A female black bear and two cubs pawed through garbage cans, barbecue grills and home decks this week near Fishtail and along Fiddler Creek.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks game warden Paul Luepke of Columbus said the situation is unique because it involves a sow with cubs. Bears that get in trouble around people during this time of year often are single young males.

Though the three bears did not cause injury or substantive damage or enter any buildings, Luepke said, they showed that they are not afraid of people and are willing to look for food around homes and businesses.

Bears that find food are likely to return and cause problems, including confrontations with people, Luepke said. The situation often is fatal to the bear. Bears that find nothing to eat are likely to move elsewhere.

The incidents serve as a reminder that people who live in bear habitat need to take precautions against inadvertently attracting and rewarding animals. To keep from attracting bears, people should:

  • Keep all garbage indoors or in a bearproof container.
  • 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 trees and gardens.

Because the sow is caring for cubs, and teaching the young bears how to hunt for food, it is in the best interests of the animals to encourage them to move to more natural food sources, Luepke said.

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

Image courtesy Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

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