Kalispell, MT — Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks captured three grizzly bears south of Ferndale along the northwestern edge of Swan Lake and moved the bears to the North Fork of the Flathead drainage.
FWP received reports in mid-April of the bears eating grass in residential yards along the west shore of Swan Lake before moving to areas north of Woods Bay. On May 1, FWP received a report of the bears knocking over a barbecue grill along Flathead Lake and getting into unsecured garbage in Woods Bay. FWP set culvert traps in a secure location on private property in an attempt to capture the bears. On May 3, the bears had moved back east and were reported getting into hummingbird feeders and garbage at residences along Crane Mountain Road. The bears then moved south to Cedar Bay and West Swan Shore Lane where they were reported to be feeding in residential yards and getting into bird feeders and dog food. FWP set traps on private property near Cedar Bay on May 4 and all three bears were captured May 7. The bears are each estimated to be 3 years old.
After consulting with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service, FWP decided to release the bears in remote sections of the North Fork. On May 8, the two female bears were released together in the Whale Creek drainage. The male bear was released near the British Columbia border. All three bears were fitted with GPS radio collars to monitor their movements.
Western Montana is home to black bears and grizzly bears that are active from springtime through late fall.
To avoid conflicts with bears and other wildlife, residents should remove or secure food attractants such as garbage, bird feeders and bird seed. Homeowners should stay at least 100 yards away from wildlife and try to haze animals off their property with loud noises. Chickens and other livestock should be properly secured with electric fencing or inside a closed shed with a door. Domestic fruit should be picked up as soon as possible. Recreationists are urged to “Be Bear Aware” and follow precautionary steps to prevent conflicts, including carrying bear spray and knowing how to use it, and traveling in groups while making noise.
Residents are encouraged to report bear activity as soon as possible. To report grizzly bear activity in the greater Flathead Valley, call FWP bear management specialists at (406) 250-1265. To report black bear and mountain lion activity in the greater Flathead Valley, call (406) 250-0062). To report bear activity in the Cabinet-Yaak area, call (406) 291-1320.