THE LOCAL NEWS OF THE MADISON VALLEY, RUBY VALLEY AND SURROUNDING AREAS

Bears are still active

Hunting in bear county advice from FWP

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is investigating a grizzly bear mortality in the Eureka Basin of the south Gravelly Mountains, after a hunter reportedly shot the bear in self-defense Oct. 26. 

While the investigation is underway, MTFWP reminds recreationists to continue to practice situational awareness and be prepared for a bear encounter through the winter. Some grizzlies roam around for brief periods anytime during winter, according to MTFWP.

Because the encounter involved a grizzly bear mortality, MTFWP is working with US Fish and Wildlife Services on the investigation. 

“It lengthens the investigation,” MTFWP Region 3 Information and Education Manager Morgan Jacobsen said.

Many bears will remain active during the entirety of Montana’s big game hunting season, which is from Oct. 26 through Dec. 1. The recent below-freezing temperatures are not the persuading measure that brings all bears into their dens. 

Bears become lethargic and sleep more each day as their time for hibernation nears. Their heavy snoozing can lead to closer-than-usual surprise encounters with hunters who are trying to go undetected by wildlife. 

The hunter who shot and killed the grizzly bear Oct. 26 was hunting for elk, when he encountered the bear in the afternoon. The unidentified hunter was uninjured and reported the incident to MTFWP the same day.

Hunters can take preparational steps to avoid negative encounters with grizzly and black bears.

MTFWP advices hunters to be attentive to their surroundings, noticing fresh bear signs, concentrations of natural food sources and scavenging birds. Avoid animal carcasses, follow U.S. Forest Service’s food storage regulations and carry bear spray.

If the fruits of one’s labor lead to a harvested animal, get it home as quickly as possible. Some grizzly bears have learned to associate hunting activities with a gut pile or animal carcass and will move toward gunshots. 

If multiple trips are required to pack an animal out, move the carcass away from the gut pile and to cover it with a tarp or hang it at least 10 feet above the ground. Ideally, the carcass should be in a place where the returning hunter can observe it from at least 200 hundred yards, according to MTFWP. 

If a bear has claimed the carcass or is near the carcass, don’t try to scare it away, leave the area and contact MTFWP. If bear attacks, do not run. MTFWP advices to deploy bear spray because it has been proven to be a valuable deterrent tool in surprise close encounters. If attacked, lie face-down and protect your head and neck with your hands and arms.

For more information on avoiding negative encounters with bears, visit fwp.mt.gov or igbconline.org. 

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