Bears are emerging from a long hibernation and looking for a meal – and sometimes that meal is found on ranches.
“It used to be an anomaly to see a grizzly, now it’s almost an anomaly not to see a grizzly,” Gene Curry, a rancher in Valier, said.
This causes an issue between ranchers, their lost livestock, and the bears.
“The potential for conflict is fairly high in this area if we don’t kind of mitigate it as much as we can," Curry said.
To help mediate the issue, an animal carcass removal program is up and running in Pondera and Teton counties.
“We kind of focused on those two areas because that seems to be the areas that the bears are frequenting more often,” Curry said.
Although the program is only in its second year, Curry said they’ve worked for years to get it going.
“I just wanted to get it up and going in this area because this is where I live and I can see the changes over in just the last 10 years," he said.
They’re hoping eventually they can spread the program to other counties.
“If we are successful and the bears keep expanding into other areas, then we will probably try and expand the program into other area, but of course, there’s always funding.”
Current funding comes from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Wildlife Federation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, meaning the program is free for ranchers in the counties.
"I believe that if we can remove some of the potential for conflict with wildlife, especially grizzly bears, it could be a boon for coexistence."
Curry said the animal carcasses are picked up by an on-call basis right now and taken to the landfill.
To have carcasses removed, call 406-595-6689.