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Grizzly bear euthanized near Choteau after killing livestock

Choteau residents are on alert for grizzly bears (August 2022)
Posted at 10:32 AM, Sep 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-15 11:10:47-04

GREAT FALLS — Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks said in a news release on Wednesday, September 14, 2022, that after confirming that a collared grizzly bear killed livestock along the Rocky Mountain Front north of Choteau, FWP assisted the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services in euthanizing the bear after obtaining the necessary approval from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS).

The bear had first been captured and collared in 2021 in a trap set due to cattle depredation. It was unknown at the time if the trapped bear had killed the calf or was scavenging the carcass, so it was collared and released on-site.

Later in 2021, the bear was documented to have visited two other livestock conflict sites (one calf and one sheep), confirmed by trail camera and collar data, but it evaded attempts to capture it at that time.

On September 5, landowners reported another sheep had been killed, and FWP and Wildlife Services technicians responded and confirmed the sheep was killed by a bear.

Collar data from the bear showed it was present at the kill site at the time of the conflict, and after obtaining USFWS approval to lethally remove the bear, the four-year-old male bear, which weighed 386 pounds, was shot and killed on Friday, September 9. The hide and head from the bear were salvaged and will be used for educational purposes.

In related news, Choteau mayor Chris Hindoien said on Thursday, September 8: "I can confirm that there was a grizzly bear trapped just south of Choteau this morning. Chad and Daniel with Montana FWP have the situation under control."

Grizzly bears are protected under the Endangered Species Act, and final authority regarding management actions are up to the USFWS.

(SEPTEMBER 1, 2022) Residents of Choteau are no strangers to bears in the area - but sometimes those bears get a little too close for comfort.

On Wednesday, August 31, 2022, several roads off of 7th Street SW were closed for several hours due to possible bear activity. The city said in a news release that bear specialists with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, working with the Teton County Sheriff's Office, searched the area where the bear was last seen. The search included a dog and a thermal drone, but they were not able to find the bear. They planned to be out again on Wednesday evening to find the bear and get it to leave town.

Choteau residents are on alert for grizzly bears

On Saturday, August 27, a partially-consumed deer carcass was found next to the Choteau Rodeo Grounds and was reported to MT FWP. Signs of a bear were found at the site, though it is not clear how the deer died. FWP placed a camera and a scare alarm at the site to encourage the bear to move away from the area, as well as placing signs cautioning the public.

All residents and visitors are urged to be "bear aware." People are advised to consider carrying bear spray, and to avoid areas like berry patches and dense brush where a bear is more likely to be bedding or feeding.

Chris Hindoien, the mayor of Choteau, noted, “It is unusual to see bears in town, but it's not unusual to see bears. I mean, on any given night, if you take a drive east or west of town, north or south of town, you're probably going to see a bear of some sort. But this close to town, yes, it is unusual.”