After confirming four calves were killed by a grizzly bear along the Rocky Mountain Front near Augusta, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services shot the bear after obtaining the necessary approval from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS).
The bear was initially reported by landowners. FWP and Wildlife Services technicians responded and confirmed the bear had killed and fed upon the cattle. Having the approval from USFWS to lethally remove the bear, the 3-to-4-year-old male bear weighing 390 pounds was killed by firearm. Traps were not set, to avoid capturing other bears in the area that were not confirmed to have killed any livestock.
The hide and head from the bear were salvaged for Choteau High School students, who are using them to construct a replica for bear spray training lessons.
A different grizzly bear was in and around Augusta recently, and although this second bear has not been reported in any conflicts, residents are urged to continue to exercise caution.
Grizzly bears are protected under the Endangered Species Act, and final authority regarding management actions are up to the USFWS.
Bear activity is increasing on the Rocky Mountain Front and across the state. Farmers, ranchers, homeowners, and outdoor recreationists should be prepared to encounter bears anywhere in western Montana as their population and range continues to expand.
Here are some general tips provided by FWP to avoid conflicts in agricultural areas:
- Place tarps under loaders when transferring grain to prevent spills.
- Dispose of old grain through sanitation services, burning or dumping away from people, buildings and livestock.
- Dispose of carcasses and afterbirth through sanitation services, inside an electrified boneyard or by distributing away from people, buildings, and livestock. Electric fences can be placed around fresh carcasses and bone piles until they can be permanently removed.
- If possible, secure domestic animals within an electric fence when unattended by people or at night. This includes poultry, goats, sheep, or rabbits.
- Place creep feeders, molasses, and mineral blocks in open areas where humans and livestock can easily view the area before entering.
- Grizzly bears can be deterred from areas near homes using USFWS guidelines for hazing grizzly bears, found here. This helps reinforce bears’ fear of people.
- Don’t let grizzly bears linger in your yard or in close proximity to home or other structures because this can lead to habituation. Call an FWP specialist to help deter bears if you are not comfortable or able to do so.
- Notify your neighbors if you do observe a grizzly bear in the area to help make others aware.
- Domestic fruit should be picked up as soon as possible.
- Folks are urged to “Be Bear Aware” when working or recreating outside by following precautionary steps to prevent conflicts, including carrying bear spray and knowing how to use it, and traveling in groups while making noise.
If you see a bear near your residence or need to report a conflict, please call your local bear specialist at the contact number found at FWP’s website: https://fwp.mt.gov/conservation/wildlife-management/bear/contact.