State wildlife officials are working to trap a pair of grizzly bears in the Florence area.
Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) recently confirmed that grizzlies had been seen in the Lolo and Florence area.
FWP spokeswoman Vivica Crowser says the two bears have been in the northern Bitterroot Valley for the past several weeks.
Crowser told MTN News that the bears have “been spending more time around chickens and other livestock, garbage, fruit trees and other attractants.”
She added FWP is now trying to trap and relocate the grizzlies from the Carlton Creek and Sun Valley Road areas to prevent conflicts.
(AUGUST 25, 2022) State wildlife officials are reporting that several grizzly bears have been spending time in the northern Bitterroot Valley this month.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) says verified sightings of two bears most recently have been on the east side of the valley, in the river bottoms and edges of the Sapphire Mountains near Florence and Lolo.
Grizzly bears don’t inhabit the Bitterroot Valley in numbers as they do in many other parts of western Montana, but activity in the Bitterroot Valley has steadily increased over the past 10 years, according to FWP.
FWP bear specialist Jamie Jonkel said the recent sightings serve as a reminder of the bears’ natural expansion and the possibility of being present in more places.
“We have established populations of grizzly bears to the northwest and southeast of us, so seeing bears moving through the greater Missoula area and Bitterroot is becoming more common,” Jonkel said.
Two sub-adult grizzly bears were first noted in the lower Blackfoot Valley earlier this month before beginning to move south. The Blackfoot sits on the southern end of the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE), an established population of grizzly bears, and is a fairly typical spot to see grizzlies.
After moving out of the Blackfoot, the pair began venturing further south, where it is less common to see grizzlies. FWP linked together a series of sightings, photos, and video, which showed they first crossed Interstate 90 just east of Missoula, near Turah, around August 4, according to a news release.
The bears then traveled south into the Sapphire Mountains and were sighted again near Florence, in the northern Bitterroot Valley, a few days later. The animals are believed to be around two years old, which FWP notes is a natural time for some bears to begin venturing out and exploring new territory.
Although the bears were reported to cross U.S. Highway 93 and spend a little time on the west side of the Bitterroot Valley, FWP officials say they are now believed to be back on the east side of the valley.
The grizzlies were most recently seen in the Bitterroot River bottom, just south of Lolo, on August 18. The tracks of a possible third grizzly bear have also been reported in the same area.
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