GREAT FALLS — Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks announced on Monday that the U.S. Department of the Interior has approved paintballing and cracker shells for use by landowners to haze bears.
FWP said on its Prairie Bear Monitor page:
- We are excited to announce that we have finally secured paintballing as a legal means of landowners hazing bears! For years we have been trying to get paintballing approved and a new federal order does just that. The new Department of Interior Secretarial order has allowed the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to expand its landowner grizzly bear deterrence guidelines – with paintballing and cracker shells explicitly approved for public use. Many people have been using these aversive conditioning methods for years, but previously we were operating in a legal gray zone - this order now specifically allows landowners to use these useful and effective conflict prevention tools! Hazing is imperative for keeping bears afraid of people and away from our residences and infrastructure.
FWP also announced that USFWS plans to contract and fund two U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services bear management specialists.
In 2019, FWP captured nine grizzly bears in several areas east of Highway 89 and Simms. Capture outcomes were determined through coordination with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Interagency grizzly bear guidelines due to their federally protected status. The bears that were relocated or preemptively collared caused no additional complaints. Five grizzlies were caught on Dupuyer creek in May, where they were concentrating around a boneyard. Here is the breakdown:
1. On May 1st, a subadult male was euthanized on the Sun River due to his involvement with three calf depredations and three calf attacks (additional five calves missing). USDA Wildlife Services capture.
2. A non-conflict subadult male was captured on Dupuyer creek at the site of a calf depredation. It was released on-site with landowner permission (5/18/2019).
3. A non-conflict adult female was captured on Dupuyer creek at the site of a calf depredation. It was relocated to the Blackleaf WMA (5/19/2019). USDA Wildlife Services capture.
4. A non-conflict subadult male was captured on Dupuyer creek at the site of a calf depredation. It was relocated to the Blackleaf WMA (5/19/2019).
5. A 23-year-old female was captured on Dupuyer creek due to calf depredation. She was relocated to the North Fork of the Flathead (5/20/2019). USDA Wildlife Services capture.
6. A yearling male was captured on Dupuyer creek due to his involvement with a single calf depredation. He was relocated to the North Fork of the Flathead with his mother (5/19/2019).
7. A yearling female was captured (bear in photograph) as a preemptive action because she was frequenting areas near residences north of Conrad (6/14/2019).
8. An adult male was preemptively collared on Cut Bank Creek (7/11/2019).
9. A subadult male was euthanized on the Marias river for killing 41 sheep (7/19/2019).