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Smokey Bear stolen from Tally Lake Ranger District

by KATE HESTON
Daily Inter Lake | May 2, 2024 12:00 AM

Striking the Tally Lake Ranger District office on Sunday, thieves made off with an American icon. 

At about 3:30 a.m. April 28, a pickup truck drove up onto the sidewalk outside the Wolfpack Way district office in Kalispell and its occupants stole the two-dimensional visage of Smokey Bear affixed to a fire prevention sign. 

The facsimile of the beloved bear was relatively new, officials said.

“He’s our icon and it’s coming up on his birthday this year … You know, he’s near and dear to our hearts,” said Kira Powell, spokesperson for the Flathead National Forest. 

Smokey, who was born as the symbol of a public fire prevention campaign on Aug. 9, 1944, is turning 80 this year. 

The Tally Lake Ranger District's bear has been seen on better days holding a shovel. He is described as wearing a peaked khaki campaign hat and blue jeans with his name emblazoned on his belt buckle. 

If Smokey is not returned, his replacement will cost the district — and taxpayers, officials said — an estimated $3,500. 

The Forest Service is asking the public for help regarding Smokey Bear’s whereabouts. Any information can be given to the Tally Lake Ranger District at 406-758-5204.

Reporter Kate Heston can be reached at kheston@dailyinterlake.com or 758-4459.