Grizzly bear on the move: Whitefish, Waterton, Glacier, Fortine and now, Spotted Bear

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A grizzly bear eats from a cherry tree on Dakota Avenue in Whitefish on the morning of Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016. (Photo courtesy Jan Metzmaker)

A 3-year-old male grizzly bear that had been spotted feeding in yards and pastures near Fortine has been captured and released in the Spotted Bear River drainage.

The bear was captured on May 23 in the Deep Creek drainage and released the next day, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials.

The bear was “very habituated to human activity and being around homes,” according to a press release, and landowners were concerned about how much time the bear was spending around homes. FWP made the decision to capture the bear and relocate it to a more remote location.

The bear was originally captured in August last year on Dakota Avenue in Whitefish where he was feeding on fruit trees. The bear was captured then and relocated near Frozen Lake on the Canada border. The bear was fitted with a GPS collar, which indicated that after his release he moved east to Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada, before moving south into Glacier National Park in the upper Bowman Creek area.

The bear denned near Hole-in-the-Wall and Boulder Pass, and then after emerging traveled down to the North Fork of the Flathead and crossed the Whitefish Range into the Deep Creek area near Fortine.

Most of the bear’s GPS locations show he was spending his time in wet meadows and forested areas, but he was also spending time next to houses, according to FWP. Landowners reported the bear may have been in some pastures because it was feeding on ground squirrels shot by a landowner.

“Based on his level of habituation, sightings, and concerns by the residents he was captured and translocated,” a FWP release states.

All of the radio-collared grizzly bears have been emerging from their dens and due to the large amount of snow in the mountains, several grizzly bears have moved into the lower elevations where the vegetation has greened up.

FWP has received reports of grizzly bears and have responded to calls in the Eureka, Whitefish, Columbia Falls, and Ferndale areas.

Residents are reminded to secure attractants such as garbage, pet food, livestock feed, and bird seed. Pick fruit when it is ripe and protect fruit trees, livestock, and poultry with electric fencing. In Montana, it is illegal to feed bears and ungulates.

For more information on electric fencing and living in bear country visit: http://fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/livingWithWildlife/beBearAware/default.html.

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