Bears a growing problem in the Mission Valley, MISSOULA, MONTANA |

This valley is just to the north of Missoula, Montana and the same valley that I caught my first grizzly bear in 30 plus years ago.

Ronan. Bear sightings are becoming more frquent in the Mission Valley.Fish and wildlife officials say that lingering snow in the higher elevation area is partly to blame, but the other part of the equation is food rewards from humans.

“Once the bears get a food reward and learn that people are a source of food, they’re always going to be around people and the end result, for these bears, is often pretty tragic, they’re going to die,” Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator Chris Servheen explained.

Servheen says last week there was a situation in Ronan, where home owners neglected to call Tribal Wildlife Management for two weeks while two teenage grizzlies rummaged through their garbage.

“It starts with one person not securing their foods and then we have this progression of behavior where the bears continue to do this, and it’s very difficult for us to retrain bears once they learn that people are a food source, they’re always going to remember that,” said Servheen.

Once the people did call, all wildlife officials could do was to set up traps in the areas. Then if the bears are trapped, officials must decide if they can be relocated without being someone else’s “problem,” or if they need to be put down.

“We’ll talk together about what they’ve done, and what their body condition is like, how old they are, and make a decision on whether we can relocate them in wild one more time, or we have to put them in a zoo, and the end result is people are killing bears by not doing the right thing,” Servheen explained.

Wildlife officials are still trying to locate the teenage grizzlies which are no longer afraid of humans. Servheen says residents should contact Tribal Wildlife Management immediately if they do see bears in their yards.

Tribal Wildlife Management is holding an electric fence seminar this Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Mountain West Cenex in Ronan where they’ll show property owners how to protect their land and animals from bears in the area.


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