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Griz moved from Columbia Falls area to Marias Pass

| July 27, 2022 6:35 AM

Hungry Horse News

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will now be responsible for relocating grizzly bears to prevent or mitigate conflicts in certain areas of Montana.

Last week the agency announced it had relocated a grizzly bear to the Flathead National Forest near Marias Pass after the bear got into trouble including killing roosters and accessing unsecured coops.

The bear originally came from the Columbia Falls area, the Service said. Because Columbia Falls is just outside the recovery area, the Service had to move the bear.

The relocation of grizzly bears in Montana has previously been the responsibility of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks which typically relocates 30 bears each year to mitigate conflicts.

However, due to Montana Senate Bill 337, FWP is now prohibited from conducting relocations in some areas of the state, like Columbia Falls.

Under new Montana state law, FWP may only relocate grizzly bears in areas previously approved by the state’s wildlife commission. Outside of the state’s pre-approved areas, the Service will now take the lead in relocating grizzly bears. The Service has worked with the U.S. Forest Service to identify remote areas in northwest and southwest Montana that would be conducive for grizzly bear relocations.

The Service will be using the same protocols as FWP to determine whether a bear should be relocated. A grizzly bear is eligible for relocation if they are involved in a conflict or to prevent them from becoming involved in a conflict. Bears may also be relocated when they are incidentally caught in other situations, such as wolf traps.

Relocation is one tool available to wildlife managers. other options include: conflict prevention, such as installing electric fences, using bear-resistant trash cans, hazing, and euthanasia in certain situations. Relocation is not an eligible management tool for grizzly bears that are considered a threat to human safety.

If relocation is approved, bears will be relocated within the same ecosystem and in areas where grizzly bears already occur. As grizzly bears recover in numbers and geographic regions, it is essential to remember the entire state is within the historical range of grizzly bears. Relocating a bear from a more developed area to a remote location mutually benefits both the bear and humans by creating more space, and less risk of conflict, between bears and humans.

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