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Montana bear safety educators expand their community outreach range

Grizzly bear in Montana
Michel Viard
Grizzly bear in Montana

Grizzly bears are slowly starting to wake up.

Over the next few weeks, Montana bear experts will be briefing locals on bear preparedness in regions not typically known for grizzly bear-human conflicts.

Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks bear manager Daniel McHugh says grizzlies wandering into areas like the Crazy Mountains in south central Montana is a symptom of recovery in the Northern Continental Divide and Greater Yellowstone Ecosystems.

“Their populations are at or near or past max capacity,” McHugh said. “Younger bears typically are the ones that are expanding farther eastward and trying to find their own home range and find new country for themselves.”

He said young male grizzlies avoid moving onto adult males’ territory and inciting conflict.

McHugh is leading a bear safety workshop northeast of the Crazy Mountains in Harlowton later this month. It’s not a community bear biologists usually target, he said, but last year the agency confirmed a sighting of a grizzly in the mountain range.

“For that reason, we want people to be aware that just because we saw one and we confirmed it, doesn’t mean there’s not more … that we’re unaware of,” said McHugh.

Bears in recent years have been reported even further north in central Montana, including near Helena.

The bear workshop in Harlowton is scheduled for April 23. Other bear preparedness workshops planned in central Montana this month include ones in Winifred on April 17, Columbus on April 18 and Choteau on April 21. You can find out more about upcoming bear informational events on FWP’s website.

Kayla writes about energy policy, the oil and gas industry and new electricity developments.