OVANDO – State wildlife officials recently euthanized two grizzly bears that were responsible for at least 10 conflicts in the upper Blackfoot Valley over the past two months.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) wildlife specialists reported that the conflicts began in mid-July in the Ovando and Woodworth areas where the bears broke into three grain sheds. FWP worked with the property owners to install an electric fence at all sites to prevent more issues, according to a news release.
The bears moved on from that immediate area but stayed close to places where people live and recreate and broke into another grain shed, garage and barn in the Monture Creek area north of Ovando. FWP reports the bears and then spent time around Monture Creek Campground and Monture Guard Station.
"The bears were exhibiting bold behavior that indicates they were conditioned to unnatural food sources. This is a habit that is very hard to break and causes human safety concerns, as bears actively pursue food and other attractants in and around homes, ranches and other occupied areas. Unfortunately, when bears become so food conditioned, the only way to prevent further conflict or peril is through euthanization," the release states.
FWP crews set traps just north of Ovando after consulting with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), trapped the bears late this week, and then both bears were euthanized. Grizzly bears are protected under the Endangered Species Act, and the USFWS has final authority regarding management actions.
People who see a bear or sign near their residences that may result in a conflict are asked to contact their local bear specialist. That information can be found at fwp.mt.gov/conservation/wildlife-management/bear/contact.
Visit fwp.mt.gov/conservation/wildlife-management/bear/be-bear-aware for more information on living, working, and recreating in bear country.