OVANDO – Wildlife officials euthanized two grizzly bears this week that were responsible for at least 10 conflicts in the upper Blackfoot Valley over the past two months.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks wildlife specialists reported that the conflicts began in mid-July in the Ovando and Woodworth areas where the bears broke into three grain sheds. FWP worked with the property owners to install an electric fence at all sites to prevent more issues.
The bears moved on from that immediate area but stayed close to places where people live and recreate. Late last week, the pair broke into another grain shed, garage and barn in the Monture Creek area north of Ovando and then spent time around Monture Creek Campground and Monture Guard Station, in close proximity to people.
The bears were exhibiting bold behavior that indicates they were conditioned to unnatural food sources. This is a habit that is very hard to break and causes human safety concerns, as bears actively pursue food and other attractants in and around homes, ranches and other occupied areas. Unfortunately, when bears become so food conditioned, the only way to prevent further conflict or peril is through euthanization.
In consultation with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), FWP crews set traps in the area, just north of Ovando. They trapped the bears late this week, and both bears were euthanized. Grizzly bears are protected under the Endangered Species Act, and the USFWS has final authority regarding management actions.
FWP and USFWS specialists work to help landowners and communities avoid bear conflicts. Montana is bear country with populations of grizzly and black bears that frequent higher and lower elevations, especially river corridors.
If you see a bear or sign near your residence that may result in a conflict, call your local bear specialist at the contact number found on FWP’s website: fwp.mt.gov/conservation/wildlife-management/bear/contact.
For more information on living, working, and recreating in Montana’s bear country, visit the FWP Bear Aware webpage at fwp.mt.gov/conservation/wildlife-management/bear/be-bear-aware.