Three grizzlies killed in Flathead, cubs moved | State and Region


Three grizzly bears were euthanized by Montana wildlife managers in early July after repeatedly ending up in trash around the Flathead area.

A pair of cubs with one of the bears are sent to a sanctuary in Pennsylvania.

The three grizzly bears were killed after they were captured by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks on July 10. An adult female with cubs was captured near Lupfer Meadows north of Whitefish. A pair of 2.5 to 3.5 year old male grizzly bears were captured in the Blankenship area, north of Columbia Falls. FWP announced the actions on Friday afternoon.

Dillon Tabish, a spokesperson for FWP Region 1, said Friday he knows of a total of seven grizzly bears, including these three, who have been euthanized in the region so far this year. All were conditioned for food, he said. He can’t gauge this season’s standings against others until the fall, he said, but he noted that bear handlers in western Montana have been particularly busy this year.

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The adult female had been captured and moved to Glacier National Park in 2020 after looting trash and chicken coops around Columbia Falls, the agency said. The bear continued to raid homes after relocating, including breaking into sheds and garages in search of food.

FWP consulted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and determined that it was necessary to euthanize the adult female due to severe foraging conditioning, which occurs when an animal loses its natural foraging behavior and continues to seek out unnatural food sources, creating a risk to public safety,” the agency said.

The two bear cubs were first transported to the FWP Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Helena and are expected to move permanently to Rivendale Wildlife Sanctuary outside PIttsburgh, Pennsylvania. The accredited facility just completed a new grizzly bear enclosure, Tabish said, and “the stars have aligned” that FWP was able to find the facility after a nationwide search and was able to take the cubs. Otherwise, he said, FWP would have killed the cubs.

The couple of bears captured north of Columbia Falls had followed a similar trajectory: they too had been captured before after conflicts but continued to loot chicken coops and garbage. After consultation, the two bears were euthanized on July 11.

A grizzly bear cub captured near Whitefish on July 10 by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks will be moved to a sanctuary in Pennsylvania with its sibling. The mother of the cubs was euthanized after repeatedly looting rubbish and chicken coops, even after they moved in 2020.

Photo by Corie Rice, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks

FWP encouraged people to secure or remove bear attractants around homes, and noted that “bear-resistant containers and properly constructed electrified fencing have proven effective in deterring bears”.

Previously on June 23, Grizzly Managers captured and euthanized a 3-year-old female grizzly near Silver Butte, south of Libby, after repeatedly attacking a chicken coop there. This bear was first captured after raiding co-ops near Whitefish in 2021 and was moved to Puzzle Creek near Marias Pass.

On May 27, bear handlers euthanized an aging grizzly bear captured the day before because it was used to humans along the North Fork of the Flathead River near Glacier National Park. The bear, about 22 years old, was in poor health.

Also in late May, bear managers in Missoula captured and euthanized a young female grizzly who lost one of his front legs in this FWP bear manager Jamie Jonkel called it a “high impact injury”.