UPDATES: October 11. 2021
Region-wide: October is here. Bears are in hyperphagia and looking to stuff their bellies with as much food as possible before they den in the winter. Remember that pumpkins are considered a delicious food for lots of wildlife and could bring bears onto your porch. If you are in an area with high bear activity this time of year, consider waiting to put your pumpkins out and bring them in at night . Bow hunting, black bear, upland game bird and waterfowl seasons have started and hunters should be bear aware, carry bear spray, and know how to use it. Grizzly bears should be anticipated anywhere in western Montana. FWP has already fielded multiple reports of hunters encountering or seeing grizzly bears.
There have been increasing reports of bears being hit and killed on highways. There have been 6 black bears killed and on male grizzly bear was euthanized after being hit by a car on Highway 83 near Salmon Lake.
Region-wide: Black bear activity has picked up. The majority of the phone calls are bears in yards feeding on domestic fruit like apples, pears, crab apples, and plums. Please pick your fruit and remove it. This activity will likely continue through at least the end of October. It is extremely important during this time period that bears do not learn to feed on garbage and bird feeders. Contain all attractants. FWP is getting a lot of calls from people asking them to set a trap and relocate bears. Due to the current level of activity, FWP is having to prioritize where traps are set and is asking for removal of attractants before a trap is set. If attractants are removed a bear will likely move on.
South Hills, Miller Creek, Big Flat, Mullan, Bitterroot valley and the Lower Clark Fork: These areas have seen a recent rapid increase in bear activity. This is largely because of the domestic fruit available. Please pick and remove fruit and contain other attractants like garbage. Chickens and other attractants can be effectively secured with a bear-resistant electric fence.
Rattlesnake/Milltown/Bonner/East Missoula: These areas are seeing above average bear activity and activity has increased rapidly over the last week. There are dozens of black bears active in these areas right now mostly feeding on domestic fruit but some have found garbage and other attractants. FWP trapped and relocated three black bears from the Rattlesnake over the weekend. Everyone should be aware that bears are very active in the neighborhoods and younger children should be accompanied by an adult to and from school as well as during trick or treating. Also be bear aware when visiting parks and moving through our public spaces. There have been several reports of a collared black bear. This black bear is from the Bitterroot valley but moved north to feed on the domestic fruit available in the area.
Upper Clearwater and Blackfoot Drainages: Grizzly bear activity has remained steady in these areas. There have been multiple phone calls from residents at rural homesites reporting bears feeding on domestic fruit including crabapples. A family group of grizzlies entered an open barn for grain. There are also steady reports of grizzly bears in agricultural fields in the Ovando and Helmville areas. Hunters have had elk and deer carcasses taken over by grizzly bears. In certain situations hunters can request a replacement tag. FWP has also taken multiple reports of hunters not abiding by food storage order regulations. Several incidents involved bears getting into grain and coolers in or around wall tents. Please review all food storage regulations for where you will be based. Temporary electric fencing can also be used to contain hunting camps.