FWP removes bear from downtown Billings

BILLINGS – Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks killed a black bear in downtown Billings early Thursday after police pursued it for a mile through the south side of town.

Billings police first reported seeing the bear along South 27th Street near the Post Office. They pursued it through residential neighborhoods until it climbed into a tree near 2nd Avenue South and South 35th Street at about 5 a.m. FWP then determined it best to remove the bear before the situation escalated with daylight hours.

The bear likely is one of several black bears that have become habituated to garbage and other food sources and lost their wariness of people in neighborhoods along Blue Creek and south of Billings throughout the summer. Trapping, tranquilizing or moving the bear were not considered viable options under the circumstances. Experience and history have shown that troublesome bears transplanted elsewhere go right back to their home ranges and the same food sources that continue to be available to them.

At this time of year, bears eat anything they can to fatten up for winter hibernation. People should not be surprised to see bears anywhere in south central Montana.

To remain safe and prevent bears from getting in trouble, FWP is asking residents to remove any opportunity for bears to seek or find food in or around their homes, businesses and vehicles.

Residents should store all garbage, barbecue grills, pet food, horse pellets and livestock feed in a locked building. They should remove all bird feeders and clean up apples, berries and other potential food sources from their yard. Bear-proofing also includes thoroughly cleaning decks and patios around barbecue areas to remove odors from previous cooking.