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FWP advises caution after grizzly bear is captured on golf course

Posted at 12:08 PM, Oct 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-30 14:08:05-04

STEVENSVILLE – Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said the trapping of a young grizzly in the Bitterroot may be “uncommon” but it serves as a good reminder to carry bear spray no matter where you are in the Montana outdoors.

The “sub-adult” male grizzly — kind of like a teenager — was caught over the weekend after Whitetail Golf Course operators of the Whitetail Golf Course requested a trap after finding evidence of a bear causing damage last week.

FWP expected to catch a black bear with the trip, given that grizzlies are “uncommon” in the Bitterroot, but when the trap was sprung over the weekend, they got a surprise.

(Photo courtesy of Jason Lehtola)
(Photo courtesy of Jason Lehtola)

“He got relocated. Yeah, he’s in the time of his life where young males bears will disperse kind of, get out and explore,” FWP spokeswoman Vivaca Crowser said. “So that’s what he was doing. And he hadn’t gotten into any trouble before so he was just relocated.”

The trapping has gotten a lot of reaction on social media the past couple of days, especially since the golf course is in the center of the valley, just north of Stevensville at the Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge.

Whitetail Golf Course
The trapping has gotten a lot of reaction on social media the past couple of days. (MTN News photo)

FWP said it’s not unheard of for young bears to wander in search of food this time of the year, and there’s plenty of that to be had.

Even old bears, like the famous “Ethyl”, who wandered for thousands of miles including down the middle of Highway 93 in Lolo at night, can include the Bitterroot on their itinerary.

“Bears wander and we’ve got an established population of grizzlies bears from Missoula north to Glacier National Park. So to have one travel through the Bitterroot is not to be unexpected,” Crowser said. “It’s just not something we see commonly. We have had confirmed grizzly bears in the Bitterroot before. We’ve had them come over from Rock Creek over the Sapphire Range.”

“We had one a few years back in the Lolo Creek drainage and then of course south from the Big Hole Valley from time-to-time,” Crowser concluded.

While a grizzly sighting is uncommon in the Bitterroot, FWP said it still shows we should always take precautions for safety.

“We’ve got black bears as you know all around us. So having bear spray with us knowing that there’s black bears out is really good advice,” Crowser said. “Just being prepared for anything really, especially since we know we’ve got black bears, we’ve got mountain lions, all of that all around us.”

FWP wants to remind people to be especially careful with bear attractants this time of the year, cleaning up fallen fruit, and keeping garbage and chicken feed secure.

Click here to learn how to “Be Bear Aware.”

-Reported by Dennis Bragg/MTN News