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FWP moves grizzly bear found near Avon

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A 429-pound male grizzly bear was removed May 6 from the Ophir Creek area northeast of Avon by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks wildlife specialists, officials said Thursday.

Several grizzly bears have been confirmed in the area over the past month, in close proximity to cattle-calving grounds on local ranches, FWP officials said. A grizzly killed a yearling cow in early April in the vicinity, and bears have continued to remain in the area since then.

Wildlife staff moved the bear to a more remote area in the upper Blackfoot Valley to help prevent more livestock loss during the spring-calving season, FWP officials said.

Other grizzly bears remain in the area, and FWP is working with local ranches to help secure livestock and other attractants.

The FWP also reported that a grizzly bear was euthanized Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services after it was confirmed to have killed a cow in the Big Snowy Mountains south of Lewistown. The bear was first reported last week after a remote camera captured images of it feeding on a cow carcass.

Traps were set over the weekend following the discovery of a second cow carcass with bear sign nearby. Wildlife Services technicians confirmed evidence that the bear had killed both cows.

The male bear, which weighed 447 pounds and was estimated to be 4 to 6 years old, was trapped on private land Wednesday morning and euthanized, after consultation with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and USDA Wildlife Services.

Factors influencing the decision included the age and sex of the bear, as well as its location well outside of identified connectivity corridors between the Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide grizzly populations. FWP will collect DNA samples from the bear in order to determine its origin.

In the Lewistown incident, the FWP said people should be prepared to encounter bears as their population and range expands east from the Rocky Mountain Front. 

Producers can reduce the risk of depredation by electric fencing small calving pastures, pens and corrals. Distributing livestock away from brushy cover and creeks during the spring and summer when bears frequently travel along these areas can also help. Also, putting salt, mineral, and creep feeders out in the open away from brush and water can prevent problems. Removing or electric fencing bone piles can also prevent bears from being drawn near homes and herds.

In and around towns, attractants can include other things like pet food, garbage, barbecue grills and bird feeders. These sorts of items should be secured to prevent attracting wandering bears.

FWP specialists help landowners and communities avoid bear conflicts. To reach the FWP west-central Montana bear specialist, call Jamie Jonkel at 406-542-5508. In cases of depredation or wounded livestock, call your local USDA Wildlife Services agent.

Grizzly bears are still protected under the Endangered Species Act, and final authority regarding their management is up to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


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