Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks officials report that a grizzly bear killed a calf early this week on a ranch near Two Dot, Montana.

Due to that report, officials are warning hunters that with the increasing numbers of the two major grizzly bear populations, more encounters will probably occur during the upcoming general rifle season.

Communication and Education Director for FWP Greg Lemon explained the cautionary note.

“Our grizzly bear populations in the Northern Continental Divide and Greater Yellowstone ecosystems have fully recovered and exceeded the targets set for removal from the Endangered Species list, and as those populations expand, they’re moving out in all directions,” said Lemon. “That means there are areas in Montana that bears are now living where they haven’t lived for decades, or even a century or more. The grizzly bear that killed a calf near Two Dot is a good example.”

Lemon said more Montanans are going to have to learn how to live in grizzly bear country.

“Hunters should be prepared to encounter grizzly bears,” he said. “Carry bear spray and be prepared to use it, preferably hunt with a partner, let people know where you’re going, and when you’re out hunting keep an eye out for grizzly bear sign and if you see it, try to avoid those areas.”

Lemon said FWP wants to know when conflicts with grizzly bears occur anywhere in the state.

“For hunters, if they’ve shot an animal and the bear has taken over the animal, we want to know about that,” he said. “If there’s an interaction with the bear, if the bear charges and somebody has to deploy bear spray, we want to know about that, but if people just see bears, we’d just like to know where they’re moving.”

A FWP press release states, ‘Landowners should also remove or secure attractants including garbage, pet food, bird feeders, and clean up around fruit trees to prevent unwanted conflicts with bears and other wildlife such as skunks and raccoons.

Grizzly bears are still listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.  As such, killing or harming grizzly bears is illegal except by agency personnel for certain conflict or human-safety situations.  However, individuals may legally take a grizzly bear in an act of self-defense or defense of another human if there is an immediate danger of being attacked.’