A black bear made itself at home Saturday in downtown Columbia Falls.
Residents at Columbia Falls RV Park gathered from all corners of the park to watch the bear foraging on the hillside. The bear had a red ear tag, and the bear apparently had been in trouble before for getting into unsecured garbage.
After a few minutes, the bear climbed up to the driveway of the Mountain Mocha coffee stand, even closer to U.S. Highway 2, and began eating seeds from the ground.
The bear ran away when a truck pulled up.
The RV park owners called Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, hoping to have the bear relocated. However, Erik Wenum, a wildlife management specialist for FWP, said that the bear was nowhere to be found when he responded to the call.
With bears’ winter hibernation drawing to a close, community members are once again reminded to be “bear aware.”
Citizens should safely secure garbage in a garage or in a bear-proof garbage cans and put away birdseed and bird feeders. Do not put out salt licks, grain, or deer blocks to attract wild animals — it’s illegal.
Dogs and other pets should be fed inside. Close all windows when not at home, or when cooking. Chicken coops should be secured by electric fencing. Chickens have been very problematic in recent years as they attract bruins.
Make noise while hiking to keep bears away and avoid startling them, and always carry bear spray — it’s been proven to be more effective and safer than a firearm.
For more information about bear safety, visit the FWP website at www.fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/livingWithWildlife/beBearAware/.