During this week, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks responded to calls from the Coram area that involved a grizzly bear breaking out the back window of a truck to get horse feed on Kuzmic Lane, getting into a refrigerator on a porch, and trying to get into a slide-in camper off of Seville Lane. According to FWP Grizzly Bear Management Specialist Tim Manley, a culvert trap and remote cameras were set Wednesday night next to the camper. While setting the trap, the radio signal from the collar of an adult male grizzly bear was detected. The grizzly bear was captured less than an hour after the trap was set. FWP personnel also heard second hand reports of a large grizzly bear getting food rewards at other residences in the Coram area, but were never contacted by the landowners.
On Thursday the decision was made to remove the grizzly bear from the population due to his behavior of repeatedly breaking into vehicles and structures to get food. The 12-15 year old bear was drugged by FWP personnel and euthanized by a local veterinarian. He was in good physical condition and weighed 575 pounds. The hide and skull will be kept for educational purposes.
The grizzly had been previously captured on September 8, 2015, at another residence on Seville Lane after he had broken into a chicken coop and killed chickens. There were also apples in his scat indicating he had been in other yards feeding on apples. It was the first time the bear had been captured, and the bear was radio-collared and released in the Puzzle Creek drainage south of Marias Pass, about 40 straight line-miles from Coram. In September, the grizzly bear weighed 482 pounds.
“The worst part of my job is having to remove a grizzly bear from the population because it has become food-conditioned and starts causing property damage,” said Manley. “The key to reducing human/bear conflicts is prevention. A grizzly bear doesn’t just start breaking into structures overnight to get food.”
Manley added that when people put out bird seed, corn for turkeys, deer blocks, or leave garbage or pet food outside where bears can get to it, that teaches bears to come around houses to look for food. When they find that food, they are rewarded, and it reinforces that behavior of going to houses to look for more food. Once they get those easy food rewards, some bears may start testing outbuildings, barns, vehicles, and chicken coops to get at food that has been stored inside. Bears that are extremely food-conditioned may even start breaking into unoccupied cabins and houses to get food.
“Fortunately, I haven’t had to deal with any grizzly bears that have broken into occupied homes,” Manley said. “I attribute that to the fact that most grizzly bears try to avoid houses that are occupied by people, but also because we try to remove grizzly bears from the population when they start causing property damage. About 90% of the grizzly bear conflicts that I deal with occur on private property. If a grizzly bear shows up at your house or camp, it is because it has either gotten food at your place or at another residence. If it repeatedly shows up at your house or camp, that is because it is getting food at your place even though you might not be aware of it. Again, most human/bear conflicts can be prevented if people wouldn’t put or leave out food that attracts bears.”