Lake is continuing. The investigation to date shows that the woman was attacked inside her residence, that she was actively feeding bears, and that numerous bears have been frequenting the property.

FWP set traps to capture the bear involved in the attack and to address the hazard of food-conditioned bears roaming in a residential area. Over the past two days, two food-conditioned black bears were captured and euthanized at the residence. The two bears were anesthetized and then euthanized. Necropsy performed on the bears revealed extensive artificial feeding of sunflower seeds and millet. One young female black bear weighed 99 pounds, and an adult female weighed 162 pounds. Investigators believe that neither of these bears were the one involved in the attack.

According to Bear and Lion Specialist Erik Wenum, who performed necropsies on the bears, the evidence is clear that someone in the area is still feeding bears. “Someone is hampering our investigation by continuing to extensively feed bears, making our efforts to attract and trap the offending bear that much more difficult.” He noted that large amounts of millet and sunflower seeds were found in the digestive tracts of both bears.

Sommers note that people feeding bears can be cited for obstruction of an investigation. He pointed out Montana Law prohibits feeding of bears. Sommers further states that bears that are fed become habituated and food conditioned which can lead to aggressive behavior and the inability or desire to fend for themselves once the supplemental feed is removed. This in turn can lead to bears breaking into buildings, trailers and vehicles in search of food producing a large public safety issue. The act of breaking into structures or vehicles and endangering humans, pet, or livestock is grounds for removing the bears from the system.

Continue reading Montana FWP: Update on efforts to trap black bear Involved in attack on a woman west of Kalispell

Montana FWP: Grizzly bear management update for Northwest Montana

Cinca, May 5, 2015 by W K Walker

Here’s a news release by Tim Manley of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Region 1, summarizing recent grizzly bear activity. There’s some good stuff here . . .

Grizzly Bear Management Specialist Tim Manley has prepared the following summary in response to questions on grizzly bear activities in FWP Region 1:

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks grizzly bear management biologists and wardens have seen an increase in grizzly bear activity and conflicts during the month of September. Both black and grizzly bears are looking for food that will provide them with the layer of fat they need in order to survive the winter in their dens. Female grizzly bears with young are especially in need of additional food because they have been nursing their cubs and need the extra calories.

The following is an overview of the grizzly bear management activities that MT FWP has been involved with in the Tobacco, Flathead, and Swan Valley areas during the month of September.

Near Eureka, at least one young grizzly bear has been observed feeding on apples and walking through yards. Traps were set for that bear, but it hasn’t been captured yet.

West of Fortine, landowners buried a dead horse and noticed something had dug it up. They put up a trail camera and 3 different grizzly bears were photographed. One of the grizzly bears was wearing a radio collar that isn’t functioning properly. In an attempt to capture that bear and change the collar, two culvert traps were set. The horse was reburied and an electric fence was installed around the site along with remote cameras. On September 6th, an unmarked, young adult male grizzly bear visited the site and was captured. This male was radio-collared and translocated into the Whitefish Range. The radio-collared grizzly we were attempting to capture did not return to the trap site and the traps were pulled.

During that same week, a grizzly bear was breaking branches on fruit trees west of Lake Blaine. A temporary electric fence was installed and a culvert trap was set. The male grizzly bear returned, but was not captured. The electric fence was effective in preventing any additional damage to the trees and the trap was removed.

Right after Labor Day, an adult male grizzly bear was captured near Coram after killing chickens and eating apples. The 473 pound, 12 to 14 year old adult male grizzly had never been captured before. He was radio-collared and translocated to the Puzzle Creek drainage south of Marias Pass. The electric fence on that chicken coop has been upgraded to be more effective in deterring bears.

On the 9th of September, a large male grizzly broke into a chicken coop near Ferndale. Electric fencing was put up to protect the remaining chickens. A culvert trap was set. The male grizzly returned, it did not kill any more chickens, but it didn’t enter the culvert trap. Two days later, an unmarked, adult female grizzly with a cub of the year was captured. The cub was captured the next night and both bears were translocated to the Sullivan Creek drainage.

The trap was reset for the adult male, and the next night, a radio-collared female grizzly that has two cubs of the year was captured at the site. An attempt was made to capture both of the cubs, but was unsuccessful. To avoid separating the female and cubs, with the permission of the residents, the adult female was released onsite during the night of September 17th.

On September 16th, a photo was taken by a landowner of a female grizzly bear with 3 cubs of the year south of Ferndale. On the 17th, FWP bear managers contacted residents south of Ferndale about the family group. They have not caused any conflicts, but residents with fruit trees and poultry were advised to pick their fruit and make sure the electric fencing around their poultry was functioning properly.

In the North Fork of the Flathead, north of Polebridge, a female grizzly bear with a yearling killed some chickens and has gotten access to chicken feed and grain. Bear managers are working with local residents to secure attractants have installed electric fencing.

In the Swan Valley, a subadult female grizzly bear was hit and killed by a vehicle along the Swan Highway on September 12th, near the Condon Work Center. There had been reports of a grizzly bear feeding on road-killed deer just south of that area in previous weeks.

From mid-September until the grizzly bears den during November is typically a busy time for bear conflict specialists. Most of the berries have fallen off and the bears switch to other foods which sometimes brings them into areas with an abundance of fruit trees and other attractants.

While it seems like a lot of bears are causing conflicts, out of the estimated population of 1000 grizzly bears in northwest Montana, it is only 20 to 30 grizzly bears that are involved with conflicts throughout the whole area.

