Grizzly bears heading east from the Rocky Mountain Front - KRTV News in Great Falls, Montana

Grizzly bears heading east from the Rocky Mountain Front

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Mike Madel of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has been amazed at the number of grizzly bears heading east from the Rocky Mountain Front this spring.

Madel said, "This is probably the spring of all springs in terms of grizzly bear movements out onto the high plains and the river bottoms. I have never seen as many sub-adults way down the Marias river, down the Teton, Muddy Creek."

Grizzlies historically roamed eastern Montana's prairie, but in the last century diminished to smaller, more mountainous areas of Montana. 

Now as state and federal conservation efforts have greatly improved the bear's numbers, the grizzly is looking to return home to the prairie.

Madel noted, "You have an expanding grizzly bear population that are just moving out further and further east, and the further east they go, the more private land it is."

FWP works with landowners to prevent and mitigate bear-human conflict, like installing electric fencing.

Madel said, "The real solution is not removing bears, it's implementing prevention."

As these grizzlies journey further and further into their ancestral home, it will be important for people to learn how to live with the grizzly.

Madel: "You really do hope you can continue to keep up with the tide, inform and educate, not to be putting cat food/dog food out on their deck at night, think about when you can feed birds, think about your grill out on the deck, putting away livestock feed those kind of things."

FWP is working to remove the grizzly bear from the federal endangered species list, which will provide the state more flexibility in managing the population.

But Montanans will also have to do their part to coexist with the grizzly.

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