Grizzly bears euthanized in Northwest Montana following conflicts with people

Two grizzly bears were captured and euthanized following several conflicts with people in the Fortine and North Fork areas.
Posted at 4:38 PM, Sep 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-25 11:41:11-04

KALISPELL — State wildlife officials report two grizzly bears were recently captured and euthanized following several conflicts with people in the Fortine and North Fork areas in northwest Montana.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) received numerous reports of an adult female grizzly bear and male cub getting into unsecured garbage in the Fortine area in Lincoln County in early August, according to a news release.

FWP bear specialists captured the bears and moved them to forestland near Frozen Lake and Tuchuck Mountain. The bears traveled to the North Fork of the Flathead and began seeking food sources by breaking into cabins, garages, outdoor freezers, and a trailer.

FWP staff responded and captured the adult female, estimated to be six years old, and the cub. Based on reports and video footage, the bears were severely food-conditioned and habituated to people.

FWP notes the decision was made to euthanize both animals on Sept. 20, 2023m in consultation with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and by Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee guidelines.

People are asked to immediately report bear conflicts to FWP or their tribal wildlife management agency. According to FWP, addressing conflicts promptly can help prevent bears from becoming severely food-conditioned or habituated.

In northwest Montana, contact:

  • North portion of Flathead County and Eureka area - Justine Vallieres, 406-250-1265
  • South portion of Flathead County - Erik Wenum, 406-250-0062
  • Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem and Sanders County – Jennifer Wissmann, 406-291-1320
  • Flathead Indian Reservation - Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Wildlife Management Program, 406-275-2774
  • For livestock conflicts, contact USDA Wildlife Services at 1-866-4USDAWS

FWP officials note Montana is bear country with populations of grizzly and black bears and that bears are increasingly active and seeking food in the fall months before denning season. Bears typically enter their dens for the winter beginning in late November.
Tips in bear country

  • Carry bear spray close at hand and know how to use it.
  • Properly secure or remove food attractants, including fruit, livestock, livestock feed, garbage, and bird feeders.
  • Travel in groups whenever possible and plan to be back to your vehicle in the daylight hours.
  • Avoid carcass sites and concentrations of ravens and other scavengers.
  • Watch for signs of bears such as bear scat, diggings, torn-up logs and turned over rocks, and partly consumed animal carcasses.
  • Make noise, especially near streams or in thick forest where hearing and visibility is limited. This can be the key to avoiding encounters. Most bears will avoid humans when they know humans are present.
  • Never approach a bear.
  • A properly constructed electrified fence is both safe for people, livestock and pets, and has proven effective at deterring bears from human-related resources such as beehives, garbage or small livestock. For assistance or more information, contact your local FWP bear management specialist.

Learn more about bears at