Black Bear Activity in Missoula Triggers Investigation
After a very close encounter between two six-year-old boys and a black bear in the Ranch Club neighborhood, Montana Fish, Wildlife in Parks has investigated to see if the bear poses a threat.
Initial investigation has shown little need for alarm.
"Likely, in this situation, it's just a bear that's moving around, pretty active, looking for food, looking for those berries and other food sources to stock up for winter," said FWP spokeswoman Vivica Crowser. "This is the time of year when those calls and reports of bears around neighborhoods does pick up. In Missoula, they can come from all around us. The way we're situated here, we have so many drainages feeding into the valley, it's a great place for wildlife. Common areas where we receive bear reports are the Rattlesnake neighborhoods, sometimes in the southern parts of town, and to the west side sometimes, but mostly in the Grant Creek and Rattlesnake areas."
Crowser says that each bear encounter is taken on a case-by-case basis, but that frequency and aggression are two major factors that wardens consider before removing a bear.
"If a bear, despite proactive measures keeps hanging around an area, then what we look at is setting a trap and relocating the bear somewhere far away from the neighborhood," Crowser said. "In this case, we haven't felt we needed to that. We haven't seen the bear again, but, if we start to get concentrated reports that the bear is still in the area then that might be our next plan of action."
Bears can be attracted to garbage, dog food, bird feeders, apples, and other items that can be left in the yards of unsuspecting Montanans. Removal of these items can help prevent an unnecessary encounter.
If a bear (or mountain lion) is spotted in a neighborhood area, the number to call to report is 1 800 (TIP-MONT), that's 1800 847-6668.