Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists are seeing an unusual amount of grizzly bear activity along the Beartooth Front west of Red Lodge this spring. So they are urging black bear hunters to take precautions.

Shawn Stewart, FWP’s wildlife biologist in Red Lodge, believes more bears are using the mountain face between Red Lodge Creek and West Rosebud Creek than at any time in recent memory. As a result, spring black bear hunters are likely to run into grizzlies.

Hunters in that area need to make doubly sure that any bear they see is legal before they shoot it. Hunters also should take special precautions when retrieving harvested game, which can attract scavenging grizzlies, Stewart said.

Before they can buy a black bear license, all hunters must pass an online bear identification test. In south central Montana, the spring black bear season runs from April 15 through May 31. Grizzly bears are federally protected and hunters may not shoot them.

FWP also is urging people who live in areas frequented by bears to make their properties unattractive to bears. To keep from attracting bears, people should:

  • Keep all garbage indoors or in a bearproof container.n   Thoroughly clean barbecue grills and move them indoors when they are not in use.
  • Take down songbird feeders.
  • Store horse and pet food in a secure shed. Never leave pet food out overnight.
  • Pick up and dispose of rotting fruit or vegetables left from last year’s trees and gardens.

Bears that find food are likely to return and cause problems, a situation that often is fatal to the bear, Stewart said. Bears that find nothing to eat are likely to move elsewhere.

For information on living in bear country, or to take the black bear identification test, visit FWP online at http://fwp.mt.gov.

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