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Pioneering Grizzly Bear Spotted East Of Great Falls

Grizzly bear recovery zones, distributions, and distinct population segments (distributions current as of 2017 and 2018).
Grizzly bear recovery zones, distributions, and distinct population segments (distributions current as of 2017 and 2018).

A grizzly bear was sighted nearly 80 miles northeast of Great Falls Sunday, according to state wildlife officials. The area near Big Sandy where the bear was spotted is the farthest a grizzly is known to have ventured toward the eastern plains of Montana from either the Yellowstone or Glacier area populations.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks grizzly specialist Wesley Sarmento said in 2017 there were reports of grizzlies near Stanford. He says those bears were from the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.

FWP says it shows that bears are continuing to recolonize the prairies they haven’t inhabited for decades.

The agency suspects the grizzly near Big Sandy is a young wandering male. The bear got into dog food and killed a couple of chickens. Wildlife officials are educating the area’s residents, who aren’t accustomed to bears, about how they can reduce conflict.

Correction - 06/10/20

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that grizzlies reported near Stanford in 2017 could have been from the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. We attributed that information to Sarmento, but he says those bears were actually from the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. We regret the error.

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