The bears are back in town

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Kids are back in school, nights are getting chilly and bears are roaming town — three sure signs that the end of summer is near in Northwest Montana.

Last week, Kalispell residents on Conrad Drive had a fuzzy visitor when a 2-year-old male grizzly bear decided to fatten up on the abundant chokecherry trees common along the Flathead River in that area.

However, it turned out that berries were just an appetizer for this little guy. The main course? That was a delicious sampling of last night’s leftovers and scraps from unsecured residential garbage cans. Yummy!

Once notified of the bear’s behavior, state wildlife officials wisely captured the grizzly and moved him to a remote area up the Spotted Bear River. Officials note that a food-conditioned bear will lose its natural foraging behavior, and can become dangerous in urban settings, which can ultimately lead to a bear being euthanized.

Tis the season for bears making their way into town as apples and other fruit trees ripen in lower elevations. Officials note that both black and grizzly bears are increasingly active in the fall months seeking food before denning season.

Let’s all remember to do our part to keep our neighborhoods safe and keep these bears out of trouble. Remove or secure food attractants such as garbage, bird feeders and bird seed. Chickens and other livestock should be properly secured with electric fencing or inside a closed shed with a door. Domestic fruit should be picked up as soon as possible.

If you see a bear in town, call wildlife officials ASAP. To report grizzly bear activity in the greater Flathead Valley, call FWP bear management specialists at (406) 250-1265. To report black bear and mountain lion activity in the greater Flathead Valley, call (406) 250-0062. To report bear activity in the Cabinet-Yaak area, call (406) 291-1320.

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