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Grizzly bear killed after raiding occupied back-country camps west of Augusta

Bear was hazed by pepper spray, chased by dogs and shot at, and hazed by a helicopter
Posted: 1:07 PM, Sep 10, 2019
Updated: 2019-09-11 13:59:33-04
Grizzly Bear (MTN News file photo)

GREAT FALLS — Montana, Fish, Wildlife and Parks game wardens euthanized an adult male grizzly bear that had been raiding occupied back country camps along the Rocky Mountain Front west of Augusta.

FWP said in a press release on Tuesday that wardens killed the approximately 300-pound bear on Saturday, September 7, after consultation with the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

“The bear was raiding human occupied camps along the South Fork of the Sun River near Pretty Prairie in the Bob Marshall Wilderness,” said FWP Game Warden Captain Dave Holland. “It had been involved in five incidents over seven days. It had been hazed by pepper spray, chased by dogs and shot at, and hazed by a helicopter without success.”

The bear apparently had gotten a human-based food reward recently and was becoming increasingly bold, according to Mike Munoz, District Ranger with the Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest office in Choteau: “This bear was food conditioned. It got a food reward somewhere in the Sun River drainage. It approached people as close as 20 feet.”

Anyone who has a bear encounter, especially when the animal gets a food reward, should report the incident as soon as possible, Munoz said.

FWP says that hunters in back-country camps must be extremely careful. All wildlife carcasses within a half mile of any sleeping area are required to be stored in a bear-resistant manner. Carcasses, parts, gut piles or other remains are recommended to be kept at least 100 yards off a trail or day-use area. They also urge everyone in bear country to carry bear spray and know how to use it. Bear experts recommend not to go alone, leave detailed plans with someone, and pay attention to fresh bear signs. Look for bear tracks, scat and concentrations of natural foods. And use caution when in areas that have evidence of bear activity or areas with scavenging birds such magpies, ravens or crows.

For more information on grizzly bears, bear resistant containers and food storage guidelines visit the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee website .

Currently people in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex must follow food storage guidelines. All food and attractants, like garbage, game carcasses, and pet and livestock food, must be:

· Suspended at least 10 feet up and four feet out from any upright support, such as a tree or pole. And when possible, at least 100 yards from sleeping areas,

· Stored within an approved and operating electric fence,

· Stored in an approved bear-resistant container, or

· Attractants may be attended during the day rather than stored. But all attractants must be stored at night unless cooking, eating or preparing food for storage.