NewsMontana and Regional News


Grizzly bear sightings in Big Sandy and south of Lewistown

GRIZZLY BEAR (file photo)
Posted at 1:12 PM, May 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-05 19:51:01-04

GREAT FALLS — Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Park says that recent sightings of grizzly bears in Big Sandy and also south of Lewistown are a good reminder for outdoor recreationists, farmers, ranchers, and property owners to practice bear awareness and safety precautions this spring and summer.

The late April sighting of two grizzly bears near Big Sandy and normal bear activity along the Rocky Mountain Front show the need to be "bear aware" throughout the region, according to an FWP news release.

A recent sighting of a grizzly bear in the Big Snowy Mountains south of Lewistown was confirmed by FWP and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The confirmation is a reminder that grizzly bears are populating areas where they haven’t been for more than a century.

Bears are always on the lookout for a ready food source, ranging from unsecured garbage and spilled grain to carcasses and livestock. Landowners can haze grizzly bears off their property, but must do so without harming the bear, which typically means using loud noises and hard-sided vehicles.

Producers can reduce the risk of depredation by electric fencing small calving pastures, pens, and corrals. Distributing livestock away from brushy cover and creeks during the spring and summer when bears frequently travel along these areas can also help. Additionally, putting salt, mineral, and creep feeders out in the open away from brush and water can prevent problems. Removing or electric fencing bone piles can also prevent bears from being drawn in near homes and herds.

grizzly lewistown big sandy.jpg

In and around towns, attractants can include still other things like pet food, garbage, barbecue grills, and bird feeders. These sorts of items should be secured to prevent attracting wandering bears.

Here are some general tips to stay safe in bear country:

  • Carry and know how to use bear spray.
  • Let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • Travel in groups of three or more people whenever possible and plan to be out in the daylight hours.
  • Watch for signs of bears such as scat, diggings, torn-up logs and turned over rocks, and partly consumed animal carcasses.
  • Keep children close.
  • Make noise, especially when near streams or in thick vegetation where visibility is low. This can be the key to avoiding encounters. Most bears will avoid humans when they know humans are present.
  • Use caution in areas where vision is limited by vegetation, geography, or structures.
  • Don't approach a bear; respect their space and move off.

To report a sighting, conflict, or for assistance securing attractants, contact FWP Bear Specialist Wesley Sarmento at 406-450-1097 or Chad White at 406-788-4755.

Visit the FWP "Bear Aware" page for more information.

From June 2020: