Bozeman, MT — Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks captured a grizzly bear after it got into unsecured attractants at a house and campgrounds near West Yellowstone last week.
The bear reportedly gained access to an unsecured garbage can at a house on Wednesday. Then it made repeated visits to the Rainbow Point Campground, where it got into a cooler, as well as food and garbage from the back of a pickup truck. The bear also toppled a tent and climbed on an occupied vehicle at the campground.
Multiple attempts were made to haze the bear away from the area, but they were unsuccessful. The U.S. Forest Service closed the campground on Friday, and FWP successfully trapped the bear later that evening.
Unsecured attractants, such as food and garbage, can lead to property damage and human safety risks. Relocating and releasing bears that have associated human activity with access to food usually leads to further conflicts as bears often return to the same area where they were captured to look for food. Bears in these situations can’t be rehabilitated, so they often must be euthanized.
However, the 5- to 6-year-old male grizzly bear captured at Rainbow Point last week has been transferred permanently to the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone. This bear will provide educational opportunities and help the center test new bear-resistant products being developed. This is a rare option because space and opportunities for bears are limited at such facilities.
Residents and recreationists in southwest Montana can help keep bears in the wild by following Forest Service food storage orders, which are in effect every year from March 1 to Dec. 1. These orders require all unattended food, garbage and attractants to be stored in at least one of the following ways:
In hard-sided vehicles
In certified bear-resistant containers
Hung at least 10 feet above the ground and 4 feet away from a tree or pole, out of the reach of wildlife
Placed within a fenced area that meets the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee regulations for approved bear-resistant products
People who do not comply with these orders can be issued a violation and held civilly liable for any damages that occur from non-compliance. Deliberately feeding wildlife is also illegal in Montana.
Grizzly bears in the lower 48 states are currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Management authority for grizzlies rests with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, working closely in Montana with FWP, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, the Forest Service and Tribal lands. This collaboration happens through the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.