Two grizzly bear family groups have been reported on the Rocky Mountain Front recently.
Just before the recent snow storm, a Fish, Wildlife and Parks game warden spotted a grizzly female with three yearling cubs on the Blackleaf Wildlife Management Area west of Choteau.
Another grizzly female with a couple of cubs that are probably two years old was reported along the Front west of Dupuyer.
Family groups out in mid-March are uncommon, says Mike Madel, FWP bear management specialist. Adult males usually emerge first from winter dens, Madel says, and may already be out.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if someone sees an adult male out,” Madel says.
This early in the spring, bears that come out of their winter sleep will focus on finding and eating carrion, like winter-killed elk and deer, for a quick boost of energy, Madel says.
As the weather warms and people start heading to the mountains to recreate, either to a summer cabin or camping, it’s wise to remember a few basic precautions when in bear country:
- Take down winter bird feeders. Especially those close to the ground within easy reach of bears. Birdseed and suet can easily attract a hungry bear.
- When camping, store food properly. Either hang it out of reach of bears or store it in a hard-sided vehicle, like a car, truck or camper.
- Store garbage in out buildings, barbeques, too, when not in use. And don’t leave pet food out.
- When hiking in bear country, especially in grizzly country, carry bear spray, know how to use it and keep it accessible. Bear spray buried in a backpack won’t do much good in chance encounter.
Bears are a part of Montana’s wildlife landscape, and it’s a treat to see one. Just don’t turn a good experience into a bad one.