As bears emerge from dens, public reminded to secure attractants
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FLATHEAD RESERVATION – The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Wildlife Program reminds the public that springtime on the Flathead Reservation means bears will be emerging from dens.
During the early spring months, winter-killed wildlife and succulent vegetation are the primary food sources for bears who have not eaten anything during their long winter sleep.
Bears are attracted to garbage, pet foods and bird feeders. Other attractants are chickens and small livestock which can create bear and human conflicts. Whenever someone makes food or attractants available to bears, they create situations that invite bears to become problem bears, which could ultimately endanger someone or cause the bear’s elimination.
Within the Mission Valley, domestic chickens and other small livestock like pigs, goats and sheep have been a particularly serious problem the past few years. Since 2010, thirty grizzlies have been captured or handled and 15 have been killed or removed due to conflicts.
In all of these incidents, tribal wildlife biologists determined that an effective electric fence would have prevented the bear conflict. Bear managers request that anyone with small livestock or chickens install an electric fence to protect and secure attractants. To receive information on securing bear attractants and preventing conflicts, please call the Tribal Wildlife Management Program at 406- 883-2888. The Defenders of Wildlife program offers a 50 percent reimbursement of up to $500 toward the cost of electric fence.
Another potential for human bear conflict is recreating in bear country. The Natural Resources Department highly encourages people to carry bear spray while recreating. Bear spray should be readily accessible and the user should know how to use it.
One of the best ways to ensure safety is to travel in a group of three or more people and make noise. Make loud noise especially when in dense brush or near running water where surprise encounters are likely to take place. Proper use of bear spray has proven to be the best and most effective method for fending off threatening and attacking bears and for preventing injury to the person and animal involved.
Our mission is to keep grizzlies wild, our actions matter. Their survival depends on it. To report a grizzly bear conflict or the learn more about grizzly bears in the Mission Valley on the Flathead Indian Reservation and how to keep your livestock safe, contact the Wildlife Management Program at 406-883-2888. People need to report bear conflicts or problems to CSKT Tribal Law and Order’s dispatch at 406-675-4700. When calling regarding a bear, always tell tribal dispatch you are calling about a bear conflict.