The best way to avoid conflicts with bears is through prevention. Take down your birdfeeders until bears have denned, don’t leave garbage, pet food, or grain outside. Use electric fencing to protect your poultry, beehives, and fruit trees. Pick your fruit as soon as it is ripe. Contact Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks if you have a bear conflict or need information or assistance on securing attractants. You can get more information at http://fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/livingWithWildlife/beBearAware/.

Grizzly activity spikes in Northwest Montana

It’s that time of year again when bears are packing in the calories in preparation of hibernation . . .

Wildlife managers are reporting an increase in grizzly bear activity and conflicts across Northwest Montana as the winter denning season approaches.

Between 20 and 30 grizzlies were involved in conflicts throughout the region in recent weeks, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Northwest Montana has the largest population of grizzlies in the continental U.S. with over 1,000.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesperson John Fraley said activity tends to pick up in autumn as both black and grizzly bears search for larger amounts of food in order to survive the winter in their dens. Female grizzly bears with young are especially in need of additional food as they nurse their cubs and need the extra calories.

Read more . . .

Also read: Food-Conditioned Black Bear Removed From the Population To Ensure Public Safety (Glacier National Park)

FWP bear managers ask residents to secure attractants

From a recent Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks press release . . .

FWP bear managers are asking residents in northwest Montana to secure garbage, pet food and other attractants in light of recent conflicts in the Whitefish area. Bear and Lion Specialist Erik Wenum notes that several black bears have been accessing unsecured garbage particularly in the Lion Mountain and Whitefish State Park Road areas.

“If residents secure garbage it would take care of most of our problems there,” says Wenum. He advises the following:

  • Secure garbage inside a garage or secure shed
  • Bring pet food in at night
  • Clean up livestock food
  • Bring in bird feeders, clean up spilled seed

When bears access garbage they can become food conditioned and can potentially be dangerous. Wildlife biologists usually have to kill food conditioned bears in the interest of public safety.

For information or to report a problem, call:
Erik Wenum, FWP Bear and Lion Specialist; 756-1776.

See also:

Black bears ‘pour down’ on western Montana valleys for apples, berries (Missoulian)

Hungry bears create problems across Flathead (Daily Inter Lake)

Chickens and boneyards attract grizzlies

A good report on discussions of bear attractants at the recent Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem grizzly bear management meeting . . .

Chickens continue to be a problem for bear managers in the Flathead Valley, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks bear specialist Tim Manley told Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem bear managers last week.

Manley said of the 10 bear complaints he’s responded to so far this spring, nearly all of them involved bears getting into chickens, ducks or both. The most effective way to keep bears out of coops and feed is electric fencing or electric wiring over gates and doors.

He showed a comical video of a grizzly bear attempting to get through the door of a coop with an electric screen over it. The bear was shocked, ran away and never came back. He also showed a video of just how well bears catch chickens — pouncing on chickens like they were salmon and swallowing them just as fast.

Read more . . .

Bears emerging across Northwest Montana

The bears are definitely on the move. We spotted a black bear right on the south edge of Coram yesterday, quite close to a number of buildings . . .

With the arrival of spring, bears are emerging from their mountain dens and descending into the lower valleys in search of food.

Earlier this week, tribal biologists located a radio-collared female grizzly bear at the base of the Mission Mountains on the Flathead Reservation.

Stacy Courville, wildlife program bear biologist with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, reminds the public that springtime is accompanied by an increase in bear activity. After stirring awake, bears begin seeking food sources, and they are often drawn to items such as garbage, pet food, bird feeders and chicken coops. Food-depleted bears can react aggressively if they’re surprised while feeding.

Read more . . .

Chickens ‘like crack’ to bears

Here’s another article discussing the growing problem of bears being attracted to chickens and chicken feed . . .

For years now, bear managers have been preaching the same sermon — residents in bear country need to secure their garbage, take in their bird feeders each spring, clean up fruit trees in the fall and feed their pets indoors.

But now there’s a growing new problem — chickens.

“Chickens are the new garbage,” Chris Servheen, grizzly bear recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said last week during a meeting of bear managers from across the state.

More and more people are now raising chickens as the move to small agricultural operations in both rural areas and in towns continues to grow.

Read more . . .

For bears, ‘chickens are the new garbage’

Bears like chickens, which is causing headaches for bear management personnel . . .

Wildlife and land managers say they are seeing gradual acceptance and improvements in public education and outreach for grizzly bear conservation, but there also are setbacks in some areas, most notably the proliferation of bear-attracting chicken coops across Western Montana.

“The hobby chicken farmer is one of the greatest threats to the grizzly bear these days,” Chris Servheen, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grizzly bear recovery coordinator, said Wednesday in Hungry Horse.

Servheen was one of the speakers during a meeting of the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem subcommittee, a multi-agency panel that guides bear conservation and management.

As state grizzly bear management specialist Jamie Jonkel puts it, “chickens are the new garbage.”

Read more . . .

It must be spring: several bears relocated

Another sure sign of spring in this corner of Montana: Wildlife personnel are busy relocating nuisance bears . . .

As bear activity picks up, wildlife personnel recently had to relocate a grizzly bear from south of Eureka into Glacier National Park.

According to Erik Wenum, a bear and lion specialist with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, a 6-year-old 340-pound male grizzly bear was captured on April 6 south of Eureka after killing a calf earlier in the week. USDA Wildlife Services personnel assisted in capturing the grizzly…

Wenum says four black bears were captured in the last week in the Columbia Falls and Whitefish areas. This level of activity indicates that while many bears may still be denned or close to their dens some have dropped to lower elevations in search of foods, according to FWP.

Read more . . .