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Missoula 'resident' grizzly bear is developing bad habits

north hills bear
bear warning
Posted at 10:31 PM, Nov 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-25 00:36:32-05

MISSOULA — We reported last month that Missoula has its first "resident" grizzly bear.

The North Hills grizzly sow is now developing some bad habits that could prove fatal for her and her cubs.

“We’ve been beating that drum for years and years the grizzlies are coming, the grizzlies are coming,” said Jamie Jonkel, a wildlife management specialist with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. “Well, this is our first family group of grizzlies that I feel is a resident female.”

It turns out this sow has three cubs, not two. Unfortunately, she has broken into several unoccupied structures, a vehicle, and a garage looking for food.

Those types of stories don’t usually end well.

“I’m worried about her. She's already developed some habits that are not acceptable, and I came quite close to having to destroy her. Had we captured her this fall, there would have been a good chance to remove her and attempt to place her cubs in zoos but most likely we’d have to remove the cubs as well. Well, this is our first family group of grizzlies that I feel is a resident female.” - FWP Wildlife Management Specialist Jamie Jonkel

Jonkel says food sources are too easy, and homeowners need to make sure garbage and other attractants are out of reach.

Thanksgiving food waste could be tempting so it’s more important than ever to keep it locked up this weekend - or that could be a last meal for these bears.

“And she did hit a place in Upper Butler Creek right near the Grant Creek Divide near the Snowbowl Road. So I'm hoping that this is a red flag for the residents of Missoula,” Jonkel said.

The North Hills area in Missoula is a vast area that spans from the Wye to Hellgate Canyon.

Other areas people have reported seeing the bears over the past year include the Stewart Peak trail, on the ridge between Marshall Canyon and the Rattlesnake and in the Snowbowl Area.