Last updateSat, 17 Nov 2018 8am

Town residents can help minimize bear conflicts in their neighborhoods

BOZEMAN – Help keep neighborhood bear conflicts to a minimum this fall by removing or securing backyard bear attractants such as fruit, birdseed, pet food, compost piles and garbage.

Even in areas where natural food sources are plentiful, bears can be tempted by attractants in our yards and neighborhoods, especially in the fall as they stock up and prepare to den. This can lead to safety concerns and prompt bear removals if they become hooked on these backyard foods instead of natural sources.

Keeping neighborhoods free of attractants is the key way to keep people and bears safe. Be sure to keep garbage indoors until the day of collection; consider using electric fencing around chickens, garden areas and compost piles; and move other attractants such as pet food and fruit indoors or into a secure building.

Domestic fruit is one of the primary attractants in the region in the fall. Pick fruit as it becomes ripe and remove any fruit on the ground. Store all fruit inside or in a secure garage or shed or consider electric fencing.

For more information or tips on how to keep your house or property free of bear attractants, contact the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 3 office at 994-4042.



A grizzly bear killed a calf early this week on a ranch north of Two Dot.

The depredation was investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, the agency responsible for investigating any livestock depredation.

After determining the calf was killed by a grizzly bear, Wildlife Services tried unsuccessfully to capture the bear at the site. Given a high number of black bears in the area as well, traps were pulled on Wednesday.

A grizzly bear was photographed with a trail camera in early September near the Haymaker Wildlife Management Area about 12 miles north of the depredation site. It is unknown whether this is the same bear as the one that killed the calf.

Grizzly bears are expanding their range in Montana and although they aren’t common in the mountains around Two Dot – the Little Belts, Crazies and Snowies – populations are expanding out from the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) in all directions. Dispersing bears can roam many miles. An example last year was two subadult males that were captured and euthanized after killing cattle near Stanford.

It is unknown at this time whether this grizzly bear came from the NCDE or the GYE. Biologists with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks are investigating and trying to locate either scat or hair samples from the bear for DNA analysis, which will indicate where it came from.

Hunters this time of year, whether pursuing big game or birds, should be prepared to encounter grizzly bears anywhere in the western half of Montana, even if bears aren’t known to be there. Being bear aware while hunting means carrying bear spray and being prepared to use it, hunting with more than one person and always letting someone know where you’re going. Additionally, hunters should be on the look out for bear activity, including overturned rocks and logs, tracks and scat.

Landowners should also remove or secure attractants including garbage, pet food, bird feeders, and clean up around fruit trees to prevent unwanted conflicts with bears and other wildlife such as skunks and raccoons.

Grizzly bears are listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act.  As such, killing or harming grizzly bears is illegal except by agency personnel for certain conflict or human-safety situations.  However, individuals may legally take a grizzly bear in an act of self-defense or defense of another human if there is an immediate danger of being attacked.


Hunters are reminded to be cautious of mountain lions

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks reminds hunters that mountain lions are also in pursuit of prey this time of year and are most active at dawn and dusk.

Lions feeding on a kill are potentially dangerous and should never be approached. A feeding lion in defense of food may suddenly become aggressive. Lions cover unconsumed portions of their kills with soil and litter. These food caches should also be avoided.

Any lion that appears to be habituated to or acting aggressively toward humans should be immediately reported to FWP.

Knowing what to do if you do encounter a mountain lion can reduce the potential for a conflict. Here are a few tips:

Do not approach a lion
Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.

Do not run from a lion
Running may stimulate a mountain lion's instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal. Do not turn your back. Make eye contact. If there are small children nearby, pick them up if possible so they don't panic and run. Although it may be awkward, pick them up without bending over or turning away from the mountain lion.

Do not crouch down or bend over
A person squatting or bending over looks a lot like a 4-legged prey animal. When encountering a mountain lion, avoid squatting, crouching or bending over, even when picking up children.

Appear larger
Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you are wearing one. Again, pick up small children. Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice. The idea is to convince the mountain lion that you are not prey and that you may be a danger to it.

If a lion attacks:

If you are unarmed, you can use bear pepper spray to deter the lion. Many potential victims have also fought back successfully with rocks, sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools and their bare hands. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal.

If you have a firearm, and know how to use it safely and effectively, Montana law allows you to kill a mountain lion to defend yourself, another person or a domestic dog. If you do kill a lion in self-defense, you must report it to FWP within 72 hours.

For more information, visit FWP’s Recreating in Mountain Lion Country web page.



Variable weather across southwest Montana brought snow to higher elevations. Colder temperatures contributed to higher elk movement and improved tracking. With mild temperatures state-wide until this past weekend, hunters waited for improved conditions to pursue game.

Hunters saw higher success at the Cameron and Gardiner check stations, with Cameron reporting a record number of elk harvested in the 15-year record. Check stations across the region reported higher hunter numbers than previous weekends in response to the colder weather. Other stations are still reporting slow to average hunter success but higher numbers of hunters overall.





Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is accepting applications for Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program grants. The purpose of WHIP is to accomplish large-scale restoration of private and publicly owned, high priority wildlife habitats through noxious weed management.

The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet Wednesday, Oct. 17, at FWP Headquarters in Helena. The Commission meeting starts at 8:30 a.m. and will be streamed live via video to all FWP regional offices. The meeting will also be audio streamed online at fwp.mt.gov.

The agenda includes final decisions on:

  • 2019 fishing regulations
  • Clark Fork River closure for Department of Environmental Quality cleanup of Grant-Kohrs Ranch area
  • Missouri River and Toston Fishing Access Site closure rule
  • North Sunday Creek conservation easement
  • White Deer Meadow conservation easement
  • Canyon Creek Wildlife Management Area addition fee title acquisition
  • Dome Mountain Ranch WMA inholding assignment of conservation easement and fee title acquisition
  • Beattie Gulch state bison hunt closure
  • brucellosis annual work plan.

The Commission will hear the following proposals:

  • Amendments to current No Wake Zones and adoption of new No Wake Zones on Canyon Ferry Reservoir
  • Draft Upper Missouri River Reservoir Fisheries Management Plan
  • Fishing Access Site Biennial Rule

FWP ensures its meetings are fully accessible to those with special needs. To request arrangements, call FWP at 406-444-3186.

For the full agenda and background on the scheduled topics, go to the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov; under “Quick Links” click “Commission.” FWP's website offers live streamed audio of each F&W commission meeting. The public can also view a live television feed of the meeting at FWP regional offices. FWP Headquarters is located at 1420 E. 6th Avenue, Helena.



The hunting of mountain lions in north central Montana hunting districts 411 and 412, which includes portions of Golden Valley, Fergus, and Judith Basin counties, shall close at one-half hour after sunset on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. 

The closure notice for the hunt came shortly after Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials received word that the pre-established harvest sub-quota for the districts combined had been met.

These districts will re-open for the hunting of mountain lions for the Winter Season beginning December 1, 2018.

For more information, visit FWP's website at fwp.mt.gov , click on "Hunting" then choose "Drawing & Quota Status", or call the toll-free number at 1-800-385-7826.