Bear activity picking up in Bitterroot Valley; bear euthanized in West Fork

Jess Abell

Bear activity is picking up in the Bitterroot Valley as fall sets in and the animals search out food in preparation for hibernation.

This time of year, bears go into what is known as hyperphagia, leading to increased activity levels as they search out calories to build up necessary fat reserves for the impending winter. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Bitterroot Bear Manager Bruce Montgomery said he’s seen an uptick in the number of human-bear conflicts throughout the valley recently. Many of the incidents have been garbage-related, but some have involved chickens and other attractants such as bird feeders or pet food.

“Their sole focus right now is on finding food,” Montgomery said. “So people need to be very diligent with securing attractants and keeping trash locked up until the morning of pickup, picking fruit, getting at least a temporary electric fence around chickens. By October they should start being preparing for the den. So we have about another month and a half — two months.”

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