Kalispell, MT — Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks captured a male grizzly bear south of Eureka near Trego and euthanized the animal because it was food conditioned and very habituated to people.
FWP personnel captured the bear on July 4 and euthanized it July 5. The bear was estimated to be 4 years old and weighed 273 pounds.
The grizzly bear was approaching residences and walking through properties without any hesitation around people. Attempts to haze the animal with cracker shells were unsuccessful. The bear tried multiple times to enter a shed that contained bio-fuel and broke a window on one occasion. It also destroyed an unsecured container of the attractant in another instance.
The bear did not have any prior conflicts. It was originally caught June 18 on a ranch near Fortine as part of FWP’s trend monitoring project.
The bear was euthanized at a local veterinary clinic and underwent an X-ray exam. The X-rays revealed it had been shot with bird shot in the rear and side. More than 50 pellets were discovered inside the bear. Under federal law, it’s illegal to shoot grizzly bears, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in northwest Montana. An animal shot with bird shot can be seriously injured and is at a heighted risk of infection and blindness.
Due to the bear’s habituation, FWP made the decision to euthanize it in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and in accordance with Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee guidelines.
This incident demonstrates that wild animals may become habituated to people, posing a serious risk to public safety. When responding to a conflict involving bears, FWP follows guidelines that inform an appropriate action. These factors include the potential human safety threats, the intensity of the conflict and the bear’s behavior. Putting down an adult bear is always a last resort.
Northwest Montana is home to abundant populations of grizzly bears and black bears. Residents are asked to remove or secure food attractants such as garbage and bird feeders and bird seed. Chickens and livestock should be properly secured with electric fencing or inside a closed shed with a door. Recreationists are urged to “Be Bear Aware” and follow precautionary steps and tips to prevent conflicts.
If you have questions or concerns about potential conflicts with wildlife, please contact FWP’s regional headquarters in Kalispell at (406) 752-5501.