Great Falls, MT — Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks euthanized a young male grizzly bear on July 19 along the Marias River near the inlet of Tiber Dam due to food conditioning and sheep depredations. The action followed protocol under the Endangered Species Act and under authority of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
FWP captured the 278-pound bear after it killed 29 ewe sheep and 11 lambs over the last two weeks. The livestock producer had conflict prevention methods in place, including four guard dogs and a range rider who was always present. During recent encounters, the range rider chased the bear away twice with his four-wheeler. Early attempts to trap the bear were unsuccessful, making it necessary to erect an electric fence around the sheep bedding ground. The bear returned despite the guard dogs and range rider. The bear was captured at the site of the depredations.
FWP installed an electric fence around the sheep bedding ground with materials provided by Vital Ground Foundation and Defenders of Wildlife, which proved critical in preventing further loss to the producer. The producer agreed to continue the practice of containing their sheep within the electric fence at night where depredation could occur.
The bear had become food conditioned, presenting a serious risk to public safety, the animal and other livestock. Due to the significant amount of livestock depredations and food conditioning, FWP decided to euthanize it in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and in accordance with Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee guidelines.
FWP and partners are willing to assist producers in developing electric fences to protect livestock. Sheep are particularly vulnerable and should always be kept in an electric fence at night. Other vulnerable livestock include chickens, goats, and young cattle – all of which should be kept in an electrified enclosure. Additionally, producers should try and limit grazing livestock near tree cover and rivers during the months when bears are active because these areas are heavily used by bears.