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Grizzly bear killed west of Shelby

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Posted at 6:37 AM, Jun 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-23 11:46:03-04

GREAT FALLS — Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks says that it captured and euthanized a young male grizzly bear west of Shelby on Friday.

According to FWP's Prairie Bear Monitor Facebook page, the bear had become food-conditioned and habituated to people.

The agency said the bear had been involved in numerous conflicts between Ethridge and Ledger recently, and attempts to prevent incidents had been unsuccessful. In consultation with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the decision was made not to relocate the bear because "its undesirable behavior appeared engrained and posed a human safety risk."

FWP says that the bear was conditioned to non-natural foods and habituated to the presence of people, meaning it had lost its fear of humans. The bear had obtained food rewards, such as spilled grain, livestock carrion, and a BBQ grill near homes, which led the bear to seek out residences for more food. Furthermore, the bear had grown accustomed to people and had looked into two home windows and approached a person on a porch.

FWP made attempts to condition the bear to people and homes by hazing it, and installed scare devices and electric fence around attractants to prevent conflicts. Landowners had also cleaned up grain spills and attempted to scare the bear off. FWP met with producers in the area to make them aware of the situation, provided bear spray, and discussed securing attractants.

FWP has recently worked to increase grizzly bear awareness in north central Montana, including public presentations in both Havre and Loma last year. In addition, all hunter and bowhunter education students in the region are taught about bear safety, and pamphlets on how to hunt safely in grizzly country are available at FWP offices.

A good resource on up-to-date activities and locations of prairie bears is the “Prairie Bear Monitor” Facebook page. If you encounter a bear in north central Montana, you're asked to call FWP at 406-450-1097, or 1-800-TIP-MONT.