GREAT FALLS, Mont. - Wildlife officials are reminding the public to exercise bear awareness due to recent reports of grizzly bear sightings in central Montana.
The reminder follows recent reports of two grizzly bears near Big Sandy and regular bear cases along the Rocky Mountain Front, according to a release from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
In addition, FWP and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service verified a grizzly bear sighting in in the Big Snowy Mountains south of Lewistown--an indication grizzly bear populations are appearing in places where they haven't in more than 100 years, FWP said.
While out and about, bears seek food that is easily accessible from non-bear-resistant garbage, spilled grain, carcasses to livestock.
FWP suggests property owners haze bears by making loud sounds and hard-sided vehicles as long as they are not hurting the bear.
To deter bears from livestock, FWP suggests:
- electric fencing small calving pastures, pens and corrals.
- Keeping livestock away from bushy cover and creeks during spring and summer
- Placing salt, mineral and creep feeders out in the open and separate from brush and water
To deter bears from towns, FWP suggests residents keep the following out of reach:
- Pest food
- Barbecue grills
- Bird feeders
The following are FWP's safety suggestions while recreating outdoors:
- Bring and know how to use bear spray
- Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to come back
- If possible, stay in groups of at least three people during the day
- Lookout for signs of bears including scat, diggings, ripped-up logs, flipped over rocks, and partially eaten animal carcasses
- Don't let children wander away
- Make loud sounds, particularly near streams or heavy vegetation with low visibility
- Be careful in place with poor visibility due to vegetation, geography or structures
- Don't come up to a bear--continue away and respect their personal bubble
To report a bear sighting or conflict or request assistance in bear-proofing attractants in central Montana, call FWP Bear Specialist Wesley Sarmento 450-1097 or Chad White 788-4755. FWP asks those who run into bear issues with livestock, contact your local local USDA Wildlife Services agent.